Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved food shopping. One of my fondest childhood memories is of jumping on my bike to go and buy everything on the shopping list my mother gave me. I felt the satisfaction of finishing a task, the pride of helping my mom, and the enjoyment of riding my bike, all at the same time.
As I’ve gotten older, I began talking to the vendors and became a more conscious shopper. I do still struggle with the amount of food to buy though, especially when it comes to cheese and charcuterie. Thankfully now my wife helps me control myself — she’s told me off enough times that I finally managed to learn!
Unsurprisingly, the first thing we bought after moving to Paris was a shopping buggy. The open market in the 16th Arrondissement is very close to my daughter’s school, so every Wednesday you’ll find me and my little orange chariot on Avenue du President Wilson in search of the best seasonal produce for our kitchen.
In France, it’s required for all produce labels to list the item’s origins. This rule makes it easy to find local produce – if you see a sign or sticker indicating “Ile-de-France” or the zip code of one of the surrounding areas (starting with either 77, 78, 91, 93, 94, or 95), you know it’s coming from around Paris and you’re supporting a local business. When you’re not busy trying all the best restaurants in Paris, you can even order weekly or monthly panier, or basket, of fresh produce directly from vendors if you’re able to commit to spending (and eating) a certain amount of fruit and veg on the regular. Every day of the week there’s an open market happening in a different part of Paris. You can find them all listed on the city’s official website, or Urbansider’s selection of the 5 Best Food Markets in Paris here.
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While the various food markets that pop up around town are great for finding fresh, local fare, it can be tough to remember which ones are open when and where. If you’re short on time in Paris but would still like to enjoy some authentic food shopping, I recommend making your way to one of the permanent market streets in the city instead. Since it’s so hard to pick a favorite, I’m listing my top five Paris food market streets based on my walking route through the streets of Paris.
Among the streets I’ll write about, this is the one that has and still continues to undergo the most radical changes. In the 17th century, this was one of the worst slums of the city. The street was also called “the Cour des Miracles,” meaning the center of miracles, taking its nickname from the beggars who emerged from it pretending to be disabled and who returned back at night, only to be suddenly cured upon entering back into the street. Although it’s a stone paved street only 72m long (about 230 ft), it has taken on the name of the longest river in Africa.
While for many years, Rue du Nil was one of the nondescript streets of Paris’s textile center, the Sentier district, in 2009, a young chef has changed the whole fate of the street.
Chef Grégory Marchand opened his first restaurant, Frenchie, at No. 5, naming it after the nickname given to him by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. As Marchand’s most important ingredient is fresh, seasonal produce, he cleverly convinced his supplier Terroirs d’Avenir to open three stores right next to his restaurant where they sell prime quality vegetables, fruits, fish, and meat. In 2013, the only provision the restaurant had been missing arrived on the block: good coffee. Since L’Arbre à Café opened, Frenchie’s chef is in the unique position to shop for all of his restaurants’ needs on the same street.
L’Arbre à Café was founded by French coffee expert Hippolyte Coutry in 2009 and opened its first shop in 2013 at number 10. 90% of the coffees sold are biodynamic and they buy 80% of their coffee directly from producers. They are very passionate about supporting sustainable and innovative farming as well as reducing their environmental impact. (PS: By the way, Chef Grégory Marchand has also opened up on the same street a fast food place called Frenchie To Go, a very special wine store called Frenchie Caviste and Frenchie bar à vin where you can share small plates while sitting on bar stools. Who knows, maybe one day they might decide to honor the chef and change the name of the street! )
Some Parisians are certainly luckier than others. Especially if you are living on or around Boulevard de Courcelles, Avenue de Wagram, or Avenue de Villers, and are within a 20-min walk of 2 of the best food shopping streets in Paris. I’ve picked Rue de Lévis for this Top 5, but it’s worth keeping the nearby Rue Poncelet in mind too. Rue de Lévis has been around since the 1600s, although not in its current form. Before the borders of Paris were drawn, it was simply a path leading from Les Batignolles to Monceau.
In the 1800s, when butchers, bakeries, and other food producers started setting up shop here, the street started to become what it is today. Now, the street is filled with independent shops where you can buy all the basic needs for your pantry. One of the most important features of the street is that the shop owners here also have their own association and are as influential as the municipality when a decision needs to be made about the street. For me, the most important shop on the street is Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec’s butcher.
When we first moved to Paris in 2017, I had visited another branch on Avenue Victor Hugo and I was very impressed by both the expertise of the employees and the quality of the product. It was only after the shop closed that I found out that one of the employees was actually Yves-Marie’s son. Before that location closed, I bought all my meat from them. The burger we used to buy was chosen as the best burger meat of the year by Burger Magazine and was also referred by NY Times in 2010 as the best burger meat in the world.
