Between gourmet restaurants and tasting classes, enjoying world-famous Parisian cuisine can quickly become an expensive affair. However, one of the best ways to get an authentic taste of the City of Light is by shopping for food in local stores and markets.
In addition to its selection of eateries, Paris also has a broad array of other food-related venues, ranging from supermarkets to deli-like traiteurs. Plus, if you're looking for a specialty item, Paname also has loads of stores dedicated to everything from vegetarian goods to fine wines. Shopping in Parisian stores and markets is an essential part of your culinary experience, so be sure to spend a day getting lost in an open-air market or prepping for a picnic at a supermarket.
Visiting a market is not only an essential Parisian experience, but it's also the cheapest and most efficient way to sample all kinds of traditional French foods. You'll find farmers' markets, organic markets, international markets, and all kinds of other markets throughout the city, so it's difficult to see all the markets that Paris has to offer in just one trip. You should also keep in mind that many markets have limited opening times, and many are only open for one or two days per week. However, here's a brief guide to some of the best that Paname has to offer.
Marché Bastille is the largest open-air market in Paris with over one hundred stalls selling all kinds of fresh produce and other goods. This market is generally known to be a good source of cheeses, free-range chicken, and fish, and it also sells cheap souvenirs such as jewelry and bags. This market is open on Thursday and Sunday mornings until early afternoon, and you can find it on Boulevard Richard Lenoir in the 11th Arrondissement.
Marché d'Aligre is one of the biggest and oldest markets in Paris, dating back before the French Revolution. It has seasonal fruit and veg, fish, butchers, and even a huge selection of secondhand clothes and other knick-knacks. This market is also open far more regularly than others of its size, so you'll definitely have the opportunity to get lost in it even during a brief trip. It's generally open during business hours Tuesday through Saturday as well as on Sunday mornings, and it's located on Place d'Aligre in the 12th.
If you want to let your taste buds travel the globe without leaving Paname, then visit Marché Saint-Quentin. This covered market on Boulevard Magenta was founded in 1866 in a neighborhood traditionally comprised of immigrants in the 10th arrondissement, so it features foods from Italy, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and beyond. This vibrant market is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 8pm-8am and on Sunday mornings.
If you woke up a bit too late for a traditional market, you can always go to one of Paname's many supermarkets to grab supplies for a home-cooked meal or a picnic. France's amazing culinary culture naturally dictates that even chain grocery stores have fantastic selections of fresh goods along with interesting finds throughout the aisles. Here are some of the best and most common groceries in France.
Franprix is the largest supermarket chain in France, and it naturally has stores all over Paris. The chain offers a cheap generic brand for those on a budget as well as a solid selection of general grocery needs. The other major advantage of this chain is that they have stores open until 10pm on Sundays - a rarity among French groceries.
Carrefour is, effectively, the French version of Wal-Mart. Not only do they carry a standard selection of groceries, but they also have various other goods available, such as an extensive drugstore section and selection of cookware. If you need more than just edibles on your grocery run, then Carrefour is the best place to go.
Picard is to Trader Joe's as Carrefour is to Wal-Mart. They offer great quality products along with an extensive selection of frozen goods. Expect higher prices than Franprix or Carrefour, but if you just want to pop a meal in the oven and be done with it, then Picard is the place to find quality frozen fare.
If you want a pre-made meal without the trouble of choosing a restaurant, then look no further than a traiteur. A traiteur essentially refers to an establishment that provides pre-made meals in some way, shape, or form, so the term encompasses both delis and large-scale caterers. However, unless you're planning an event, you'll likely stick to traiteurs that resemble delis. You can find them throughout the city, and some supermarkets will even have traiteur sections with a salad bar, meats, and other deli classics.
Paris also has loads of specialty food stores, ranging from gourmet cheese shops to ethnic groceries to organic health food stores. Though it's borderline impossible to list all of these shops, here's a guide to some of the best and most interesting ones in Paris.
La Grande Epicerie is part of the Bon Marche department store in the 6th arrondissement, and it's considered by many to be the best food shop in Paname. La Grande Epicerie features classics along with delights from around the globe. It also features themed gift boxes to bring home as souvenirs.
L'Epicerie du Verre Volé on Rue de la Folie Mericourt is a specialty store and cafe all in one. You can create your own sandwich with the high-quality ingredients found within the épicerie, such as Italian pesto and smoked herring. Within L'Epicerie du Verre Volé, you'll also find all kinds of niche and international brands from English beer to Indian spices.
La Fermette is the place to go for all of your cheese needs. Located on Rue Montorgueil in the 2nd arrondissement, this bustling store sells every cheese from classic brie to all varieties of goat cheese. It also sells jams and pickles for your feast, and vendors will often vacuum-seal your haul if you want to take it home with you.
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