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Aug 12, 2013 08:25 AM

Non-restaurant Food Recommendations, Paris

I'm heading back to Paris in September and am very excited. This trip will be different from previous trips in that we will be renting an apartment with a "well appointed" kitchen (though of course who knows what that means).

We are not planning restaurants, stressing over reservations, etc this time (though everyone has been so helpful for previous trips). This trip is going to be 5 days of relaxing in Paris - mindless wandering, reading a book in a park, pretending I'm an artist and sketching, and since we will have a kitchen . . . cooking and buying things from all those fabulous shops that I've only been able to window shop before.

So I'm looking for food things to do that fit that mold. I have a list of all the markets from previous trips (I will be there from a Sunday to a Friday) but I'm willing to go off the beaten path for a fun/unique purveyor too - or just a fun adventure - or a particularly historic purveyor - etc.

Or food "tips" from anyone "in the know". I remember reading a thread on here that indicated that the fish mongers will, for example, cook/prep a fruit de mer assortment (I would never have thought that, never have asked, and I'm sure my kitchen won't have an oyster knife).

We are "hopefully" staying on Isle St Louis (I say hopefully only because everyone in Paris is on Holiday right now so confirmation is painfully slow) if that impacts any suggestions.

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  1. Congratulations. Everyone who is serious about food should get lodging with kitchen, otherwise he is missing a major chunk of food enjoyment in France.
    But but but !
    I would reconsider re Ile St Louis. It is one central area that has no market or food shop cluster. Otherwise arrondissements 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 18 (the south, "Amélie"-Abbesses part) would all be good.

    I might have been the one who started championing getting oysters from the fishmonger. But if you stay at Ile St Louis, I don't see a single fishmonger on the island, and I don't see you haulting a platter from another 'hood back home.

    When you decide where to stay, or at least have a short list of 'hoods that interest you, please come back and ask more specific questions, including specific locations for potential rentals. Then we will be able to help you much more: including our fave bakers, butchers (even certain cuts or types of farm chickens, certain patés), pastry shops, regular markets, weekly maraîcher markets.

    For the moment, my only tip would be: If you want to make best use of the markets and your kitchen, you may not want to choose Ile St Louis.

    Bon séjour.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      Hmmmm - I'll have to see what I can do about apartments, that ship may have sailed at this point. We had plenty of trouble finding a place for the dates we will be there (as I guess fashion week will be going on), but I'm willing to keep looking. I (wrongly) assumed that the Ile would be right in the middle of things but I completely understand your point. We have good friends in the 1st and 5th as well - so we seemed central. Hmmmm, quite a pickle . . .

      Other than seafood - wouldn't traveling with a bag of produce and protein be doable or are the markets/shops more distant from the Ile? I'll see what I can do, but I may have to make do . . .

      1. re: thimes

        We've stayed in apartments on the Ile St Louis twice, and had a great time. Really good base for mindless meandering and in the course of that , ŵe found the area around the St Paul Metro, which has a number of food stores, and we also happened on an organic market in the same sort of area. It's about 15 minutes walk or slower if you are being more of a flaneur. The island itself has a nice Cremerie for cheese, and good boulangeries (we liked the one on the cross street rather than the main Rue St Louis best.). We could also just about lean out of our window and see what the queue at the ice cream shop was like before venturing forth for pudding.
        We wouldn't stay any where else!

        1. re: Londonlinda

          Yes, it wouldn't be my choice, pretty and quaint though it is, but it is a short walk to anywhere in the Marais. Really, you can easily get to Marché Bastille ou Marché d'Aligre from there.

        2. re: thimes

          We stayed in a great apartment in the 5me near the Jardin des Plantes in November and had no problem getting to any and all the markets we wanted to... We loved the Marche d'Aligre - especially the covered market behind it where we found a wonderful butcher who supplied us with fabulous calves liver and one of the best veal chops of our lives. :)

          We found our apt through have you looked there?

