The city’s richly colored street markets offer an unrivaled taste of France. Melons picked in Provence, geese fattened in the Périgord, ruby-red cherries, milky cheeses, flour-dappled breads, and earthy wild mushrooms are hauled to the city, snapped up, and polished off while still at their peak. Roving marchés volants (street markets) set up twice a week at cockcrow and disappear by lunchtime, leaving in their wake happy customers and satisfied pigeons.
The Saxe-Breteuil market, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, attracts a discerning crowd who think nothing of lining up for 25 minutes to secure the most emerald lettuces and the creamiest cheese for Sunday lunch. Move onto the 16th arrondissement, where you’ll find the President Wilson market; the casually slung Hermès scarves and bags worn by the glamorous shoppers here for a food run are bona fide.
Under the gaze of a rampaging statue of George Washington, locals buy sweet carrots and Cabernet-colored beetroots from the delightful Monsieur Thiébault, whose family has been selling vegetables since 1873. Head to the small, pavement- style Port de Vanves on weekends for 1950s jewellery and vintage glassware. Francophile bookworms should browse the weekend book market held under the metal rafters of a former horse slaughterhouse, now transformed into the pretty Parc Georges Brassens, for rare and second-hand tomes.
Marché Président-Wilson Ave du Président-Wilson, Chaillot; Métro: Iéna; opening times: Wednesday and Saturday morning
Marché Saxe-Breteuil Ave de Saxe, Invalides & Eiffel Tower; Métro: Ségur; opening times: Thursday and Saturday morning
Parc George Brassens Rue de Morillons, Montparnasse; Métro: Convention; opening times: 9am-6pm Saturday and Sunday
Port de Vanves Ave Georges-Lafenestre & Ave Marc-Sangnier; Métro: Porte de Vanves; opening times: 8am–7pm Saturday and Sunday