France

Like a Local: Top 10 Paris Street Markets

by Madeline Monaco  |  Published June 23, 2017

Browsing food and antique markets is one of the most common weekend past-times for Parisians. It’s no surprise. After all, Parisians are expert “flâneurs” (people who spend their days roaming the streets). From locally sourced produce to antique military coat buttons, you really can find it all.

Pages of history along the Seine (Photo: Benh Lieu Song via Wikimedia Commons)

While each Parisian street market – including the smaller neighborhood produce markets – has it’s own specific schedule posted online, most will be open on Saturdays, making exploring one the perfect weekend activity. Top tip: take a tour of the entire market before committing to any one thing in order to avoid buyer’s remorse, and trust long lines to lead you to the worthwhile bites and bits. Without further adieu, here are 10 must-visit markets.

Seine River Booksellers – Open: Hours vary

Paris has its recognizable traits, but one that stands out most to locals may be the bouquinnistes, or booksellers who set up shop along the banks of the Seine River. A centuries-old tradition, 900 classic dark green boxes align the quais of both the right and left bank for more than three kilometers of antique books and posters. That adds up to roughly 300,000 old books, journals, stamps, and other paper goods. Taking a stroll along this UNESCO World Heritage site is the perfect way to enjoy the journey between Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.

Seine, 75001

Marché d’Aligre – Open: Tuesday-Sunday

A pre-purchase walk-through of the Marché d’Aligre (Photo: Ted Drake via Flickr)

For an all-in-one experience, head to the Marché d’Aligre, the definition of a Parisian neighborhood market. Crowded with fresh apricots, stacks of used books and morsels of cheese and dates ready for tasting, the market has an energy unlike any other. If you’re not a Francophile, you’ll want to memorize this one phrase more than any other: “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” or “what is this?” From tropical fruits to is-this-even-edible shelled treasures, it’ll surely come in handy. The covered sections are a blessing on rainy Paris days, while the uncovered areas are great for finding antiques and linens.

Place d’Aligre, 75012

Marché Saint Martin – Open: Tuesday-Saturday 9am-8pm; Sunday 9am-2pm

Just around the bend from the Canal Saint Martin is a covered market that seems so innovative, you may not guess it dates back to the 19th century. You’ve got the classics like fruit and veg, meat, and cheese, but also specialty stores, like the German grocery with beers, confections, and other goodies. And if it’s not picnic-worthy weather, stop into Le Réfectoire, a hip restaurant that shares the space and takes advantage of the nearby fresh ingredients.

31 Rue du Chateau d’Eau, 75010

Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux – Open: Monday-Saturday 9:30am-7pm; Sunday 8am-7pm

The fairytale-like Marché aux Fleurs inundates the Quai de Seine with flora (Photo: Pascal Poggi via Flickr)

After a trip to the timeless Notre Dame, the Marché aux Fleurs (or aux Oiseaux, depending on the day) is a pleasant escape. The crowds of people oohing and aahing over the stained glass rose window at the cathedral will be replaced by overflowing bouquets of roses, hydrangeas and more. The flower market doesn’t allow pictures, but the rows and rows of colors and smells are memorable. If you land there on a Sunday, the market will have converted into the weekly bird market. Better than the zoo, this magical experience is perfect for little ones who may have found Notre Dame less than impressive without their favorite hunchback lurking about.

Quai de la Corse, 75004

Marché des Enfants Rouges – Open: Tuesday-Thursday 10am-8pm; Friday-Saturday 8am-8:30pm; Sunday 8:30am-5pm

A former orphanage, now home to an eclectic range of food stalls (Photo: ParisSharing via Flickr)

Paris has a history of locals adopting buildings for their own personal causes. Similar to the way Victor Hugo wrote the Hunchback of Notre Dame to save it from destruction, local Parisians fought to keep the 400-year-old Marché des Enfants Rouges afloat in 2000. Previously an orphanage (whose roots live on through its name for the red children’s clothes that were donated to charity), the modern market won a renovation – thanks to a movement to save its kiosks 20 years ago. Today, you can visit the happening food stalls every day but Monday, for an eclectic range of cuisines – from Italian to Lebanese to African. Grab a bite to go, or find one of the coveted tables to enjoy some food sur place. It’s fitting that an address with such historical significance in Paris was helped to thrive once again by the young, hip Parisian crowd.

