Exploring Paris food markets on a Thursday
It’s 9:00 and my stomach is telling me it’s ready for some food. After running to meet my classmates in front of the RER, I worked up an appetite.
Lucky for me, we are headed to check out three food markets in the Eiffel Tower/Invalides area: Saxe-Breteuil, Rue Cler, and St. Germain.
It’s a cool Thursday morning in July and our small group makes the descent down to the RER B. A quick change to the metro and several stops later we arrive at Saxe-Breteuil Market. The cool air hits us in the face as we walk up the stairs and breathe the fresh air.
As I approach the market, which runs down the middle of Avenue de Saxe, it seems a little empty. A few people here and there look at the booths but not much is going on. It is Thursday. Maybe people don’t shop as often on Thursdays?
The Eiffel Tower serves as a backdrop as we meander down the street in search of breakfast. It is a food market, right? There must be something here we could snack on.
The first booth I approach has an assortment of olives, pickles, and salads. Even though I wouldn’t eat any of those things, the presentation is appetizing.
The fruit and vegetable stands use the colors to their advantage. The bright red peppers contrast with the green beans and cucumbers. The orange carrots pop next to the white onions. I see something that looks like a carrot but is a reddish color. My classmates informs me that it a rainbow carrot. Hmm. Never heard of that before!
Everything is laid out so I can see all the options available.
I walk by a man who has a variety of fried food that I don’t recognize.
“It’s too early for fried food,” my professor said.
I agreed. But, if you’re craving some type of rice and meat at 9 a.m., it’s an option.
After walking by three different fruit and vegetable stands, I heard raspberries call my name. For €2.50, I got a medium sized container of the bright red raspberries.
On the way to Rue Cler, we continued our snacking and bought the obligatory croissant for the day.
Rue Cler is a classic Parisian market. Displays of fruits, vegetables, and meat spill out onto the cobblestone streets. Everything you could need is there: meats, bread, fruit, vegetables, shoes and flowers.
My professor offers a bite of a baguette that just came out of the oven. I pulled off a piece and the warm bread melts in my mouth. If we wanted to try something, we did.
St. Germain, unlike the other two markets, is covered. As we approach the modest building it reminds me of the covered arcades in Italy. Unfortunately, this market disappoints. We peak in one entrance and it looks like there is construction. The next entrance is open so we walk in. Inside the dimly lit market is a pathway of closed stands. All that’s left is a small key shop and a fish stand, fighting to stay open.
Further investigation around the building reveals the history of the market and what the construction is all about. St. Germain Market has been through threats to tear it down, fires, and will now be renovated into a nice, posh shopping center.
For lunch, we stop at Les Deux Magots. Despite the unfortunate name, this is the famous café where Ernest Hemingway spent his time writing and socializing with friends. I eat a delicious croque monsuir to add on to my morning of indulgence. That’s the best way to discover food markets. With an empty stomach!