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MarkinHouston

Paris Markets

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If it is true, it certainly makes sense  - in London, unless it says 'farmers market', it's not. How many Savoiard cheesemakers are going to drive overnight to Paris once a week? In general I am guessing that the stall holders are professional market traders who get their food mostly from Rungis, I imagine - it's the ones who get there earlier and have better relationships with the suppliers at Rungis (which I am guessing probably gets its stuff from a variety of suppliers too) who have the more delectable tomatoes etc. etc.

Anyway I might be totally wrong - I hope I am. BUt I wouldn't be shocked..

I still prefer those markets to UK ones (super and otherwise).

Oh, mercy, please, my friend, do me a favor: not here. It was painful enough on the "Myth" thread, but it was on a non-French section of the forum, so that was sort of okay. I'd be broken-hearted to see that kind of thing here, where the regulars are more informed. Just use the link provided by John, you'll find everything. No need to repeat that here.

I haven't heard of a myth thread, but I'm not basing my thoughts on anything I've read there or here. I'm very pleased to learn I'm completely off base, that a lot of what I've read (on and offline, plus trade sources); and what I've heard from locals like yourself as well as the market traders themselves; and what I've observed, in terms of the unevenness of quality at the few markets with which I'm pretty familiar, having visited them regularly for 10 years or so, is just wrong.

It actually was John himself to whom I was responding, when he said (rhetorically) 'say it isn't so', and to which I responded that even in France, of all places, it may be so.

But I'm pleased the matter is completely settled, and that all products at markets across France are just hours from being pulled from the ground or running around the yard.

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I was making dinner for friends last night and wanted some of Joel Thibault's beautiful beets for a salad, so I trecked to his stand in a market in the 16th.

He has amazing products and the staff couldn't have been more helpful, explaining each vegetable and giving tips. It was definitely worth the trip.

gallery_7346_2565_20101.jpg

Potatos

gallery_7346_2565_47425.jpg

Carrots

gallery_7346_2565_21805.jpg

More carrots

gallery_7346_2565_51178.jpg

Radishes


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Within these markets...are there any particular vendors and products worth visiting? 
Wednesday-Thursday, in Le Monde, Jean Claude Ribaut had an article on great veggies one get get from truck farms; mentioning three individuals/suppliers in particular: Joël Thiébault at the Alma market, Jean Zay at Levallois Perret (Weds and Sat AM’s), and Jean-Marc Defresne at the Henri-Barbusse market in Levallois, (Tues, Fri & Sun AM’s) as well as the Argenteuil market (Weds & Sat AM’s.)

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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For the information of those living/visiting around the Anvers Metro, we stumbled across a nice looking temporary market around the Place d'Anvers. It's open Friday all day, thus in the afternoon which is good to know. We'll assess the quality of the tomatoes tonight.


John Talbott

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I am moving to the 10th this weekend, right off the Canal St Martin and this will be my closest market, does anyone know it?

Marché Alibert

Rue Alibert le long de l’hôpital St-Louis.

Dimanche, 7h à 15h

Métro : Goncourt


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The US based members will have encountered this article in the February 3rd New York Times already, but those of us who were/are in France missed it because it was not in the IHT.  In any case, sharp-eyed member Paga, noted that in William Grimes' "Forget the Freedom Fries.....", a review of six books on France, he quoted Michele de La Pradelle, author of "Market Day in Provence" (Univ of Chicago Press, $35,) translated by Amy Jacobs from the 1996 French version "Les Vendredis de Carpentras" (Broché, 19,71 E) as saying that "all those farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, those delectable cheeses, those mouth-watering pâtés, come from the same wholesalers who supply the stores."  Say it ain't so, Joe or Bill or Michele.

We've talked before and Ptipois has reminded us that markets albeit looking like "farmer's markets" do not necessarily have their own produce, but it was shocking even to FR 2 tonight to discover that roadside stands in the country were selling produce from other countries. I haven't seen this in the print press so I have no link to the story.

John Talbott

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One thing should be clear and, judging by the difficulty I had to get the message home, it is not easy for US people to accept it. The concept of "farmer's market" is not French. It is completely American, there is nothing of the sort in France.

