Top 5 Markets to Pick up a Bottle for your Paris Picnic (with list of nearby picnic parks!)

bottles Picnic season is upon us and now that the sun is shining we want to get straight to the closest bit of grass or park bench that we can find. During this season, normally modest Parisians have no problem baring their skin and stripping down at the first site of sun, which makes for a whole different kind of people watching during the warmer months. Rolled up sleeves, exposed midriffs, pants secured well above calf level- it's a veritable flesh fest and anyone who has lived a calendar year in Paris knows why- in this beautiful, grey city, there is nothing as precious as a ray of sun.

It goes without saying that during these sunny days you have no time to waste between picking up your crudités and finding a decent bottle of rosé or bière blanche. Thankfully there's your friendly neighborhood market, of which a handful offer not only a selection of fruits and vegetables, but also bottles of picnic-appropriate booze.

Armed with a trusty corkscrew and these five addresses, your picnic season is guaranteed to be a success!

Heirloom vegetables at Joël Thiébault's stand at Marché Président Wilson

Marché Président Wilson: Not only is this market home to two local farmers (including superstar producteur Joël Thiébault) here you can also find a stand selling a selection of wines, some are even natural/organic! Pair your rosé with some of Thiébault's heirloom carrots and radish varieties and you'll go down in picnic history.

Le Parc: Trocadéro Gardens- you're already this close to La Tour Eiffel you might as well just soak it in. Head to the bit of greenery on opposite bank of the besieged monument, where you're close enough for an excellent view, but far enough from the mob to (hopefully) not have your cellphone or wallet stolen.

Wines at Marché Bourse

Marché Bourse: This is a handy market if you're prone to get a late start. One of the few markets that are open late, Marché Bourse is great for hot food (it's a favorite lunch spot for people who work in the neighborhood) and organic wine. Don't get your hopes up for fresh produce at this farmer-free market, but you're guaranteed to find a bottle that will suit your picnic needs and a hot lunch to go with.

Le Parc: A bit of a trek, but worth the trip, Tuileries Garden is a perfect spot for a picnic. Pull up a chair near one of the fabulous fountains or find a more intimate spot in the statue-filled gardens.

en vrac

Marché La Chapelle: Marché La Chapelle, or "Marché de l'Olive" as locals call it, is the former home of the now brick and mortar En Vrac which has moved just down the street, onto the place that extends the reach of this popular neighborhood market. Here you can fill up a reusable bottle of wine (added benefit: no need for a corkscrew!) or buy a more traditional bottle. All wines are natural and exceptional.

Le Parc: Grab a bike and take a quick ride to the Parc de la Villette, whose huge expanses of grass are host to a variety of happenings during the spring and summer months, including outdoor concerts, open-air cinema, and other cultural events.

marché st quentin

Marché St. Quentin: This covered market, which is open both mornings and into the late afternoon, has everything you need for an ethnically diverse picnic, with the Italian deli counter and Portuguese specialty stand standing out as particularly interesting self-catering options. The market is also home to Bierissime a cave à bière stocked with domestic and international craft beer.

Le Parc: Formerly a part of a convent and hospital, the Jardin Villemin is now a public space located next to canal St. Martin. The garden contains a shared community garden as well as a diverse collection of tree and plant varieties- an oasis of nature amidst the train stations and street traffic of this busy quartier.

Jardin Villemin, 75010

Marché Baudoyer: On Wednesdays Marché Baudoyer stays open until dusk, leaving you plenty of time to visit central Paris and then pick up picnic provisions before the sun sets. Home to one wine vendor, who has a selection of natural wines, the market also serves portions of paella, crêpes, and other street food that will pull together your picnic.

Le Parc:  It's not technically a park- but you can't be this close to the Seine without having a picnic on its banks! Head to the closest quai or make your way to the Ile St. Louis and join the satisfied sunbathers as they enjoy a hard-earned spring.

Marché Baudoyer

Five Otherworldly Autumn Vegetables

Fairytale Pumpkins and Purple Cauliflower Maybe it's because I just got back from a visit to Iceland, a country where over half the population believes in the existence of elves. A week-long stay there is enough to make you believe in things equally as magical; like the possibility of world peace, houses and water heated with geothermal energy, and a music festival where no one, not even once, spills beer on you.

