Raspail Organic Market
It is a cold, rainy Sunday morning, but I don’t mind. I never mind a cold Sunday morning in Paris, because the treats and the vendors at my local organic market are full of warmth. As I head out the door, I can almost smell the potato pancakes sizzling on the griddle chez Les Gustalins. It is always my first stop, mostly because it is the first stand on the right as I approach boulevard Raspail from rue du Cherche Midi in the 6th Arrondissement. But also because I have an unhealthy addiction to these cheesy, oniony, meltingly moist treats. And the owner is a character: handsome, with a decent command of Japanese, he offers free galettes to any kids who can recite from memory a fable by Jean de La Fontaine (the French version of Aesop). This was a great incentive for my girls when they were young.
My belly satisfied, I head down the aisle, past the fruit stands, the cheesemonger, the poultry butcher and the hot-chocolate/chai stand across the street, toward Le Tourne Bouchon. It’s a little hole-in-the-wall overflowing with vendors from the market, savoring their morning dose of calvados. They create a vibrant neighborhood scene where I enjoy one of the best café crèmes in the city. I may even return later in the day for an excellent house-made couscous, when perhaps the French film star Vincent Lindon will come by with his friends to add to the entertainment.
The basic necessities out of the way, I continue to La Cucina, a stand run by a romantic young couple who met through the market. She specialized in Italian delicacies, and he knew seaweed and salt. I like to imagine that it was the seductive perfume of the truffles he digs up every winter that first brought them together. But it’s nearly summer, so no truffles for me.
This is an organic market, and I know that what I am looking for may not be here because it is not in season. But I get lucky with my produce man, who happens to have some fraises des bois, the wild, miniature strawberries that melt on your tongue, with a flavor so intense you think they are candy. I am in heaven.
I stop at the milk stand to get a bottle of raw milk for the girls. They love its grassy, sweet flavor. While here, I take a moment to select my yogurt, eggs and cheese.
The shopping nearly done, I head to the side of the market along the rue de Rennes and pick up two chocolate crepes for the lazy teens at home. And as a reward for having been so good, I buy myself a spray of sweet-pea blossoms. The blooms are rare at the market and a sign of spring, even if we are all cold enough today to be wearing our winter gear. Their spicy, sweet fragrance means that summer is nearly here. We hope.
Raspail Organic Market
Blvd Raspail, from rue du Cherche-Midi to rue de Rennes, in the 6th.
Le Tourne Bouchon
71, blvd Raspail, in the 6th. 01 45 44 15 50.