In Paris there are street markets and market streets. Understanding that there is a difference can be confusing. Street markets are what the French call marchés, which are often translated into roving markets or farmers’ markets. These are temporary markets that set up two or three days a week. There are 94 of them providing the quintessential background for tripists’ photos and for shopping in Paris. Market streets are streets dedicated to food vendors and household goods. There are several of them in Paris, each with its own personality and specialty. Here are the top five market streets for shopping in Paris.
1. Monet depicted the rue Montorgueil (métro: Etienne Marcel) from les Halles to the rue Réaumur in a painting in 1878. Carrara marble paving stones cover the pedestrian street that is lined with food purveyors, trendy bars, historic cafés and colorful gift shops. The exceptional pastry shop Stohrer, at No. 51, moved into the neighborhood in 1730. In later years its pastry chef invented the baba au rhum, and there isn’t a better one in the entire city. The restaurant Au Rocher de Cancale opened its doors nearly a century later, and the 200-year-old paint peeling off the ornate façade makes it a monument to the beaux arts era. The cheesemonger la Fermette sells small platters of assorted cheeses, so even solo travelers can enjoy a sample of its excellent offerings.
2. A tiny market street with just a few vendors, the rue de Lourmel (métro: Dupleix), from the boulevard de Grenelle to the rue du Théâtre, is the ideal place to stop before a picnic at the very nearby Eiffel Tower. The cheese shop of Laurent Dubois, a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, makes it worth the trip for the unique recipes on offer: chèvre marinated in oil and fresh nuts, Sauternes blended into a blue cheese, Gouda with pistachio. Directly across the street is a deli, a produce vendor and a remarkable rotisserie. The Alsatian bakery Benoît Maeder, at No. 18, almost always has baguettes still warm from the oven.
3. For something authentic, and off the tripist radar, the rue Daguerre (métro: Denfert-Rochereau) is a picturesque pedestrian street with traditional French food purveyors. As well as the expected butcher, baker and cheese maker, there is a honey shop; the O Sole Mio Italian deli, which locals have been known to cross town to shop at; and several wine cellars with interesting selections of affordable bottles. One of Paris’ best bakeries, le Moulin de la Vierge, is on the corner, perfectly placed for a last-minute grab once your shopping is done.
4. It is quite possible that the rue d’Aligre (métro: Ledru-Rollin) is the best market street in Paris, because it cheats. The marché Beauvau, one of the city’s rare covered markets, is at the end of the street, and all around there is a street market, as well as the only flea market that is held midweek. There is an exotic grocery and Middle Eastern bakery on the street next to traditional butchers and gourmet chocolate. In the evening the tone rises, as vendors become frantic to sell their produce, and as patrons at the very popular Baron Rouge wine bar spill into the street, balancing plates of oysters on the hood of the nearest car. More than a market, this is the theater of Parisian life at its most rewarding.
5. Influenced by globalization and the foodie culture, the rue des Martyrs (métro: Notre-Dame-de-Lorette) is arguably the chicest market street in Paris, with trendy clothing boutiques and original gift shops sharing the sidewalk with food stores that include a jam specialty shop, an olive oil vendor and several extraordinary shops selling pastries that leave one thinking of Marie Antoinette and pleading, “Oh, yes, please, let us eat cake!” The shops include Popelini, Yves Thuriès, Sébastien Gaudard and the baker Arnaud Delmontel. Of course, one can’t live on cake alone, so for more mundane purchases there are historical stores, like the century-old Boucherie Billebault.
A list of Paris street markets