        3. re: Parigi

          Agree with Parigi as usual, the Ile St L is a tough march to market(s). But the northern part of the 18th's (Duhesme/Poteau and Ordener) market streets are while not as photogenic as Abesses/Amelie, quite good with a Landemaine bakery, fine wine shops, rotisseries and #9 cheese-store (Marie Quatrehommes) too.

        4. I do agree that the tourist-ridden Ile Saint-Louis is not exactly the best sample of real-life Paris for self-catering foodie types. But not all that dire. Limited choices on the Ile, yes ... but just a 10-minute walk south to the Marché Maubert (Tue+Thu+Sat mornings) and the cluster of permanent shops like the fab fromagerie Laurent Dubois, a very decent boucherie, and a not very good poissonnerie.... and 10-mins north to the Saint-Paul quartier for the shops along the rue Saint-Antoine (and lots of fun trying to find the shortest way through the back-streets and passageways of this very historic quartier).

          The Ile St-L is not all that convenient for the métro (stations north and south but the nearest ones require changes to get to anywhere interesting)... but the #67 bus from from the rue des Deux Ponts delivers you to the rue des Martyrs shopping street in one direction and the Marché Auguste Blanqui (Tue + Fri + Sun) between place d'Italie and the Corvisart métro in the other... and lots of seeing and feeling the non-tourist Paris in between. The #86 from the Pont de Sully, takes you to the Marché Maubert and Saint-Germain des Prés (for high-end chocolate shops, delis, etc) in one direction and the place Bastille for the Marché Bastille (Thu + Sun) on the bd Richard-Lenoir and to the Crozatier stop on the rue Faubourg St-Antoine for the Marché Aligre (daily except Mon) in the other. The #87/ direction Champs de Mars, also from the Pont Sully, ends up near the Eiffel Tower but on the way goes through St Germain des Prés, Sèvres-Babylone (for la Grande Epicierie/ Bon Marché and the Marché Raspail (Tue + Fri + Sun).

          There's a taxi rank just across the Pont Tournelle on the quai Tournelle in front of the Tour d'Argent restaurant. Use it often. Taxis are one of the few bargains that Paris offers. For just 6.40€ (and tipping is not expected), you can extend your shopping range without any hassle to, for instance, the delightful Marché Popincourt (Tue + Fri) on the boulevard Richard Lenoir @ rue Oberkampf in the 11th, rue Bretagne shopping street/ Marché des Enfants Rouges (daily except Mon) in the 3rd, or Marché Monge (Wed + Fri + Sun)in the 5th. On the way back, you can hail a cab on the street or get directions to the nearest taxi rank from any shopkeeper "excusez-moi, monsieur (or madame)...où se trouve la station de taxis la plus proche ?". And of course, when using a taxi always have a pad for writing down the exact address (including the designation "rue", "avenue", "place", etc) in case the cabbie doesn't understand your pronunciation.

          If you are fit enough and not the nervous nelly type, the almost free "Vélib" system is a godsend for shoppers. There's no bike station on the Ile itself but there is one just on the other side of the Pont Marie on the rue de l'Hotel de Ville. You can get a week's subscription for a pittance.

          BTW, Monday is the traditional closing day when food shopping will be limited to supermarkets and convenience stores The closest large supermarket to the Ile St-L is probably the Monoprix (Mon to Sat) on the rue Saint-Antoine about 100 metres down from Saint-Paul church. Not much open on Sunday afternoons also... even most supermarkets are closed.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Parnassien

            Good to have you back from Italy P. we've missed the GPS/laser view of the scene.

            1. re: John Talbott

              Thanks, JT le Vénérable. The airport waiting-waiting-waiting and the sardine-can cheap flight gives me lots of time to re-focus on Paris and fiddle with my radar/ GPS. Just a few days in Paris and then back to Puccini-land.

