Paris Markets: The Marché d’Aligre

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Terrines that are better than homemade, at the Aligre market in Paris

Terrines that are better than homemade.

After all this time in Paris, I have become something of a know-it-all. Not good. It was time to shake things up a bit and see Paris from someone else’s point of view. I needed a private tour of one of the Paris markets. Naturally, I thought of my friend Anne. She has a blog, A Foodie Froggy in Paris, where she gives relatively easy, modern French recipes in English. She also gives cooking lessons in her home a few times a month, edits a few local cooking magazines and occasionally gives tours of the Marché d’Aligre. If that is not enough, I have something of a schoolgirl’s admiration for Anne. She is, to me, the epitome of Parisian chic—beautiful, elegant and incredibly natural about it all. Mercifully, Anne agreed to help me out: Meet me at 11 a.m. in front of Blé Sucré, she ordered. OK, I replied, too embarrassed to admit that I had no idea what the Blé Sucré actually was.

Anne shares cooking secrets and gives private tours of the Aligre market, in the 12th Arrondissement of Paris

Elegant Anne shares her cooking secrets.

A brief Google search later, I had the address and the chef’s name, Fabrice Le Bourdat. I had missed that he had been a pastry chef for the Bristol and his pain au chocolat had been elected best in the city. Anne filled me in immediately and started giving me the inside scoop on the neighborhood. When you take a private Paris market tour, you get to learn things that you won’t find in guidebooks. For example, the park next to the market used to be an orphanage run by nuns, one of whom founded the neighboring covered market to feed the poor and hungry of the neighborhood.

A traditional seed shop at the Aligre market, in the 12th Arrondissement of Paris

A traditional seed shop.

Within the covered market, Anne pointed out her favorite cheesemonger and took me to a spice shop that supplies the Grande Epicerie de Paris. Outside were some of the cheapest vegetable stands in France’s capital, with mounds of mint wafting their perfume among bouquets of cilantro and thyme. The butcher’s shop had a pig’s head proudly displayed in its window, while a spice shop was Anne’s personal treasure trove for exotic herbs. I loved meeting her chocolatier at Goût, Thé et Chocolat—who combs the French countryside for extraordinary chocolatiers who can not yet afford a shop in Paris—and learning about the two Algerian grandmothers making pastries below their tiny shop, Amira.

Gourmet products can be found at the Aligre market in Paris

Mustards good enough for the chicest grocery stores in Paris.

After the market Anne and I headed to the rue Paul Bert, where there is the well-known Bistrot Paul Bert, which we’d enjoyed on previous visits. A perfect end to a private Paris market tour.

INFO:

Blé Sucré
7, rue Antoine Vollon, in the 12th Arrondissement.
01 43 40 77 73.

Amira
17, rue d’Aligre, in the 12th.
01 43 43 18 22.

Related links:

A Foodie Froggy in Paris

Marché d’Aligre

Goût, Thé et Chocolat

Editor’s note: For a market tour with Anne (she’s not available in August), please send us an email at [email protected]. She does the best market tour of Aligre around, and her rates are reasonable.

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