I’m recently back from several weeks in France. I gave presentations at the American Library in Paris, the Bloom Where You’re Planted Program (held annually at the American Church), and the American Embassy in Paris. Shakespeare and Company hosted a book signing. At each event, it was exciting to meet so many people who appreciate the local markets, whether they be long-time residents or travelers passing through for only a couple days. Or somewhere in between, as was the case with American Embassy employees and many attending the Bloom program who want to make the most out of living in Paris during at least several years’ assignment there.
When not giving presentations about the markets of Paris, take 1 guess where I was. You got it. At the markets themselves. I squeezed in as many as I could to see what might have changed since my last visit. I stopped by vendors who’ve by now become friends or at least familiar faces. On the weekend I focused on organic markets–Saturday’s market on boulevard des Batignolles (on the border of 8th & 17th arrondissements), and Sunday’s Raspail market. I was happy to learn that Michel Beucher (whom I refer to as the Singing Cider Man) recently won a top prize for his Calvados.
Midweek, I returned to covered markets such as Beauvau in the 12th and Saint-Germain in the 6th (the latter felt spruced up & more pleasant than during my previous visit), street markets along rue Passy and Aligre, and the outstanding outdoor market along avenue Président Wilson. During one excursion to Montmartre, I returned to the fabric market Saint-Pierre and bought a couple silky tassels that I attached to window blinds back home.
Another outing to the same neighborhood landed me in the midst of a pop-up brocante fair.
Both planning and luck play a part in making these experiences wonderful.
Paris markets are open year-round, but the holiday period is one of the best times for sure. Holiday gifts and specialty foods are flowing in and out of the markets now. One artist I met was Corinne Béguin who sells colorful pouches, jewelry & other accessories that she fashions entirely out of recycled materials.
Game birds, whole rabbits, and hares are prevalent at the markets these days. I no longer flinch at seeing the birds’ feathered heads and pointy feet still attached, nor the rabbits’ fur still shiny…visible signs of freshness and reminders of where the food comes from.
Along with these comings, there are some goings too. One reader reported that the covered fish market in the 15th arrondissement on rue Castagnary (known as Criée du Phare and also Samurais of the Seas) has probably closed. It’s sad to see some markets go, especially ones that fill a niche as well as that one did. But I remain optimistic about the future of markets, especially after meeting so many people who share the passion for seeking them out and shopping there.