At the moment, I'm waking up really early for no apparent reason. It's really annoying because after an incredibly busy week (and it's far from over yet) I really need as much sleep as I can get. If you don't believe me, I tried telling my class that the population of France was 6 million in my presentation yesterday... (it's not, it's approx 60 million) but one of the positive spins that I'm putting on the situation is to take advantage of all the extra time I have now I'm awake so much.
A couple of days ago, I decided to take a Vélib ride before the rest of Paris wakes up and the sharp increase in traffic around rush hour makes it much less pleasant to cycle. I had no destination in mind, I just wanted to get on my bike and see where I ended up.
As it happened, I ended up at one of Paris' largest consumer food markets, the Aligré Market, in the 12th arrondissement, near Ledru-Rollin métro and not far from la Bastille. I arrived at 8am just in time to see the most laggardly stalls still setting up.
It really is a foodie heaven. At this market, there isn't anything they don't sell. The stalls stretch on for as far as you can see and the streets seem endless. It may seem a little bit daunting at first, but if you "faire un petit tour" and orientate yourself with the different sections, the market suddenly becomes much less intimidating.
As with most food markets, the prices are cheap, the vendors noisy and the produce plentiful. I actually find this market marginally more expensive than my local Marché de Belleville
but still, it's good value nonetheless - far cheaper than you'd find in the London equivalent for example.
If you're a tourist in Paris and you're saving your pennies for a super restaurant, think about heading to a market like this one to buy a very fresh, cheap lunch and you won't be disappointed.
As a rule of thumb about this market, there's the outdoor food market along rue d'Aligré, which is what I've been talking about in this blog post up until now but you should also know that there is a covered market too (the "Beauvau Saint Antoine") which is slightly more expensive than the outdoor market but has a very wide selection of produce including special olive oils, cheeses and other deli stuff. Particularly noteworthy also are the Caribbean products and dishes which I find quite hard to come across here in the centre of Paris but which I've seen a couple of times in this section of the market. As well as food, you'll also see stalls selling clothes, bric-a-brac and homeware, all located in the Place d'Aligré itself. Don't hesitate to haggle.
Open every day from about 7 - 8am until 1pm every afternoon, apart from Monday when it's shut. One little word of warning, as with everywhere in Paris, but particularly in places like this where there's lots of hustle and bustle, watch your pockets and keep a careful eye on your possessions.
If you're there in the morning, I would highly recommend that you should follow your nose just like I did and end up at the boulangerie which sells the best croissant in Paris
that I've found in Paris so far.
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If by the time you've finished at the market it's no longer time for breakfast but you're looking for somewhere else to go to rest your feet and lay down your new purchases, try Le Baron Rouge
just deux pas from the Place d'Aligré for a glass of wine and perhaps a plate of charcuterie, cheeses or oysters. A great find, this wine bar is often so full of locals that patrons tend to spill out onto the pavement.