Yves-Marie opened his first shop when he was 19 years old and became the meat provider for the best chefs and restaurants of Paris. In 2003, he was chosen as the best butcher of France. His real expertise is maturation. Even though he faced backlash from the French Butchers’ Association for saying that the meat production in France wasn’t good enough, he started a sort of revolution by collaborating with younger producers who wanted to improve themselves. And as his latest surprise, he has recently announced on his Facebook page that he is ending his career as a butcher and from now on will focus on guiding and counselling younger teams.
When heading to Rue Mouffetard, I love walking up from the Place Georges Moustaki. It’s a lovely square where you’ll wish you could spend time everyday enjoying its little flower-adorned fountain and the surrounding Parisian bistros, cafés, and bookstores.
Rue Mouffetard’s history goes back as far as the Neolithic era. It was even a part of the route to Italy during the Roman times. During the Middle Ages, it was the center of the village of Saint-Médard. In 1724, it was integrated in Paris as the main arterial road to Faubourg Saint-Médard.
One of the most amusing anecdotes about the street is when, in 1938 during the demolition of the building at No. 51, a rolled up canvas full of more than 3,200 pieces of gold fell from the building. It turned out that this treasure belonged to one of Louis XV’s secretaries, Louis Nivelle, who was keeping it for his daughter’s dowry. After WWII, the gold was divided among the workers, Nivelle’s heirs, and the City of Paris. Some of it was sold for great profit at various auctions, some is now on display at the Monnaie de Paris Museum.
A little farther down the street is another piece of history — the fountain at No. 60 was built in 1624 and has been preserved in its original state.
While on Rue Mouffetard, I recommend you stop in the cheese shop Androuet. It’s earned an EPV etiquette, (Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant – Living Heritage Companies), the highest honor given to a French Company by the State. The title is only awarded to companies that value technical excellence, creativity, and cultural heritage, and following an elaborate selection process.
The shop was established in 1909, by 1920 one could choose from more than 100 varieties of cheese. One could not expect any less from the heritage of Henri and Pierre Androuet, the most famous father and son duo of cheese experts from the 1950s. If you’re curious about the history of French cheeses, you should also take a look at their official website; it has some amazing information and is even available in English!
Read these tips for shopping for cheese in Paris so you can pick your fromage like a pro.
Rue Daguerre is probably the most famous food shopping street in Paris. Named after one of the inventors of the camera, Louis Daguerre, the street’s moniker seems to have determined its fate. By the early 20th century, the street hosted the homes and studios of many artists, including an Oscar-winning producer and director.
Famed Nouvelle Vague film director Agnès Varda moved here in 1951 and lived at No. 86 until her death in 2019. Her 1974 documentary Daguerréotypes is dedicated to the people who live and work on Rue Daguerre. In 2008, for the autobiographical movie Les Plages d’Agnès, part of the street was turned into a beach. Her production company also calls this road home.
Here you can buy everything you need for your kitchen. If you’re following along and have already bought coffee, charcuterie, and cheese from the first three streets I mentioned, it’s now time to purchase some wine!
My choice is once again a sustainable brand that respects the environment. La Cave des Papilles at No. 35. The shop was founded in 2001 by Monsieur Gérard Katz and buys the best organic, biodynamic, and natural wines directly from artisanal vineyards. This means that you can find very rare wines here that you may not find anywhere else in Paris.
Welcome to the newest addition to my list of the top food shopping streets of Paris. Even though it’s a bit more problematic than the other streets due to its narrow sidewalks and wide lanes of traffic, Rue du Rendez-Vous still offers a very enjoyable shopping experience. The street is named as it is, because it was the rendez-vous point for those who went hunting in Bois de Vincennes.
Since this is the last street on my list, it’s time to discuss dessert. My recommendation is a chocolate shop started by 32-year-old artisan, Julien Dechenaud, Chocolatier. After opening his first atelier and boutique outside of Paris in Vincennes, he later decided to enter the league of the chocolate giants on the Rue du Rendez-Vous.
He first met chocolate at his father’s lab when he was still a child, and then started his own adventure at Romaric Boilley in Lyon. After adding the famous Parisian chocolate shops such as Jean-Paul Hévin, Patrick Roger, and Alain Ducasse to his resume, now he offers his own products to chocolate lovers in the same city.
Why do I love this chocolate shop so much? They buy the best beans and then use techniques tailored to each particular type of bean. They use the minimum amount of organic sugar required and don’t use any additives in their products.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little self-guided gourmet walking tour of Paris and that you end up with a full belly, not too empty of a wallet, and lots of great memories.
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