Don’t you just love French marchés? I got my first “taste” of them when I was studying in Dijon several years ago.
The street I lived on – right in the center of town – became a marché three days a week. I know because those were the days there was definitely no sleeping in. There is something so energetically stimulating about being at (even if it’s just looking over it from a balcony) a French marché. At the one in Dijon, they sold everything from produce to old books to regional products, and even purses. It was so fun to listen to the vendors call out prices and interact with regulars and newbies alike.
When I moved to Paris, one of my first apartments was right across the street from the Marché des Enfants Rouges. Leaving aside the bizarre name, this ever-present marché is one of my favorites in Paris, though I’m not sure I could pinpoint why. Perhaps it was the young boy whom I would always see working at his family’s produce “shop” who was already just as passionate a lover of the trade as his parents. We always had lovely interactions.
These days, I usually find myself at the marché that sits atop the Canal St. Martin, along Boulevard Richard Lenoir. It’s so great to wander there, especially just before they’re set to close. I love the activity and the enthusiasm with which they call out the bare bones prices. Anything to get rid of those last barquettes de fraises or poignées de pousses d’épinard.
Not long ago, I was at this particular marché, whose name I do not know, when I had the most charming interaction with a complete stranger: she picked up a head of purple lettuce, looked at it, turned to me, and together we agreed it was a beautiful little piece of abundance she was holding. But then, that kind of visual stimulus is what you have at these produce stands… a continuous rainbow of flavors and colors.
Whether you’re visiting or live full-time in Paris, the marché – any of them – is the most fun (and least stressful) place to get your food. Not to mention it keeps you away from all that “food” wrapped in paper and plastic.