Great Markets in Paris
3 choice spots for food shopping in the City of Light.
I love Saturday mornings. Two shots of espresso and I bolt out the door unshaved and head for the Marche Biologique des Batignolles (between rue Boursault and rue Puteaux, 17th arrondissement). I’ve shopped at this weekly organic market on the boulevard des Batignolles for ten years now, and I have my habitudes. First, I pay a visit to Patrick, at the market’s northern edge. “Mes laitues sont tendres, elles sont tendres comme moi!” Patrick shouts from behind three long tables piled with artful displays of superb organic produce. [“My lettuces are tender, as tender as me!”] Then he catches my eye and, knowing I’ve heard his routine many times, says, “You know what, the lettuce really is incredibly tender today.” So I take a ruffled, garnet-colored roussette, plus two baby romaines and two big handfuls of Italian arugula. I can’t stop there; I grab three bunches of purple-tipped asparagus from Provence and a little wooden box of strawberries from Gariguette, in the Dordogne. Patrick makes a gift of a few fresh herbs—cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, and mint. “Why not make a light pesto to go with the asparagus?” he suggests. I will, and it will be delicious. Next, it’s on to the biopac stand, for a split-pea or lentil galette with a glass of amber-colored apple juice. After that, I hit L’Elevage du Corbier, which sells the best goat cheeses in Paris, and then Boucher Ardennais, which makes sublime boudin blanc and boudin noir.
Though I’m loyal to the market on boulevard des Batignolles, that doesn’t mean I love the other markets of Paris any less. In fact, I’m always looking for an excuse to scoot over to the Marche des Enfants Rouges (39 rue de Bretagne, 3rd arrondissement), in the Marais district. Small, charming, and nearly 400 years old, this market takes its name from the red jackets once worn by the children at a neighboring orphanage. Picnic tables make the transition from shopping to lunch instantaneous, which is good, since many of the food stalls sell prepared dishes like quiches and North African-style couscous, along with first-rate fruit, vegetables, wine, and charcuterie. I also have a soft spot for the busy, bargain-oriented Marche d’Aligre (Place d’Aligre, 11th arrondissement), which includes both a covered market, called the Marche Beauvau, and 40 outdoor stalls along the rue d’Aligre, near the Bastille. The Marche d’Aligre retains the gritty character of the neighborhood before it started going bobo (bourgeois-bohemian). I always stop at Chez Philippe, which stocks some thousand cheeses; I’ll often pick up a few medallions of fresh goat cheese, which I’ll marinate in olive oil and bake. Several stalls here also carry hard-to-find charcuterie from Brittany, Corsica, and the Auvergne. Others sell produce from Africa and Asia; I’ll almost always buy some yams or lemongrass, some Thai basil or fresh bamboo shoots, before rushing home to make lunch. —Alexander Lobrano, author of Hungry for Paris_ (Random House, 2008)_