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How To Shop at a Farmers’ Market in Paris

Our Guide To Shopping at a Market in Paris
Produce vendor speaking with customer at a fresh food market.
Last updated December 10, 2023
Want to do Paris like a local? There’s nothing better than going to a farmers’ market. And Paris has loads! Here’s what to know before you go.

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For many Parisians, it’s a standard part of their weekly routine to stop by their favorite farmers’ market to pick up their groceries. While supermarkets might have become synonymous with grocery shopping in many cities of the world, in Paris, outdoor farmer’s markets are still going strong.

Open-air markets are strewn all over the City of Light, with different markets held on different days of the week. 

An outdoor market is a must if you want to experience quaint, small-town vibes in the midst of a huge city like Paris. Many locals build long-standing relationships with their produce vendors, cheesemongers, and florists, coming back to the same people week after week. 

Produce vendor speaking with customer at a fresh food market.

The mood still remains distinctly Parisian, while the wares reflect a diverse range of goods in keeping with changing consumer tastes.

On the flipside, a visit to a farmer’s market in Paris is also no walk in the park. Especially if you’re not used to them and you don’t speak French.

Be prepared for a symphony of noises, smells, and a flurry of activity, with people bustling about, trying to pick the season’s freshest produce, or just scurrying over to get to their stalls of choice.

With so many farmer’s markets taking place in different districts of Paris on different days, visit Urbansider’s handy guide on the best outdoor markets in Paris to help you choose where to go. 

But before you go, here are some things you should keep in mind about visiting a farmer’s market in Paris. 

Things on Offer at the Market

Although what’s on offer can vary from market to market, there are some standard stalls you can expect to find at any Parisian farmer’s market.

You’ll find vendors selling all manner of seasonal vegetables and fruits. There are also stalls that sell cheese, meat, bread, and pastries, as well as flowers and seafood. In fact, some markets, like the farmer’s market in Bastille, even have stands where you can taste oysters right then and there. 

Seafood stand at covered food market
Photo by Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

Arrive Early

French farmers’ markets usually start early in the morning and end around noon. The market also tends to get very crowded with a peak around 11am or so.

Arriving early gives you a better selection of produce and other items, while also ensuring you can enjoy your time in the market without feeling jostled or hurried along by the throng of other customers. 

Parisians lining up at the open-air market.
Locals lined up as they wait to purchase charcuterie at the Marché Belgrand. Photo by Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey.

However, getting to a farmer’s market towards its closing time (usually past noon) also has its advantages.

A lot of vendors start marking down the price of goods such as vegetables, meat, bread, and flowers as they start packing their wares to leave the market. So, getting there late could mean saving a lot of money on your grocery bill as long as you aren’t picky.

Bring Cash

While some vendors may accept credit or debit cards, it’s always a good idea to have cash on hand when shopping at a market in Paris.

Many vendors at French farmers’ markets only accept cash, while others might accept debit or credit card payments that require a minimum amount (from 1-15 euros). 

Euro bills

Bring Your Own Bag

French farmer’s markets usually don’t provide bags, so it’s a good idea to bring your own reusable shopping bag. You might find some stands providing plastic bags, but it’s admittedly not great for the environment.

If you want to blend in with the locals, most of them arrive to shop at the farmer’s market with their own shopping bags or even carts / buggies. In French, we call this a ‘caddie’, and although it might not be glamorous to look at, it’s an extremely efficient way to carry home a week’s worth of groceries while walking back home. 

I love Paris bag by Kasia Dietz
Looking for a cute bag to take to the Paris markets with you? This I Love Paris Bag makes for a great souvenir and is ‘super pratique’!

Ask for Recommendations

French vendors are passionate about their products and can give you great recommendations.

For example, if you’re hosting a party and want to make a cheese platter, the cheesemonger can advise you on the perfect cheese pairings according as per your taste, as well as the wine and food you plan on serving.

The same goes for meat: name the dish you want to cook, and the butcher will have suggestions about which cut of meat you should get, and how long it should be cooked. This is the way locals usually shop: by learning more about the products from the people who (usually) know best. 

However, if you don’t speak French at all, you’ll almost definitely experience a language barrier. So, it can also be helpful to know some basic French phrases.

Paris market shopping experience and French cooking class.
A bit nervous to shop the Paris markets on your own? Reserve an experience with a local chef to shop for your own ingredients and make your own meal.

Even basic French words such as “Bonjour” (hello) and “Merci” (thank you) can go a long way in establishing a good rapport with the vendors.

Take Your Time

Even if everyone around you might look hurried, but don’t be fooled.

Paris farmers’ markets aren’t just about shopping; they’re also about socializing and slowing down to enjoy yourself. Take your time, enjoy the atmosphere, and soak up the local culture. Grab a croissant at the boulangerie stand, or a crêpe, find some coffee, and enjoy people watching at a Parisian farmers’ market.

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