The closest things are the odd marché biologique, a few "marchés de producteurs" where everything is strictly regulated (and you'll get only stuff from producers there, period), or theme markets that are held in very definite places and have sometimes been around for centuries (like the garlic fair in Billom, the "foire à la sauvagine" (game market) in Montferrand…)

Apart from those examples, a French market has a little of everything, some producers (who are not required to sell only stuff they have grown), some bio stalls, some fruit and veg stands selling excellent products from local production, some other selling stuff from the wholesale market, some cheap clothes and shoes, some tourist junk, etc, etc. There is no obligation to cater to any idea of purity. The way to tell which is what is 1) to look at the chalkboards, which are supposed to give you all necessary information, and 2) to ask directly questions about what comes from where, in case it is not on the chalkboard. The vendor is legally bound to give you a sincere answer. This does make market-going a bit tricky for people who do not speak French, for they have to rely on the immediately visible and that's sometimes where the tricks are played. But trickery on markets is a detail, not an institution.

An advice I would give is: rely on your own knowledge of products and their quality. If you know what a good turnip or healtly lettuce looks like as compared to low-grade, "industrial" vegs, you should know your way around.

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One thing should be clear and, judging by the difficulty I had to get the message home, it is not easy for US people to accept it. The concept of "farmer's market" is not French. It is completely American, there is nothing of the sort in France.

An advice I would give is: rely on your own knowledge of products and their quality. If you know what a good turnip or healtly lettuce looks like as compared to low-grade, "industrial" vegs, you should know your way around.

To me it always seems pretty obvious who is selling their own products and as far as I can tell it is clearly marked. It is usually a very simple stand with a handful of vegetables, and certainly only what is in season. I often go to a guy from Normandy but it is obvious that these are his vegetables and even says so. His products don't look prestine and depending on the season he might have carrots, leeks, cabbage, potatoes, etc, but he certainly doesn't have mangos and the like.

At Nation, which is a VERY large market, there are only a handful of "producteurs", so it is not very common. But this doesn't mean that the other places have low-quality products. I am very careful about where I shop and once I like something, I stick to it.

And, like Ptipois notes, there are normally signs that tell you where everything is from and what category they are.


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If you are interested in buying vegetables direct from the farm you can do so through the following organisations

AMAP

Une Association pour le Maintien d'une Agriculture Paysanne (AMAP),

http://amap-idf.org/

and I just came accross this organisation which has 4 farmers selling direct. You order your basket of vegetables and fruits, which can then be picked-up at a distributer in your neighborhood. One plus, is that you don't have to commit to an entire year and so can try it out on a temporary basis, which is not the case with AMAP, as far as I know.

Tous Primeurs

www.tousprimeurs.com


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I'm afraid my writing may have led to some misunderstanding.

This was a French TV news at 8 report by French journalists using the words scandal and fraudulent, about tiny road side farm stands in rural France (I think Provence) with just a few products advertised on chalkboards without their provenence, but when the camera went in back and filmed the boxes they came out of, they were clearly from other countries and, in the case of tomatoes, hothouse in origin.


John Talbott

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I, as I pretty much usually do, agree with Pti.

Its not usually hard to tell what's local. Is it in season? And is it something that's capable of being grown in France? (Clementines in February for example)

The signs should also be a good indicator. Personally, I make a point of NOT buying if I can't see/ read the origine sign. Asking is good, but if the stall holder can't take the trouble to obey the regulations I won't be bothered to buy from them.

Another misconception I heard a lot from visitors is that produce on the market is cheaper than in the supermarkets. This is not necessarily true. Many times the supermarkets are more than competitive in both price & quality.

It varies a lot. In our area for some reason the HyperU is head & shoulders above the LeClerc, the Intermarche & Auchan. Much better produce.

Same thing on the markets. Some stall holders just seem to buy better.

I love the little guys who don't have a lot to sell, but come for a bit of income & lots of chat. My absolute favorites are the old boys who semi-secretly sell truffles in season. Real cloak & dagger stuff. Very reticent. I remember one, out of season, who had the most mixed up but charming dog. I asked what kind of dog he was & got the whispered reply; a truffle hound!

Go to the markets with the idea that you will be experiencing a way of life and social event as well as an opportunity to buy & you won't be disappointed.

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At Nation, which is a VERY large market, there are only a handful of "producteurs", so it is not very common. But this doesn't mean that the other places have low-quality products.  I am very careful about where I shop and once I like something, I stick to it.