39 Rue de Bretagne, 75003

Marché Rue Mouffetard – Open: Tuesday-Saturday 8am-7:30pm; Sunday 8am-12pm

What do Ernest Hemingway and Julia Child have in common? Their fondness of Rue Mouffetard. A quaint street in the 5th arrondissement, Mouffetard is packed with locals getting their food shopping done. Pop over all week long for the boutique vendors, but aim to come by on Saturday or Sunday morning to get the full food stall experience. From fishmongers shucking oysters to butchers roasting whole chickens (and letting their juices infuse the potatoes below), Rue Mouffetard is the ideal supplier for your Jardin des Plantes picnic.

Rue Mouffetard, 75005

Marché Biologique Raspail – Open: Sunday 9am-3pm

Stalls at the Raspail market are coveted by organic suppliers (Photo: yisris via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s a common misconception that French food is “better” by nature than food from elsewhere (as much as the French would hate for you to know this). If you’re looking for clean eats, head to the Marché Biologique, the Sunday organic market on Boulevard Raspail. These suppliers are going the extra mile to get the AB, agriculture biologique, certification for their products. From produce to prepared products, this market boasts all you need for a week of clean eating. The stand serving up freshly-griddled potato pancakes with cheese attracts ample crowds, so be sure to queue up early for your fried-to-perfection bite before getting fruit and veg for your post-indulgence cleanse.

Rue Cherce-Midi – Rue de Rennes, 75006

Marché aux Puces de Vanves – Open: Saturday-Sunday 7am-2pm

A trip to Paris often means being guided through the streets by smells. So if you have a moment on a Saturday or Sunday, there’s a food-free market in the most residential neighborhood of Paris – the 15th. You’ll be surrounded by locals looking to get a deal on 18th, 19th, 20th century furniture and knickknacks. You can easily spend hours looking at the detailed frames, brooches, and silverware lining folding tables and street corners. If you’ve got room to spare in your suitcase for that dream lampshade of yours, the flea market at Vanves is well worth a gander.

Avenue Marc Sangnier, 75014

Rue Montorgueil – Open: Hours vary

Rue Montorgueil is home to a number of specialty merchants (Photo: Espen Sundve via Wikimedia Commons)

If the hustle and bustle of Saturday morning at the market doesn’t thrill you, you’re not alone. Some local Parisians prefer the comfort of dipping in and out of shops more than pushing through the cattle-like herds. In this case, your best bet is to visit a market street like Rue Montorgueil. Here, you’ll be able to weave in and out of specialty shops, using your nose as your guide. Follow the tangy smells of cheese to La Fermette to stock up on comté, charcuterie, and likely get a lesson or two about French dairy from owner Philippe. Next, stop by Stohrer, the oldest patisserie in Paris, which cranks out specialty pastries like puits d’amours, wells of love that are little bites of crème pâtissière atop a light pastry crust and brûléed to perfection on their tops. The shop’s three variations of baba au rhum and award-winning chocolate éclairs are also not to be missed.

Rue Montorgueil, 75002

Marché Bastille – Open: Thursday 7am-2:30pm; Sunday 7am-3pm

Just as the French people gathered in the Place de la Bastille to revolt against the monarchy, Parisians come in swarms to the same spot every Thursday and Sunday, this time for one of the biggest Parisian street markets. Yes, they had very different end goals, but yes, both had a hunger, of sorts. It’s easy to spend hours on end roaming the stalls, so this is one market where it’s best to trust the locals and seek out the longest lines; stalls with hoards in front of them are often the best. Take the wait time as an opportunity to eavesdrop and get to know what the best offerings are. If you want to go where the locals go, this is your spot.

8 Boulevard Richard Lenoir, 75011