Paris is a beautiful city, visited by millions every year for its famous sights such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc D’Triomphe, along with the chic café culture. A popular location for romantic getaways, you can fly to Paris from the UK in around an hour, making it an ideal destination to visit for a weekend especially if you love bargaining with street sellers at markets.
Every neighbourhood of Paris offers a range of ‘marchés’ (markets) that fill the streets for a varying number of days a week. There is no doubt that you will come across them whilst exploring the city. However, there are several that stand out from the crowd. Keep them in mind as places to visit for a memorable and exciting market experience.
Food is one thing the French are famed for, so it is a given that the city is brimming with food markets. Probably the most famous and biggest of these is the Sunday ‘Marché Bastille’. Lining Richard Lenoir Boulevard in the 11th arrondissement (district), it is filled with hundreds of stalls proffering gourmet produce. Almost anything can be found for a reasonable price, making it popular with locals and tourists alike.
Also located in the Bastille area is Place d’Aligre, open Tuesday to Sunday. Actually two adjacent markets, ‘Marché d’Aligre’ has some of the cheapest food stalls in the city, whilst the covered ‘Marché Beauvau’ sells high quality, yet reasonably priced produce that draws people from all over the city.
Discreet and hidden away in the fashionable Marais area is the ‘Marché les Enfants Rouge’. The oldest covered market in Paris, founded in 1628, it is set apart by its range of ‘eat in’ stalls, offering culinary delights from Asia and Africa in addition to traditional French fare. Open every day except Monday, it is pleasingly affordable.
For a more exotic feel, delve into ‘Marché Dejean’ (18th arrondissement). Open Tuesday to Sunday mornings, the bustling African-influenced bazaar is heaving with exotic foods and spices, African eateries and textile stalls. The nearby ‘Marché Barbes’, open on Wednesday and Saturday, is similarly stocked, whilst ‘Marché Belleville’ (found in the 19th arrondissement on Tuesday and Friday) boasts a more Middle Eastern souk-type atmosphere.
There are many other noted food markets. ‘Saxe-Breteuil’ (7th), close to the Eiffel Tower, sells quality French produce from Thursday to Saturday. The tiny ‘Marché Monge’ (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday), in the Latin Quarter, is popular for its quaint atmosphere and beautiful stalls, which offer some of the freshest food in Paris. Also look out for ‘Marché Montorgueil’ in the 1st arrondissement and ‘Marché Buci’, open daily in the 6th.
If you’re looking for a keepsake of Paris beyond the usual tourist trinkets, there are many flea and antique markets to investigate. One of the more renowned, at Porte de Cligancourt, is the ‘Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen’, often referred to as ‘Les Puces’ (“The Fleas”) for short. Covering seven hectares, it is the largest antiques markets in the world, with hundreds of thousands visiting each weekend to explore the organised sprawl of covered and open market space. Open Saturday to Monday until 6pm, items for sale range from cheap bric-a-brac to collectable antiques.
‘Marché de Montreuil’, in the 20th arrondissement, is smaller and less organised than ‘Les Puces’ but great for a bargain. It is off the tourist track and has some real vintage gems to be found if you’re willing to be patient and to haggle for the best price. It is open on weekends and Mondays.
‘Marché aux Puces de Vanves’ (14th arrondissement) is another favourite. Each weekend, between 7am and 1pm, over 350 stalls display their wares. Rather than selling larger items, this market is excellent for vintage clothes and jewellery.
Specialist markets can also be found dotted around the city, catering to a variety of interests.
Paris’ first purely organic market comes in the shape of ‘Marché Biologique Raspail’ in the 6th arrondissement. Open Sunday and Tuesday mornings, it caters to an upmarket, health-conscious clientele and prices reflect this. As well as a shopping experience, it is also a trendy hangout spot!
‘Marché Rond-Point des Champs Elysées’ is a stamp market open on Thursdays, weekends and holidays; serious collectors gather here to buy and trade stamps and postcards. You can also discover the weekend book market (‘Marché aux Livres’) at Parc George Brassens in the 15th arrondissement. It sells old and new books and even first editions and those dating back 200 years! ‘Marché Saint-Pierre’, meanwhile, is the place to go for textiles and fabrics. Open every day but Sunday, it offers a wide variety of fabrics, from tablecloths to rare materials.
The ‘Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux’, located on the Île de la Cité in the Seine, has been dedicated to flowers and birds for more than 200 years. Flowers are sold every day of the week, whilst birds are on display on Sundays.
For original artwork, visit the ‘Marché de la Création de Paris Bastille’. This 11th district venue, occupied every Saturday, is the biggest weekly art market in Paris. Over 200 self-representing artists and designers display their work to visitors. A slightly smaller arts market sets up every Sunday in the 14th arrondissement Montparnasse.
Whatever you’re looking for, Paris will have a market for it, from food to bric-a-brac and collectables. There are so many that you are sure to stumble across at least one by pure chance. There are hundreds of hotels in Paris, so wherever you stay you’ll never be too far away from a bargain or two. Be prepared then to head home with much more than you ever intended to!