Leaving behind the seemingly extraterrestrial (or "emotional") landscapes of Iceland for the reality Paris, I got back to my market routine and realized that a lot of our autumn veggies are pretty otherworldly themselves. Here are my top picks for out-of-this-world autumn produce:

Romanesco Broccoli (chou romanesco) at Marché Bastille

Romanesco Broccoli 

I once heard someone refer to this broccoli variety as "alien broccoli". Apparently this appellation was helpful in getting kids interested in eating their veggies, but the psychedelic spirals and odd points and craters of this bright green buddy of broccoli and cauliflower are arguably enough to grab anyone's attention.

What to do with it: Pretty much anything, you can steam, stir fry, or bake romanesco broccoli (it's great in a gratin), but my favorite way to eat it is lightly coated with olive oil and slow roasted in an oven until slightly brown and crispy on the outside.

Persimmons at Marché Batignolles

Persimmons

These cold-weather fruits come as a surprise every time, their glowing orange skin so striking in autumnal market scenes. The fact that I pretty much only see them at markets- and not, for example, in restaurants, served at dinner parties, etc.-has always made these orange orbs a bit of a mystery to me. The possibility of something so bright in a season so grey imbues persimmons with an almost mythic aura.

What to do with them: If you're not going to eat them raw, it seems like all other persimmon applications begin with a simple purée. Use your persimmon purée as a compliment to yogurt or put atop your toast. The purée can also be used as a base for baking projects, such as persimmon bread or persimmon cookies.

Kohlrabi (chou rave) at Marché Jourdan

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi may be pretty common at the market, but that doesn't make the bright purple variety any more mundane. Standing out from other members of the root family, Kohlrabi keeps it's most exciting goods underground. It's striated purple and white striped bulb, with tentacle-like roots make this creature of the deep one of the most foreign looking standards of the season.

What to do with it: Kohlrabi is mostly eaten raw, but it needs to be dressed up a bit. I add it to a simple salad of apples and fennel, generously tossed with a walnut vinegar vinaigrette.

Fairytale Pumpkin at Marché Daumesnil

Fairytale Pumpkins

These seasonal squash transport you to 12:01 a.m. in Cinderella's backyard. Among the largest pumpkin varieties that you'll see in Paris markets, they often occupy a place of honor at the farmer's stand, inspiring awe and imagination. However, this doesn't mean that these whimsically named potirons are just for looking at- your local farmer will be more than happy to cut off a slice of fairytale for you.

What to do with them: After talking with a lot of farmers about the various autumn and winter squash, it seems that the general rule is to use smaller gourds for mashes, purées, etc. and save the bigger varieties for soup. Fairytale pumpkins are therefore a great soup candidate, and mix well with some nutmeg or even a little curry seasoning.

Cardoons at Marché Ornano

Cardoons

Cardoons look like celery from the Jurassic era, or is it just me? Their frosty green skin and fans of soft leaves seem odd, as if belonging to another time. However, these may just be another example of a vegetable that the French left behind. Other cultural cuisines embrace the cardoon. Italians serve it seasonally and North Africans incorporate it in tagines. In France our hair tends to bristle at the site of these unfamiliar thistles, which end up sitting unloved and ignored at the back of the farmers stand.

What to do with them: Cardoons are quite good, it turns out. As I was lucky enough to discover when doing a cardoon challenge with my adventurous epicurean friend Emma. We tried cardoons three ways- in a risotto, sautéed with seasonal vegetables, and in a simple gratin. Though all three plates were delicious, we agreed that the Cardoon Gratin came out ahead.

Here is the recipe Emma used to make the gratin- it's important to boil your cardoon in the lemon water, or else it will lose it's color.

