I can’t help but peer at my feet when I shop at street markets in Paris. I imagine generations of shoppers who have stepped on the same well-worn cobblestones. I conjure up women swishing by in long dresses and men in buttoned-up shoes. The imaginary shoppers that share my path crisscross historical periods–some peaceful and prosperous; others overcast by sorrow and deprivation. But no matter how the fashions, politics, and times have changed, one constant is that these street markets are still located where Parisians have been shopping for centuries.
Dixon Long and I include a dozen market streets in The Markets of Paris, 2nd ed. Add to that over 70 regularly occurring open-air markets, 10 covered markets, and 2 major gourmet food halls–and you’ll see why Paris could be dubbed the City of Markets as easily as the City of Lights.
Rue Mouffetard‘s history literally shows in many of the buildings that line its market. Be sure to lift your eyes so as not to miss that.
Rue Cadet’s street market, or the markets along rue Daguerre, rue de l’Annonciation, rue Poncelet, rue de Lévis, rue du Poteau-rue Duhesme, and rue Dejean are unique in other ways. They’re all worth visiting for a sense of a Parisian shopping tradition that carries forward to present day.
We honed our selection to street markets that are easy to traverse as pedestrian walkways. There are even more if you count other virtual market streets that permit vehicular traffic and buzz with commercial activity, such as rue des Martyrs, rue de Buci, rue Passy, and others.
Here are 5 reasons why I love shopping market streets in Paris:
1. They’re pleasant to stroll. Most are narrow streets lined with smooth cobblestones. Vehicles are limited (although motorcycles and vans are sometimes permitted access).
2. They’re open more days of the week than open-air markets, which are typically open only one or two mornings each week. Many shops along street markets are open Tuesday through Saturday mornings and late afternoons (some close for lunchtime), as well as Sunday mornings. But note that hours vary, so check the hours listed in the book.
3. They offer double-density shopping opportunity. Vendors line up their goods on sidewalks and behind them is a row of shops. Often it’s the same ownership, but not always.
4. Some say that the food items requiring certain temperatures are fresher along markets streets than outdoor markets. The supply is restocked from shops behind the stalls.
5. There are more cafés. Typically there are several welcoming spots along the market streets to relax, refresh, and people-watch as other shoppers amble past.
Do you have a favorite street market in Paris? Why do you like to shop at them (or not)? I would love to hear!