With the attention that’s being drawn to the heavy use of pesticides in French agriculture, it’s no surprise that more and more shoppers are seeking organic foods and wines. There are two main ways to buy organic, or bio (pronounced bee-oh), at the neighborhood markets in Paris.
Nearly every outdoor and covered market in Paris has at least one, if not several, stands with a sign announcing “AB” which stands for agriculture biologique, or organic produce. The signs are displayed prominently, and it’s not hard to find them if you’re looking. In France, the rules for being able to declare a product bio are strict. Some farmers use natural methods but are not fully certified as organic either because it takes years to qualify for the label or they have chosen not to go through that process. If you see “producteur direct” signs (a farmer or local producer selling directly), then feel free to ask about their growing methods.
A second—and much better—alternative for finding organic items at the markets in Paris is to attend one of the city’s weekly markets where all vendors are selling organic goods. There are three organic markets in Paris: the Raspail Market in the 6th arrondissement on Sunday morning; the Batignolles Market, at the cusp of the 8th and the 17th arrondissements, on Saturday morning; and the Brancusi Market in the 14th, also on Saturday morning.
The Sunday Raspail market is popular and draws large crowds, especially in summertime. (There’s also a regular market in the same location on boulevard Raspail on Tuesday and Friday, but the organic version is Sunday only.) There’s a wide selection of fresh foods, prepared foods, and non-perishable items in a cosmopolitan setting in the heart of Paris.
The Saturday organic market on boulevard des Batignolles is slightly less well known, but the quality and range of goods are superb. It’s one of my favorite markets because it combines organic options with a leisurely vibe in a spacious setting—what often fits my mood on a Saturday morning. The Brancusi market is significantly smaller than the Raspail and Batignolles organic markets, and yet it serves its neighborhood in and around the 14th arrondissement well.
You’ll find plentiful fresh vegetables and fruits at these markets, as well as organic prepared foods, breads (including gluten-free options), cheeses, and wines. Butchers sell meats without artificial hormones. The organic markets at Raspail and Batignolles also offer a selection of cotton clothing, natural health and beauty products, and organic plants and potting soils.
Vendors go through a lengthy and cumbersome process to qualify, and they’re required to undergo annual inspections. These markets aren’t, however, purely “farmers’ markets.” Some vendors are actual farmers, while others are resellers who’ve purchased their organic inventory from wholesalers.
Organic items are more expensive than their conventionally grown counterparts. For many shoppers that’s a small extra price to pay in exchange for the peace of mind that they’re feeding themselves and their families foods without synthetic chemicals and helping the environment. I recommend doing a bit of comparison-pricing to find the best value among the organic choices. The prices can fluctuate wildly from one stall to another.
The organic trend is on the rise in France. Many shops and conventional grocery stores are expanding their organic selection in response to the public’s wanting to trust that the foods they’re eating were grown safely. Biocoop collectives are throughout the city, Bio C’Bon has several shops, and numerous Naturalia locations stock a range of bio foods and cleaning products. There’s also Le Carillon d’Olivier in Montmartre (34, rue des Abesses in the 18th) and Bien l’Epicerie in the Marais (20, rue Saint-Gilles and 8, rue des Quatre Fils, both in the 3rd). For fresh-grown foods and a more satisfying experience overall, however, I prefer shopping at the neighborhood markets.
The French government is clamping down on the use of pesticides, however their target for cutting back the use by 50% was delayed to 2025 (originally it was 2018). Clearly, many farmers and shoppers aren’t waiting. They have already made the shift to organic and happily so.
Raspail Organic Open-Air Food Market (Le Marché Biologique Raspail) is open Sunday from about 8:30 am to 3 pm. It’s located in the 6th arrondissement on boulevard Raspail, between rue du Cherche-Midi to rue de Rennes. Closest Métro stop is Rennes.
Batignolles Organic Open-Air Food Market (Le Marché Biologique des Batignolles) is open Saturday from about 8:30 am to 2 pm. It’s located at the border of the 8th and 17th arrondissements on boulevard des Batignolles between rue de Turin and rue de Moscou. Closest Métro stops are Rome and Place de Clichy.
Brancusi Organic Open-Air Food Market (Le Marché Biologique Brancusi) is open Saturday from about 8:30 am to 2 pm. It’s located in the 14th arrondissement at place Constantin Brancusi. Closest Métro is Gaîté.
Clotilde Dusoulier (Chocolate & Zucchini) on Where to Buy Organic Foods in Paris
Emily Dilling (writing for HIP Paris) on The Organic Revolution in Paris
Organic Jetsetter (City Guide for Paris) on Organic Paris