Cardoon Gratin

Cardoon Gratin

Ingredients:

2 cups of chopped cardoons (if the skin is tough, peel it off- like you would a rhubarb)

3 medium eggs

2 tbsps butter

1 tbsp flour

1 cup milk

1/2 cup grated Emmenthal

Steps:

1. Boil the cardoons until they're half cooked in lightly salted, lemon water, drain them, and sauté them in half the butter. Salt them, and when they have absorbed the butter, sprinkle some of the milk over them and simmer them until done.

2. Using the remaining butter, the flour and milk, make a béchamel sauce. Beat in the eggs. Add the cooked cardoons and check seasoning.

3. Transfer the mixture into a buttered dish (approximately 2 inches deep). Bake the sformato at 150 C/375° F for 25-30 minutes or until done.

Serve hot, accompanied by a green salad. Emma suggests pairing with a a full fruity white wine, such as a Vernaccia di San Gimignano or a Vermentino.

 

Top 5 Markets That Fit Your Work Schedule

saxe breteuil With over 80 open-air food markets taking place 6 days a week across the city, Paris provides its inhabitants with impressive access to markets where, if you're lucky, you will find fresh, local, and seasonal produce.

But if you, like the majority of the city's residents, happen to have a job with working hours that take up most of your day, morning markets are simply not an option. While a large percentage of Paris markets keep the standard 7h-14h30 hours, there are a few options for Parisians who work 9 to 5.

If you're interested in getting fresh artisanal ingredients on your hours off, here are a few markets that will fit into your work schedule:

marché convention

Afternoon Markets: 

In order to meet the needs of shoppers and their work schedule, the city of Paris has created six marchés d'après-midi, or afternoon markets, which are open during the week and set up shop later in the afternoon and stay open well until the evening. 

While these markets are not likely to have local producers on site (they are usually working on the farm at this time of the day), they can be good spots to pick up organic produce and other artisanal or natural ingredients.

Marché Anvers (Fridays 15h-20h30) is a great place to pick up organic fruits and vegetables. Be sure to visit the chèvre man a put together a selection of his delicious artisanal cheeses.

Back Camera

Covered Markets: 

I've always thought that Paris' covered markets are some of the most underdeveloped and neglected markets of the city. These beautiful structures are often left only partially inhabited and stocked with industrial produce.

However, there are treasures to be found in these indoor markets, which are open throughout the afternoon and into the early evening, making them a great spot to do some shopping during your lunch hour or on your way home from work.

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges (Tues-Sat.; 8h30-19h30) is one of my favorite spots to grab lunch, the aisles lined with food counters provide ample options for a midday meal and the organic vendors are an easy option for fruits and veggies. Marché Couvert St. Martin (Tues-Sat; 9h-20h) has a selection of organic items, GMO-free meats, and artisanal beers, along with a selection of ingredient-focused restaurants.

Au val coutant Batignolles

Organic Markets: 

The city's three organic markets all take place on the weekends, making them an ideal option for a leisurely day off at the market. Here all the produce is certified organic and some of the best quality you will find in the city.

Take advantage of having access to farm-fresh produce and visit local producers at either Marché biologique des Batignolles (Sat. 7h-14h30) of Marché biologique Raspail (Sun. 7h-14h30).

Marché Alésia

Weekend Markets: 

Many neighborhood markets that are open during the week also set up during the weekend. While locals flock to the market on Saturday and Sunday mornings, it's worth braving the crowds and seeing your quartier come alive as neighbors and familiar faces line up to do their weekly shopping.

Some of my favorite neighborhood markets include Marché Ornano (Sun. 7h-14h30), Marché Saxe-Breteuil (Sat. 7h-14h30), and Marché Place des Fêtes (Sun. 7h-14h30).

march cent quatre

New Wave of Paris Markets:

The new generation of Paris markets are not sponsored by the city itself, but rather organized through community groups or associations cooperating with the farmers themselves. The result is an exciting network of markets that adapt to the busy life of the urbanite.

Associations like AMAP and La Ruche Qui Dit Oui arrange for local points of collection that are often in the evenings during the week- providing the market experience without infringing on office hours.

Other markets, such as Marché Sur L'Eau and Marché Bio du Cent Quatre have fixed locations, but are scheduled to work with your working schedule.