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Jun 19, 2014 10:35 AM

Markets of Paris - the book

I did a search and see this book hasn't been mentioned since 2010 (and then only three times), so since I've delurked, I thought I would mention the updated version published last spring: "Markets of Paris, Second Edition", by Dixon Long and Marjorie Williams.

I bought it last year and found it to be a charming read, and the pocket size makes it easy to bring on a trip. (I didn't read the first edition.) It covers every open air and covered food market in Paris, from the smallest to the largest, along with the specialty markets, such as the weekend book market as Parc Brassens.

Though several of the markets have been referenced here by posters who regularly attend and give their input (I saw a mention in the book of Parigi's "chicken guy" at Saint Quentin), it was fun to read about the less well-known markets we read about in the book.

On our last trip, we did some shopping at the huge Cours de Vincennes market in the 12th; the Gros la Fontaine market (where Monsieur Thiebault also sells his vegetables - I believe he's more well known for selling them at President Wilson) in the 16th; the Bercy evening market in the 12th, just to see what an evening market was like (small, with more "to go" food being sold, as you would imagine, but some delicious produce and cheese, too); and Reunion, a relatively large market in the 20th.

One of the authors (Williams) noted one change to the book on her blog: a new open air market opened late last year in the 14th near Porte d'Orleans - Marche Jourdan.

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  1. Many thanks for giving us a heads-up about this book. I personally think that Paris markets are every bit as interesting as the usual tourist sites. And I say this as a non-cook and a non-shopper. But ever since I was little kid I've been acting as bag boy (and now driver too) for my grandmothers and aunties as they made their daily rounds of the neighbourhood marchés. It was a long and very enjoyable immersion in our food culture made even better by absorbing the sense of each quartier.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Parnassien

      You're very welcome. I can only imagine how much fun you've had going to the markets with your family over the years, and seeing both the food and people as they've changed in various neighborhoods.

      I believe you're one of the posters who has suggested Popincourt market as a calmer alternative to the popular Bastille market nearby. I haven't made it there yet, but hope to one day. The book mentioned a vendor at Popincourt selling a sparkling rhubarb cider from his orchards in season, a product which I haven't come across anywhere else yet, unfortunately.

      Speaking of Bastille, I noticed that a popular tour company for Americans is no longer offering Bastille or Raspail tours at the moment, but is about to begin offering Aligre/Beauvau tours and is advertising Aligre as "If you only make it to one market in Paris, this is our top pick." (Beauvau is my favorite covered market.)

      Interesting how the winds change...or maybe Bastille simply got too crowded with tourists like me.

      1. re: GetLucky

        I can quite understand why an American tour company would pull the Marché Bastille from its tour destinations. The Sunday version can be overwhelming, the vendors are too busy to be "nice" to gawking tourists, petty crime is rife, and little protection from rain. Aligre has some of the same disadvantages but it's open 6-days a week so there are quiet times more suitable for tourist groups. And the mix of boisterous outdoor market and excellent indoor market is more interesting as well as more enjoyable in bad weather. Plus a very vibrant neighbourhood with a huge choice of excellent restos and cafés for a before and after.

        Although my gran lives on the Rive Gauche, she quite regularly relishes a trip to the Marché Popincourt for its neighbourhood feel, friendliness of the vendors, and quality of the products. And indeed there does seem be a high proportion of producers with all sorts of straight-from-the-farm goodies. But there are other marchés with the same feel and quality... just depends on the day of the week.

        1. re: Parnassien

          You're right about Aligre being open six days a week and so maybe better able to handle crowds. Good point, hadn't thought about that - as well as your point about the nice neighboring shops and places to sit and eat.

          I think it was just the advertising switch implying "this is the best" to "no, THIS is the best" that got me (or that any one market is the only one to go to.)

          1. re: GetLucky

            It's just marketing... exaggerations are the norm. In real life, "the best" is meaningless. But wait, I do know "the best" market... unfortunately, it's a tie with 17 "the best". Can we say "the bests" ?