              1. re: Parnassien

                To keep on topic, have some of Scarpia's lamb for me and I'll have a lobster for you.

          2. This recommendation derives from , so I'm crediting blog author Heather Stimmler-Hall, though I agree with it from experience.

            If your rental (self-catering) flat is missing something essential to you for cooking, a good solution is the street markets that sell all manner of cheap goods. I've certainly picked up cheap espresso pots or woks at those, and left them where I was staying (unless I found something really nice to take home).

   This also has daily and weekly schedules. I think it is French only (je viens de Montréal, donc je ne l'ai pas vérifié) but if you don't speak French, it is easy to use google translate for such a simple text.

            The taxi suggestion is useful especially if you are "schlepping" heavy supplies you might need. True foodies will scout out stuff throughout the city, from the poshest redoubts to the most lively but a bit scruffy cosmopolitan quarters, but think of the weight and distance.

            Actually, public transport is very good value in Paris, as well as vélib and taxis. You don't need to be particularly fit to cycle in flat central Paris, but you have to be used to cycling in urban areas. Montmartre and Ménilmontant/Belleville have serious hills.

            1. Thank you all for the recommendations so far. Unfortunately I'm a little at the mercy of what is available in terms of apartments. I'm still looking for other options in the event this place falls through but pickings are slim in terms of budget and cute factor (unless of course I want 4 bedrooms or something that is just ridiculous).

              That said, we are adventurous, physically fit, "young" (okay middle aged but i'm sticking with young), and at least one of us speaks french very well (I'm only passable) - so buses, taxis, bikes, etc are all options - thanks for all that information - and we are willing to spend a day (or I am) hunting and gathering for a great meal.

              Along Parigi's post - any cheeses/pates/chicken breeds/etc that anyone feels we should seek out should the opportunity present itself. I know there is so much that is only available in France and I'd hate to miss out when I finally have the chance to have a kitchen. Of course I won't be able to eat it all in 5 days but I'm excited about the possibilities.

              4 Replies
              1. re: thimes

                I wouldn't worry too much about not finding an alternative to St. Louis. You will have the 'quaintness' factor and it is literally the center of Paris, convenient for strolling the center arrondissements. As many of the previous have stated, though it does not have a thriving market or loaded with food shops, the are much in the surrounding areas. Less then 10 minutes walk crossing the Seine in either north or south, there are: rue Saint Antoine and Richard Lenoir, a little further is Marche Aligre, rue de Bretagne and even Montorgeuil; cross the Seine south are Marche Maubert and little further Monge and Mouffetard. One can walk to the organic Raspail market on Sundays. The numerous Franprix supermarkets on both sides of the Seine from the island are open everyday (morning only for Sundays). The central street on IIe St Louis has a cheese shop, bakery and butcher. There is food everywhere in Paris.
                Below is a recent thread that has a lot of interesting and useful information:

                1. re: PBSF

                  Marché Richard Lenoir is now officially le Marché de la Bastille; that is one I referred to. It is a great market:

                  L'île St-Louis is tiny, and part of the 4th arrondissement (southern part of Le Marais). It is easily walkable to shopping for staples and treasures.

                2. re: thimes

                  If you need a little voyage of trial-and-error discovery through the fromage universe, try the cheese buffet lunch or special 15-cheese platter at the Salon du Fromage Hisada on the rue Rue Richelieu. Most other cheesemongers might give you taste of one or two but aren't really willing to give you an education... nor is it fair to take up their time.

                  1. re: Parnassien

                    Hisada is a great shop. They also sell buerre Bordier.

                3. If you do wind up on Isle St Louis one of the best under the radar cheese shops is nearby. Trotte's small, hard to find shop, is in St Antione near the St Paul metro. Fabulous Comte and St Marcellan.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jock

                    "Trotte's" is indeed a hard-to-find small treasure. I always think it's west of the church but it's east at 97 in the lee of the fruit/veg store..