From cosmopolitan to organic, including the one most cherished by bargain hunters, Musement unveils five must-visit markets in Paris and its outskirts.
From food markets to flea markets, Musement has selected five of the best in the Ile-de-France region. Renowned antique and second-hand dealers, 100% organic market gardeners, exotic delicatessens and grocers showcasing the French terroir—here’s a look at all this and more together at five emblematic markets in and around Paris.
1. The Saint-Denis Market
Saint-Denis, just 15 minutes by metro from the heart of Paris, is home to one of the largest and most colorful, cosmopolitan public markets in the Ile-de-France region. You can get there every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday morning at the Basilique Saint-Denis stop on line 13, just across from this Gothic cathedral which houses the tombs of 43 kings and 32 queens of France. As for the market, this is the ideal place to economize on your food shopping, find products you can’t find in the supermarket and fill up on exotic foodstuffs shipped in straight from their homelands. In addition to the aisles of food stalls at the Saint-Denis market, you can also stroll around looking for personal and household items—that favorite rare pearl that will make you fall in love or negotiate the piece you were missing for the best possible price.
Tip: If you’re able to arrive at around 6:00 in the morning, you can attend the drawing for the volant—traders who are neither members nor street traders, but instead registered with the city hall and chosen by drawing to put a vacant spot to use.
2. The Saint-Ouen Flea Market
Emblematic of the city of Paris, the Saint-Ouen Flea Market is also France’s largest. Antique dealers, second-hand booksellers and street vendors share a 17-acre space every weekend, from Friday to Monday, welcoming over 200,000 visitors. In all, there are 14 distinct markets, each with its own atmosphere and specialty. The Paul Bert Serpette market, for example, is the most coveted among discerning collectors and hunters who drop in from all over the world to satisfy their love of rare, dated, signed, vintage furniture and other objects. If you’re seeking a more traditional experience along the lines of a garage sale, visit the Jules Vallès market between Saturday and Monday. That said, Saint-Ouen is also an incubator for street art, so don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled and search beyond the stalls.
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3. Le Marché des Enfants Rouges
This time we head to the 3rd arrondissement, home to the capital’s oldest and most emblematic covered markets. Created in 1615, the Marché des Enfants Rouges is open every day except Monday and welcomes tourists and occasional visitors as well as Parisians who come to stock up on supplies from the twenty or so shopkeepers and caterers on site. Taking its name from a former nearby orphanage where children were dressed in red, a symbol of Christian charity, this warm, inviting spot is also ideal for a quick bite to eat in the Marais. Between the stands of Moroccan, Japanese or typical French cuisine, you’ll find something for every taste.
4. Le Marché Biologique des Batignolles (The Organic Market of the Batignolles)
The Batignolles market, held every Saturday, specializes in 100% organic products—mostly local, seasonal fruits and vegetables—but also flowers and all kinds of goods that celebrate the French and Mediterranean terroir. Take the time to chat with the producers, discover antique flours you’ve never heard of, taste natural wines or stock up on environmentally friendly soaps that are gentle on your skin.
5. Rungis International Market
If you’re looking to hit the big league, you’ll find it at Rungis Market. It’s the largest food market in Europe and the place where many chefs buy their supplies well before daybreak. If you were already impressed by the seven-hectare Saint-Ouen flea market, you should know that Rungis Market covers a whopping 234 hectares, generates a turnover of €9 billion, and supplies almost one in four French people. If you want to discover this market in full swing, you’ll have to get up early or maybe not go to bed at all, as the stalls and aisles of the various pavilions start coming to life as early as 2 a.m. The model of this well-oiled wholesale market works so successfully that it’s even been exported internationally, but for the original version, go to Val-de-Marne! It’s one of the very few markets with an e-commerce site.