The dairywoman's smile, fresh fish straight from the sea, piles of newly-dug vegetables and sweet-smelling fruit, a merchant raving about a miracle product and curious shoppers milling around the stalls.
When you wander through one of the Paris markets, the city is reduced to the size of a village no cars in the streets and people taking the time to talk to each other again. Not to be missed! Here's a guide to the markets of Paris.
A little history
The Paris markets go back to the very dawn of time (the 5th century more precisely). Paris was called Lutetia and its first market, "Palu", was in the 'Ile de la Cité' district.The market-place provided an opportunity to exchange both merchandise and ideas.
Palu eventually disappeared, but the markets continued to blossom. By 1860, there were 51. With the re-opening of the "Enfants Rouges" market, the oldest covered market in Paris, and with the creation of new markets (with the development of consumption trends), the capital can today boast more than 90 markets of all shapes, sizes and specialities.
Your market day
Choose between 65 open-air markets or 13 covered markets. They sell everything, but above all you will find high quality fresh products, and a level of professionalism that is often handed down from father to son.
Coster-mongers, butchers, delicatessen dealers, fishmongers, poulterers, dairywomen and florists all offer the freshest products available. And between the 1st and the 20th, there will be a market in every district of Paris, bringing a flurry of life to the capital and its inhabitants.
Good to know: the covered markets are permanently open, whereas the open-air markets are only on two or three mornings a week (generally from 7am to 2.30pm). For late risers, there are also after-noon markets: the Saint-Honoré (1st district), Bourse (2nd), Baudoyer (4th) and Bercy (12th) markets are on Wednesdays and the Anvers (9th) market is on Fridays.
For 100 % natural products, there are 3 organic markets: Raspail (6th, Sundays from 9am-2pm), Batignolles (8th, Saturdays from 9am-2pm) and Brancusi (14th, Saturdays from 9am-2pm).
In order to deck out your balcony or garden with flowers, the flower markets are a must: the 'Place de la Madeleine' (8th, from Monday to Saturday, from 8am-7.30pm), the 'Place des Ternes' (17th, every day except Monday, from 8am-7.30pm) and the "Marché de la Cité", in the 'Place Louis Lépine' and on the banks of the Seine nearby (4th, everyday except Monday, from 8am-7.30pm, together with the bird market on Sundays from 8am to 7pm).
For fans of fashion there is the clothes market: Carreau du Temple (3rd, from Tuesday to Saturday from 9am-7pm and on Sundays from 9am-12pm). And stamp-lovers will want to be at the bottom of the Champs-Élysées (8th) on Thursdays, Saturdays and all day on Sundays.
Paris also has markets dedicated to creativity, which are in fact outdoor galleries, where art lovers can meet artists, painters, sculptors, engravers and photographers, and can purchase their favourite works at "workshop" prices: the Bastille (11th, Saturdays from 9am-7.30pm) and Edgar Quinet markets (14th, Sundays from 9am-7.30pm).
If you like bargain hunting in a friendly and cosmopolitan atmosphere, head for the Aligre Market where old clothes, fruits, vegetables and second-hand goods are all mixed up together (12th, every day except Mondays, from 7.30am-1.30pm).
Not forgetting, of course, the "Puces" (the Paris flea-markets) where you can find every imaginable type of article: from old collectors' papers to clothing, second-hand goods and antiques from all eras. Professionals tend come early to find rare bargains, whilst the general public often spend entire days here: the Vanves (14th, Saturdays and Sundays from 7am-7.30pm), Clignancourt (18th, from Saturday to Monday from 7am-7.30pm) and Montreuil "Puces" (20th, from Saturday to Monday from 7am-7.30pm).
For market days and addresses:
The Paris Tourist Office: