Ultimate French Market Tour Guide – Eat Like the French by Visiting a Paris Market

Bienvenue! Here is a self guided French Market Tour for you to enjoy. Ready to embark on an extraordinary culinary adventure in France? This free french market guide should give you all the tips you need to Tour a French Market like a chef. As we delve into the heart of Parisian markets, unlocking the secrets to making the most out of your French Market Food Tour. Don’t miss our video guide for an immersive experience.

Watch the Video and Take a tour of my local market with me

Why Should you do A French Market Tour?

In my opinion, no visit to Paris is complete without exploring the local food markets. With over 90 markets a week, each visit is a journey into the authentic flavours of French life. On your tour of a french market you will discover new recipes, find the freshest ingredients, and unearth the best deals.

As a family, we avoid shopping at a super market instead we visit our local market twice a week. We don’t just do this to get better, more sustainable produce but because it is an important link for us with the local community. Consistently heading to the market to buy all of our produce gives us an advantage when it comes to knowing the best market traders and getting the best deals. For you on your French Market Tour I understand that it may be a little Which is why we invite you to tour a french market with us for one of the family friendly food tours we offer here at “Eat Like the French”.

Best Food Markets to Tour in Paris

While there is a huge selection of Markets to Tour in Paris, I wanted to pick a few that I highly recommend as they have the amazing atmosphere that you want from a parisian market along with the right prices.

Marche d’Aligre, Paris 12th

Marche d'aligre is one of the oldest and best markets French Market Tour in Paris. This image shows the market street and the covered market on the right.

Step into the historical tapestry of Paris at Marché d’Aligre, a market that has withstood the test of time, surviving the turbulent years of 1789 and 1871. This iconic market remains a lively hub, where the hustle and bustle of second-hand treasures, eclectic bric-à-brac, and affordable food transport you to a bygone era.

Timeless Ambiance: Marché d’Aligre is a testament to resilience, maintaining its character and offerings as if untouched by the changing cityscape. Delve into the unique atmosphere shaped by the market’s longstanding history, where every corner exudes the charm of a Paris that defies the passage of time.

Diverse Offerings: Your journey through Marché d’Aligre promises a diverse experience, shaped by the particular section you choose to explore. Navigate to the top of the street for a rendezvous with seasonal fruit and vegetables, a true embodiment of freshness priced between €1 and €3 per kilogram.

Covered Beauvau Market: Embark on a detour through the covered Beauvau market, revealing a different facet of the market experience. Here, encounter pricier yet exquisite offerings from fishmongers and butchers, showcasing the premium quality that defines this historical market.

Eclectic Finds: Marché d’Aligre is not just a marketplace; it’s a treasure trove of diverse discoveries. Wander through the main yard to encounter a motley collection of books, African masks, and other intriguing trinkets adorning the stands. Each item tells a story, adding a layer of cultural richness to your exploration.

Embark on a journey through time and diversity at Marché d’Aligre, where the echoes of history mingle with the vibrancy of the present. Whether you seek fresh produce, unique finds, or a glimpse into Parisian resilience, this market offers an immersive experience that transcends the ordinary.

Top Tip – Visit Early Bird Coffee in the center of the covered market for a delicious fresh artisanal roasted Coffee run by an Irish and French couple.

Marche Mouffetard, Paris 5th

Marche Mouffetard is one of the oldest and best markets to take a tour of in Paris. This image shows the market and some of the amazing buildings on the street where it is held.

Step into the enchanting world of Marché Mouffetard, a market street immortalised by Hemingway who described it as ‘A Moveable Feast.’ This captivating and lively marketplace, as described by the literary master, unfolds as a wonderful, narrow, and crowded haven for Parisian flavors.

Atmosphere of Charm: Cobblestone pathways weave through the lower stretches of this market street, creating an atmosphere that resonates with the city’s history and charm. The quaint buildings lining the street contribute to making Marché Mouffetard one of the most atmospheric street markets in Paris.

Abundant Freshness: Hemingway’s depiction still holds true today as the market showcases bright and bustling stalls laden with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. The lower extents of the market remain true to their roots, offering a delightful array of organic and fair-trade produce.

Gastronomic Delights: Beyond the vibrant fruit and veg stalls, Marché Mouffetard boasts a diverse array of gastronomic treasures. Explore grocers offering not only the finest fruits and vegetables but also indulgent charcuterie, flavorful pâtés, succulent seafood, rich cheeses, and irresistible sticky pastries.

Weekly Extravaganza: Elevating the market experience, on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday mornings, Marché Mouffetard seamlessly transitions into the renowned Marché Monge, located on Place Monge. This extension of culinary excellence introduces visitors to even more exceptional food, with a particular emphasis on the allure of freshly baked bread.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of Marché Mouffetard, where each step echoes the culinary legacy of Paris. Discover the essence of this market street, where the past meets the present, offering an unrivaled experience for those seeking the best of Parisian markets.

