Paris is home to over 80 weekly food markets, which pop up in nearly every neighborhood in the city. Where I live, in the 15th, I could walk to a different outdoor market every day (except for Mondays, when all markets – and many restaurants – are closed) – that is, if I wanted to.
Wait, what? Yes, I have the opportunity to do all of my shopping at a quaint outdoor Parisian market, and I choose not to. And I promise, it’s for a very good reason.
The truth is, not all of Paris’ markets are created equal. The ideal market, at least in my mind, is a marché de producteurs, where actual producers – cheese affineurs, butchers, fishermen, and farmers – gather to sell their wares. Basically, what we’d call a farmer’s market in the U.S.
In Paris, however, a true farmer’s market is rare. Many market vendors buy their wares at the same suppliers as supermarkets do, and you end up roaming the market stalls to find the same Moroccan strawberries and mass-produced carrots that you can get anywhere.
Luckily, the marché biologique at Raspail is nothing like that.
The marché biologique is an organic market that takes place on Sunday mornings from 9am to 3pm. Vendors set up their wares on the island in the middle of boulevard Raspail, beginning at the exit of the Rennes métro stop.
This is one of my favorite places to come witness the changing of the seasons. These days, you can still see fresh green spring garlic, purple artichokes, and gariguette strawberries.
You’ll also see produce you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in Paris, like rainbow chard, kale, mustard greens, and collards, none of which have been particularly popular with the French until very recently (and in large part thanks to the Kale Project).
Aside from produce, you’ll find your classic French market staples, including roasted chickens, ready to take home and enjoy for lunch…
…olive wood kitchen utensils…
… and tons of yummy snacks.
Now French culture dictates that you’re not supposed to eat and walk, but I think you can make an exception for these tasty cheese and potato pancakes that are prepared and served hot, right in the middle of the market.
(I mean seriously – if they didn’t want you to eat it right now, they shouldn’t make it look so delicious.)
If that’s not quite your style, you can also choose from dozens of different quiches and savory tarts. On my last visit, I went with a sublime carrot and goat cheese tart with a creamy texture and tons of bright carrot flavor.
Whatever you choose, you can be assured that you’re getting organic ingredients and, for the most part, that you’re buying from the producer him or herself – and that’s worth getting up at 9am on a Sunday, at least in my book.
Marché biologique de Raspail – rue du Cherche-Midi/rue de Rennes, 75006