One of the most lively images I have from my childhood is a trip to the market with my grandfather. It was summer and we took the ferry in the morning to arrive early and go straight to the market which is quite near the port. When we arrived I remember grandfather knocking on the watermellon cheking if its ripe as it should be and taking swiss chard from the locals he knew.
Nowadays I was for a long time quite intimidated by going to the market thinking I won't be able to find a good produce or that someone would trick me so I mainly avoided it.
It happens to be that in Paris, markets are very popular and visiting local market has become a thing on a "to do" list when in Paris. In a city as Paris where one would expect people not to have time for preparing fresh meals and see them only buy frozen, already prepared food (which of course
we do) markets are remarkably popular. I see it also as a form of morning relaxation, while strolling between stands filled with seasonal fruit and leafy vegetables, homemade gâteaux
or prepared sur
local dishes and refreshing beverages.
People queue, some more patiently than the others.
Markets are the soul of the city. Or bellys of the city. It was the market of Les Halles, "the belly of Paris" located in the very heart of the city that provided vegetables, meat and fish for around 800 years for the inhabitants. Open market later covered with Baltards pavillions was demolished in 1970. A large commercial center was built and beneath it there is now one of the worlds largest underground stations.
(Big, but dispite it, claustrophobic shopping mall and the notorious station Châtelet-Les Halles are now in the process of renovation.)
Today each arrondissement has at least one market opened on Saturday or Sunday, many of them work even during the week. As it always is in the city like Paris, some markets are more popular and fashionable while others are cheaper or less interesting. Sometimes even somewhat "dangerous".
What I like when going to the market is buying a local produce. It will always be more expensive but I am being careful from whom I buy or from where does the produce come from.
I admit being a slave to habits so I mostly go to some of my favourite markets eventhough there are yet so many to discover. As for you, don't forget to dedicate one morning to a trip to the nearest market. It will probably tell you a lot more about the city and it's people than you might imagine.
My favourite markets (for now):
Marché biologique Raspail (NB:one of the most expensive markets in Paris; Sunday, Boulevard Raspail, M Rennes or St. Placide)
Marché des Enfants Rouges (every day except Monday; 29, Rue de Bretagne, M Filles du Calvarie)