What I love is how a person's experiences in a city like Paris can vary so much from one to another.
There are so many aspects that you may just never pick up on, even if you feel you know the city well. As the first part of a series of guest posts on this blog, I handed the keyboard over to the wonderful Emily, from Paris Paysanne, and asked her to share some of her top tips.
The focus of Emily's blog is whatever is local. She covers a multitude of topics, from food, wine, markets, recipe ideas, and reading her blog often generates those "oh I didn't know that" moments.
I'm incredibly spoilt having an amazing indoor market open 6 days a week just metres from my front door that I rarely venture out to discover new places. Emily, however, makes it her business to find the best markets with most local farmers. Here are her top five. (Thank you Emily!)
"Whenever I visit a new city, I always look up where the Farmers Markets are. Usually in centrally located, pedestrian friendly areas, these markets are great spots to wander and discover a city. Paris, with its over 60 open air markets spread out across 20 arrondissements, offers a wide selection for the avid market goer. While the French capital has a wealth of marchés, most are missing a crucial element that makes a great Farmers Market: farmers. However, there are a few markets in Paris that have local farmers selling their homegrown fruits and veggies. Here are a few of my favorites:
Marché Biologique des Batignolles
I'm lucky to say that this is my neighborhood market. One of the three all-organic markets (Marché Raspail and Marché Brancusi are the others), this market is a mix of local producers and organic food resellers. My favorite local vendors are Au Val du Coutant, who come from Chailly en Brie, only 41 miles from Paris. Their stand is stocked with seasonal vegetables that are picked fresh the day of the market. Also at the market is Hermione Boehrer, who has a farm only 39 miles from Paris. Mme. Boehrer specializes in sprouts of all sorts, with a lovely selection of fresh herbs and flowers as well as wheatgrass, which you can order by the shot glass.
This market was a recent pleasant surprise for me. Located in the 12th arrondissement, the market brings together about a half dozen local farmers- which is impressive by Paris market standards. Most growers have farms within 40 miles of Paris, which means you get a great selection of super local, ultra fresh produce. Jean-Luc Dormoy and Elyane and Gerard Gobeaut are two different vendors who bring homegrown goods to the market. A small stand from Melun sells a modest selection of seasonal produce- most recently they were selling a gorgeous variety of baby greens and mushrooms.
Part of what I love about Marché Bastille is that its a great spot for people watching. Its central location and animated environment bring both tourists and locals together in one place. I like to stroll the aisles of this market and take in its sights; foreigners familiarizing themselves with French fruits and vegetables, vendors shouting prices at passers-by, and couples stopping to watch pigeons play in the fountains that line the Boulevard Richard Lenoir.
On the corner of the boulevard and rue Sedaine, you'll find a local producer from the Eure region in Normandy who sells seasonal vegetables from their farm along with game fowl such as quail and duck. Earl Martinet is another local grower who brings produce from his farm 19 miles outside of Paris. Les Vergers de Picardie sell apples and pears grown on their orchard North of Paris, along with juices made from these freshly pressed fruits.
Marché Sur L'Eau
This newcomer to Paris' market scene is in its second year and is a welcome addition to Paris' family of markets. While the association encourages shoppers to subscribe to their weekly paniers of pre-assembled produce, you can also stop by the market at La Rotonde at Place Stalingrad on Tuesdays and Saturday mornings to pick up a few things à la carte. The innovative aspect of this market is that produce is brought into Paris by boat along the Canal de l'Ourcq. This method cuts back on the carbon footprint left by traditional ground freight methods of transporting food and makes for a greener market for all.
La Ruche Qui Dit Oui
Another concept market, La Ruche Qui Dit Oui is technically not a single market but rather a collective of community-run markets. Each ruche, or hive, invites independent farmers to come to a designated location to distribute locally-grown goods. The particularity of this market is that you place your order in advance on the organization's website. Once the attendance of the farmer is confirmed (if the vendor sees that they won't be selling much at they market they may decide not to come), your payment is processed and then all you have to do is collect your purchases at the rendez-vous point a few days later, where you will meet the person who grew your food as well as peruse other available produce.
Of course, what's most fun about the markets is making your own discoveries and with so many markets to choose from, it's easy to start exploring right away! Enjoy your market adventures and check out Paris Paysanne for my regular market updates and observations!"