Top Tip – Visit “Le Verre à Pied” for a coffee at the bar or something a little stronger with the traders from the market.

Billancourt & Escudier Market, Boulougne-Billancourt

marche billancourt Eat Like The French! June 22, 2023

Well off the beaten Track, this is my local market which is held across two locations, six days a week in the Parisian suburb of Boulougne-Billancourt. While not as extravagant or as beautiful as some of those you will find around Paris, this is a truly a local market for locals. Its multiple cheese stalls, butchers and local veg growers vie for attention between stalls stacked high of trinkets and antiques.

Cheerful Traders – The traders here have time to spend with, often grinning you can tell they love their jobs. Thanks to the fact there are not many tourists and manly locals, the traders spend time chatting to you and will happily attempt some broken english if you want.

Sensibly Priced Gastronomy – Prices in Paris can often make you wince, here you will find far more fair and sensibly priced goods that represent more what you will find in the rest of France. Obviously, we are still in one of the richest suberbs of Paris so there are luxuries you will need to take home!

Family Friendly – If you head to one of the markets held during the week, tuesday, wednesday or friday you will find it calm and really aprochable for families. No pickpockets or scammers here. Kids are often handed flowers, balloons and tasters by the traders while you relaxingly tour the market.

Blend in with the locals and get great food at sensible prices. Taste traditional delights from france, north africa and most of europe in this friendly and approachable market. For more info find the addresses and times here.

Top Tip – Visit my friend Armundo at his coffee stand for an espresso and a chat to feel the beat (kids sat on the bar are often given free chocolates)

The Biggest French Market – Rungis

This would be a terrible guide to the markets in Paris if I did not include what is considered one of the largest food markets in the world. Stretching over 234 hectares, this market is a city within the city. It’s history spans hundred of years of food and trading traditions and was opened in 1969.

While you are here in Paris, most of the food you eat will have gone through this market.

The ultimate market to tour in Paris is Rungis. But you will find it very tough to get in if you are not a professional or a school. Visit their tour website to see if you can find a place for your group, or get in touch. I may be able to help 😉

What follows are all the things you need to know to have a successful self guided french market tour. If you prefer to have helping hand on your next trip to Paris, check out our Paris Food Tours and we will come to your aid as your friend food tour guides.

Finding Your Nearest French Market

France boasts over 10,000 markets. To find the perfect market in your area, use the reliable resources of jours-de-marché.fr or marchédefrance.org. Remember that markets are open on different days and each one have unique offerings.

Types of Markets in France

French markets come in two main types: Market Halls (Marché Couvert) and Outdoor Markets. Market Halls, often open regularly, feature permanent stalls, though the best deals can often be found in the smaller, budget-friendly stalls outside. Outdoor Markets, occurring once or twice a week, showcase local and international delights.

Budget-Friendly Shopping

Contrary to common belief, French markets are not always expensive. Over the decade I have lived in France and Paris, I’ve consistently found better quality and prices compared to supermarkets. Focus on buying only what you need, ask for small quantities, and follow the tips in the video guide to secure the best deals.

Preparation Tips

Before you set off for the Market, here are is a little checklist of the Necessary Items for your French Market Tour to ensure you are well prepared:

  • Ideal Market Hours: To make the most of your market experience, go early for the freshest produce or later for potential deals. Beat the crowds and enjoy a relaxed shopping experience.
  • Don’t forget a bag: whether it’s a wicker basket, grandma’s trolley, or a cart for your kids. Taking something to carry
  • Yes, you can use your own containers: with a continued push towards more eco friendly supply chains. Paris market stalls will happily fill your Tupperware with their produce.
  • Take Some Cash: while most market traders will accept card payments following COVID rules in France. Cash is crucial for those fantastic deals on the edge of the market.
  • Write A Shopping List: I always find that if I don’t have a shopping list when I go to a Market I will buy too much or forget something. Make a note of the things you need to get!

Starting your French Market Tour

To Start your French Market Tour, take a leisurely walk around the market, exploring the stalls with the longest lines. Spot the best deals, and if you’re hungry, grab a bite while planning your shopping spree.

I alway take care to note the prices, you will find the market stalls always vary the price that they are selling different items at.

If during your initial walk around you spot good deals on certain items this is normally because this is the produce in season.

Be careful on the quality of the items, here in France fruit and vegetables are always labeled with their origin and category to show you the . The meat will always have a quality label and often show the seals and badges of quality associated with food here.

Interaction and Communication

If you don’t speak french, a trip to the market can be a little bit of a challenge. However, here in Paris you will find that many vendors speak a little bit of english, enough to explain the items they are selling and greet you.