The handful of "producteurs" is the usual ratio in a Paris market. There are also "semi-producteurs" like Thierry at the Monge market, who does sell the products from his farm and rounds them up with bought stuff (tomatoes when his are not in season, globe courgettes, watercress, etc.) that is always carefully chosen by him. In France this is perfectly all right. When I ask him "did you grow these?" he will always tell the truth. Another vendor at this market is my friend Mr. Zamba, who sells potatoes. Now although most of his potatoes come from Brittany, ile de Ré or Noirmoutier, he can be considered a producer because he does sell a special type of potato that he had created especially for him and grows somewhere in the Essonne. Everything else is not his production but this one is. He also sells some outstanding malinké mangoes from Mali (a great orange-fleshed mango that does not get stringy when ripe) and no less outstanding pineapple from Bénin. Which he hasn't produced but he went to Benin to establish trade relationships with the growers. So the situation is very different from what is called a farmers' market in the US but that is the way markets go here.

Going back to the "producer ratio" at Paris markets it may be interesting to note that this ratio is sometimes more generous in suburban markets, especially in vegetable-growing suburbs like Saint-Denis and parts of the 78 (Yvelines). The quality of producer stalls in the Eastern suburbs (Le Perreux, Nogent-sur-Marne, Vincennes) is remarkable.

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but when the camera went in back and filmed the boxes they came out of, they were clearly from other countries and, in the case of tomatoes, hothouse in origin.

Not that I want to defend a priori the roadside vendors (who are perfectly able to sell n'importe quoi to gullible tourists and even gullible nontourists), but crate and box recup is an everyday practice with fruit and vegetable growers and "producteurs" sell their stuff in Spanish or Italian crates all the time. It all depends on the state of the boxes: if obviously they were opened for the first time, like unwrapped and clearly straight from Holland or Spain, then the stuff was not from their land. But a crate or even a box printed with Spanish or Italian or Dutch brand names proves nothing in the case of market producers or even roadside vendors.

Not that I want to prove the vendors innocent. Not at all. I haven't seen the TV show. But I have grown to question the competence and honesty of much TV investigation even before I question the honesty of the objects they focus on. And I know that many French people are lousy shoppers and can't tell a home-grown tomato from a Dutch-grown tomato when it is sitting in a recuperated Dutch crate. So I suspect that the TV people can't be better shoppers than the average.

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I am moving to the 10th this weekend, right off the Canal St Martin and this will be my closest market, does anyone know it?

Marché Alibert

Rue Alibert le long de l’hôpital St-Louis.

Dimanche, 7h à 15h

Métro : Goncourt

I went there a few times when I lived in the 11th on rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud - it's tiny, but has some good things. I found the quality better than the more schlocky Belleville-Couronnes market. When I lived in that neighborhood (most of 2005), I used to go further afield, up to Pyrénées or down to bd Richard Lenoir off Oberkampf, rather than the closer Belleville-Couronnes.

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I am moving to the 10th this weekend, right off the Canal St Martin and this will be my closest market, does anyone know it?

Marché Alibert

Rue Alibert le long de l’hôpital St-Louis.

Dimanche, 7h à 15h

Métro : Goncourt

I went there a few times when I lived in the 11th on rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud - it's tiny, but has some good things.

Thanks Sharon! I went last weekend and you are right, it is tiny. Maybe 5-6 stalls in all. They had beautiful vegetables though, not organic, but none are treated after harvesting. They must have had 20 kinds of baby greens, some of which I had never seen. I got a handful of each and have been eating salad all week! One was a strange seaweed looking thing, which was a green twisted stalk, which turned out to be surprisingly light. I think perhaps it was Salicorne.

I think I will try the covered market at Gare de l'est next...


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Mm, salicornes! I used to eat those in La Baule.

As for the Marché Saint-Quentin (the covered market near the Gare de l'Est), I think it used to be a little sketchy, but that quality has improved. I strayed in there once a few years ago, and it was the first time I'd seen lamb's testicles on the market. I usually love offal, but one of the worst foods I've ever eaten was rooster testicles, so I steered clear...

Have you been to the tiny market on bd Richard-Lenoir and Oberkampf (not the larger on on Richard-Lenoir near Bastille)? I seem to recall a tempting fowl purveyor...

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There are markets - and markets. Many are good for people looking to buy things to take home and cook. Like the Union Square Market in New York. Others do that - but also cater to people - not only tourists - who might like to eat some of the things that the vendors sell at or near the market. Like the Granville Market in Vancouver - or the Viktualienmarkt Market in Munich. Since I doubt I will be buying a bunch of stuff at any market in Paris - and taking it home to my hotel room to cook - but am very interested in sampling what markets have to sell - which markets in Paris would be best for me - and people like me? Robyn

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We often head for the Richard Lenoir market, that runs north from Bastille, when we are looking for a ready-to-eat snack or lunch on a Thursday or Sunday. There are several stands that sell hot foods and many more that can supply you with charcuterie, cheese, wine and of course fruit.


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