While Monoprix is just fine for pasta, toiletries and canned goods, it’s at the outdoor markets of a neighborhood where one can find the freshest produce, meats and cheeses in France. Visiting the markets is also a pleasurable way to get to know the inhabitants of the quartier (not to mention their eating habits). By smelling the peaches, tasting the grapes and picking up the bell peppers, you learn with all your senses. The first rule of going to the markets is don’t be shy. Start by gathering a couple tomatoes and the merchant will hand you a plastic bag or a basket. Put each type of produce in a different container and hand them all to him when you are ready to pay. He will then weigh each one. If possible, visit the markets with a local and watch what they do. If not, just observe the other customers and follow suit. French Markets are friendly places where people ask questions and exchange information. Don’t be afraid to participate! You may even feel like a local yourself after a trip to one of these colorful carrefours.
Rue Ordener, near rue Damrémont. Metro Jules Joffrin. Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 1pm
If you are looking for a hunk of runny brie or a couple of merguez sausages, this is your stop. There are many butcher and fromagerie stands at this market, so take your pick. Also at this relatively tranquil market is an assortment of women’s and men’s clothing (pants for as little as five euros), undergarments, socks, kitchenware, towels, jewelry, hair accessories and of course fresh fruits and vegetables. There are also pots of honey and local wines on offer. You can even find such specifics as slippers or a bottle opener. Go right ahead and bargain over the fine array of new pots and pans or the antique plates and silverware.
Porte Montmartre, boulevard Ney near rue du Poteau. Metro Porte de Clignancourt Thursday and Sunday mornings
This lively market includes mountains of fresh fruits and vegetables, several fish stands and clothing stands with pajamas, shoes and children’s clothing. Ve
ndors yell out their products along with the prices, “le melon 1 euro!” and there is much hustling and bustling of customers of all different cultures. Prices here are low: 6 figs, 4 apples and half a kilo of green beans costs less than 2 Euros. The fish monger will empty the fish for you, but it’s up to you to de-scale it.
Boulevard Ornano, near metro Simplon. Tuesday and Sunday mornings until 1pm
Even more energetic than the Porte Montmartre market, boulevard Ornano is a North African market that sells fruits and vegetables (common as well as exotic) in large quantities at rock bottom prices. Here one can also find halaal meats, fish, roasted corn and other interesting delicacies. Customers will haggle over a bag of grapes or a kilo of tomatoes to ensure they get the best price.
© 2011 Pasa’s Paris