Paris is famous for shopping. From the luxury boutiques of Avenue Montaigne to the flea markets of Clignancourt and the flower markets on the banks of the river, there is always someone willing to take your money. For me there’s one shopping experience that stands out above them all – the traditional Sunday market.
My favourite is on Boulevard de Grenelle.
Boulevard de Grenelle is a residential street in the calm 15th arrondissement. Running through the middle of it is the raised track of metro line 6, the taking of which is an experience all of its own with magnificent views of the Eiffel Tower, the river Seine and the Allée des Cygnes. Underneath the rails is a fairly miserable place sometimes, especially if it’s a grey day. But on two days a week (Wednesday and Sunday) it is one of the liveliest, most bustling places in the area. Market day.
Visually, the market is fantastic. Vibrant reds and whites on the butchers’ stands. Blues and whites for fishmongers, greens for the grocers. For the meat-eaters among you there are the most ridiculous stuffed tomatoes I’ve ever seen (basically just baseball-sized meatballs with a tomato cap). Many of the stalls sell hot food such as traditional French cassoulet, seafood paella and golden rotisserie chickens. When I went last week it was the day after I overindulged on the biggest cheeseboard I’ve ever been served and so I headed straight for the fruit stands. It was well worth the trip.
Aside from the amazing food, there are also stalls selling gloves, scarves, clothes and one that my friend Nancy calls the ‘Two Euro Man’ – a costume jewellery merchant who sells everything at, you guessed it, two euros. Two Euro Man doesn’t speak much English but if he detects your accent, you may be lucky enough to have him shout a brief rendition of ‘I Shot The Sherriff’ at you.
The problem with this market is that it’s just too good. I can spend hours here, looking at the lovely food, trying my best to haggle in French and learning new words for fruits I’ve never seen before.
I love how this market completely transforms the space underneath the metro track and how the local residents descend on it in droves to grab a bargain and buy their weekly groceries. If you’re staying in the 15th (or even if you’re not), I’d definitely recommend going to have a look around. In my opinion, markets are a brilliant way to immerse yourself in local culture and avoid the shopping meccas and chain stores.
To visit the market, head to La Motte Picquet or Dupleix metro stations on a Wednesday or Sunday morning. You can’t miss it.
For information on Paris’ famous flea markets, check out this great post by The Good Life France.