          2. re: Parnassien

            The Sunday Marché Bastille has also gotten just very over-crowded with N. American tourists over the last few years. Before 10h it's okay, but after that they start to become overwhelming and get in the way of the functioning of the market (something where the Japanese are much better). A cousin with a strong American accent has mostly stopped going there, as the vendors often ignore her, assuming she's not actually shopping.

            Aligre would be much more appropriate for tourism, if only, as you said, because it is open 6 days.

            1. re: tmso

              Agree 100%. Aligre has great quality and is much less touristy. A market has a problem when a tourist tells you to move out ov the way - while you are trying to pay a vendeuse - because he is photographing the stand.

              1. re: Parigi

                It's much less touristy - right now. But Aligre has been on the move as far as more frequent travel book mentions that I've seen, plus various forum/travel site mentions - much like Bastille (or as some still call it, Richard Lenoir) has been for a few years. Same kind of trajectory, in my opinion.

                But as Parnassien pointed out, being open six days a week is probably a better buffer than a twice a week market has.

                1. re: GetLucky

                  "being open six days a week is probably a better buffer than a twice a week market has."
                  For me, it is about quality, not convenience.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    I was speaking in terms of a tour company. For a tour operation, it might be better to have the six day a week buffer to provide the best tours and also not irritate the vendors - especially if the preferred market has gotten too crowded (perhaps with the inadvertent help of various tour companies).

                  2. re: GetLucky

                    Hopefully Marche d'Aligre being a little further from the center of Paris will be less likely to be overrun with tourists. The Marais is a magnet for tourists, making Marche Bastille a prime target. We use to have an apartment in the 3rd and shop at Popincourt twice a week, not a tourist in sight.

                    1. re: PBSF

                      The tourist content at the marché "découvert" seems to still be fairly low.

                      The marché Daumesnil is tourist free (given its location) and actually quite nice. One side of the street is more "1 euro ! 1 euro !" shouting, the other side actually has quite a lot of local producers. There's also a marché des producteurs de pays once a year in the same area.

                2. re: tmso

                  Most vendors aren't even open by 8:00, as it's become so tourist oriented, but I see way more euro and Japanese tourists than N. Americans. Doesn't bother me one way or the other cause I sees 'em all buying stuff for their Air BnB apartments in the area.

          3. We had an older and the most recent issue and left them in our apartment for the next visitor as we found to be more accurate and easier to carry.

            However, whatever means you use, food doesn't get much better than what you buy in the Paris markets.

            4 Replies
            1. re: hychka

              I guess it depends on what one is looking for. has a website page listing all of the markets/dates/times.

              But it gives no hint of the varying atmosphere or neighborhood of each market and/or the goods sold at each. That's detail I like reading about/seeing described for each market and helps me to decide which ones to visit, since even the tiniest ones have a short entry noting an outstanding vendor or two. Or descriptions like those noting that a market is known for having a choice of West African foods and products, or North African foods and products - or the goods are higher-priced than other markets but top quality (and/or that you're paying a premium for the market's neighborhood).

              One other thing: In the official listings, almost all morning open air markets are listed as opening at 7 am and closing at 2:30 or 3. I have had to warn a number of early-rising fellow Americans that arriving at one of these markets at 7 (which would be their preference) isn't usually going to work, and everyone will be long gone by 3 pm.

              So I liked that the authors of this book listed what they called the practical hours, which usually run from 8 or 8:30 am to 1 or 2 pm, depending on the market and if it is a weekend.

              1. re: GetLucky

                I have repeatedly warned fellow hounds about the officially posted closing hour of 3pm. A complete fallacy that keeps getting reprinted.

                1. re: Parigi

                  Also interesting that street markets get started later than posted and brocante earlier.

                  It is particularly frustrating if you are shopping for prepared food, such as roti chicken or choucroute or paella or tarteflette which are often not ready until 9 or 10 at the earliest.

                  1. re: mangeur

                    You wouldn't want a poulet rôti or tartiflette at 7am + 3-5 hours cook time, though...