Make sure you say Bonjour to engage with the vendors. If you don’t feel confident with your french ask questions in english, and enjoy the banter that the traders may return to you with. At Eat Like the French, we encourage you to immerse yourself in the local experience.

The Best Order to buy things in a French Market

As a rule of thumb, I try and buy the heaviest items first on my trip to a french market. After walk around and having decided what I’m happy to buy I normally fill my bags with vegetables first, then meat and fruit, then finally the cheese. This saves you from arriving home with squashed cheese and bruised fruits. But obviously can take a little practice if you are not used to shopping in a French market.

Cautionary Tips for the French Market

Central Parisian Markets can often be rife with Tourist Traps. Stay alert in the lively markets, as they can get crowded.

Keep an eye on your belongings. Wallets should be kept in closed pockets and hanbags close to your side. and savor the experience without any worries.

Keep an eye on the scales, tricky market traders will sell you too large amounts of produce as they know you may not have the confidence to say no.

Learn the Language of the Market

Before you go, brush up on some essential French phrases:

  • Bonjour Monseir, Bonjour Madame, S’il vous plaît, Merci
  • Je voudrais (I would like)
  • Je cherche (I am looking for)
  • Je cherche quelque chose pas cher pour faire plaisir à ma femme (I am looking for something inexpensive to please my wife)

Don’t Be Shy!

Dive into the local experience; ask questions, taste new things, and enjoy the banter with the friendly vendors.

Be Specific

When making your purchases, be clear about how much you want. Whether in grams or quantity, precision ensures you get exactly what you need.

As rule of thumb 180 to 200g of meat is a good portion per person although you can often ask the market trader for a portion for X number of people and they will weigh it out in front of you.

I find that many people find the market too expensive due to tricky trader over portioning. This is where you need to be firm. Remember the art of Eating like the french is small portions of good produce. Don’t be afraid to ask for less when the trader shows you how much they are about to cut.

What should I buy at a French Market?

Depending on where you are from in the world will depend on what you can buy and take home. here are my recommendations on what to buy on your tour of the market.

Aromatics –Herbs and Spices are great things to buy when you are traveling because they are lite in your luggage and go a long way in the kitchen. Herbs de provence and Garlic are stable for me to take home when I visit family.

Butter – french butter is the best, and if you get one that is served by the cut (not in a packet) from your local french market it will travel well and you will have a dreamy taste of France when you return home.

Hard Cheese’s – Now while I recommend you buy delicious Brie de Meaux or and AOP Camembert to eat straight away but if you want to take it home get hard cheese’s. The nature of these cheese mean that they will happily travel outside of a fridge for 24 hours, especially if they are vac packed by the market trader and kept in your hold luggage. Almost every cheese trader I know has a vac pack machine to help you travel with your cheese.

Honey, Jam or anything in a jar – Again, wrap it in a plastic bag (in case it explodes) and throw it in your checked luggage. A small taste of french honey or jam will go a long way to rekindling your memory of your trip to France.

Finally – Things you can eat straight away. Grab your Opinel, a loaf of good bread and whatever you got at the market and you have a cheap lunch where ever you are.

French Market Tour Top Tip – Buying a Good Value Lunch on your French Market Tour

For a family of four you can normally grab a tasty lunch for around 30 euro’s in a good market in Paris.

My recommendation is to head to the freshest looking fish stand for some tasty prawns as a starter. Normally you can get 500g of prawns for less than 10 euro and a pot of artisanal mayonnaise to go with it for 3 euros.

Then find the chicken rotisserie stand. Parisians love a roast chicken and prefer to buy it from one of the places selling chickens on a spinning stick to ensure they don’t need to turn their oven on to over heat the apartment in the summer. Grab a small chicken and a portion of some of the roast potatoes that have been cooking in the juices. In my market a medium chicken and potatoes for four costs about 15 euro in my local market.

Finally, Cheese. No french meal is complete without a cheese course. I always recommend trying to get three cheeses for a family; a goats cheese, some brie de meaux and some comte is always a good shout if you want to please everybody in the Family.

Then head to the local bakery for a fresh baguette and if you are feeling fancy grab yourselves a couple of delicious pastries for dessert.

One of the things that surprises people in the markets of Paris is the amount of ready cooked food. The french much prefer to buy freshly cooked food from the market than frozen dinners and you will find that you can get some delicious things to heat up at home on your tour of the market.

Bon Apetit – Have Fun!

Bring your kids, your partner, and embrace the lively atmosphere. Enjoy the queue; it’s all part of the experience, offering a glimpse into the French way of life.

I hope these tips enhance your French market experience! If you found this guide helpful, drop a like or a comment for those tricky algorithms. If you found this guide useful please share it with a friend. Think I missed something? Leave a comment if you have any questions or think I missed something. For more videos and insights about France, sign up for our newsletter or join us on a French Market Tour on your next trip to Paris.

Bon Apetit. À bientôt, bye bye!