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

In Season: Oysters

lemon butter Oysters are most celebrated during the festive season in France, when Christmas and New Years Eve dinner spreads are accented by all sorts of shellfish, with oysters playing a starring role.

As the holiday season goes dormant, it seems a shame that the eating of oysters should do the same. With a season that lasts from September/October all the way to April, these briny bivalves can be enjoyed throughout the colder months.

en vrac

In France oysters are eaten as naturally as they come, served with bread and butter and a slice of fresh lemon and accompanied with a glass of chilled white wine.

A Chablis from Burgundy or Muscadet from the Loire are the most common companions to oysters- but bubbles or, as any brazen American in Paris can attest, a pint of beer are also excellent additions to an oyster feast.

This year, Paris by Mouth published an excellent primer on oysters in Paris which includes a ton of information on not only where to find oysters in the capitol, but also how to choose and enjoy them, including a guide to understanding oyster vocab and classification.

sunshine early season

I was brave enough to shuck a few of my own oysters for our Christmas Eve dinner. Convinced the cost of admission into the world of oyster shucking was a mandatory trip to the ER or the loss of a digit, I approached the act with uncertainty.

Luckily, no blood was shed and I found my hand-shucked oysters tasted better than any I had eaten before. Having said that- oyster shells are some of nature's most well-designed lock boxes, designed to protect their precious cargo and determined to stay firmly shut.

Finding the sweet spot and prying open an oyster can be a trying task, and dangerous as well. Check out this amazing chain link glove worn by the most prudent shuckers.

shucked

If you're going to attempt oyster opening yourself, be sure to have a dishtowel and proper shucker, as well as an initiated individual who can oversee your early attempts.

Oysters are an acquired taste, and if a slice of lemon isn't enough to distract you from their slippery consistency, you may want to add an additional condiment to your arsenal.

This classic mignonette sauce recipe presents the sauce at its most basic. You can find all kinds of variations, but this simple mixture of vinegar and shallots will take the edge off early oyster adventures!

with sauce

Sauce Mignonette

For 12 oysters:

2 medium shallots

1/4 cup vinegar (white, red wine, or rice)

Pinch of unrefined cane sugar

Pinch of salt

Coarsely chop shallots. Whisk together vinegar, salt, and sugar, in a small bowl. Mix in shallots. Adjust salt and sugar to taste. Serve with a spoon and ladle a small amount onto each oyster before eating.

In Season: Brussels Sprouts with guest illustrations by Jessie Kanelos Weiner

I'm very pleased to feature Jessie Kanelos Weiner's beautiful illustrations in this week's In Season. Jessie's blog, thefrancofly.com is an illustrated journal of her French adventures in her adopted home. The blog is a series of visual and culinary delights that document Jessie's daily life, her experiences as an illustrator and food stylist, and the beauty and charm that Paris has to offer. Illustration by Jessie Kanelos Weiner, thefrancofly.com

What I particularly love about Jessie's illustrations is the way she captures the beauty of a simple market scene or seasonal vegetable. I'm honored that Jessie was kind enough to share a sampling of her lovely tributes to simple, seasonal produce with us this month. If you love Jessie's work as much as I do and want to see more, be sure to become a fan of thefrancofly.com on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and visit her Pinterest page.

Illustration by Jessie Kanelos Weiner, thefrancofly.com

This week, Americans celebrated Thanksgiving and American expats in Paris didn't miss a beat, declaring a day of thanks whenever it would fit in to their holiday-free French week. Celebrations were held on the weekends before and after as well as throughout the week- extended this cherished holiday over a prolonged period of food-filled time.

I participated in two Thanksgiving dinners- a festive gathering of 30 plus people and then a more intimate dinner with friends. For both, I volunteered to make brussels sprouts, because they are the best vegetable.

Illustration by Jessie Kanelos Weiner, thefrancofly.com

Okay, maybe there's no sense in getting superlative about vegetables, and one thing I love about writing this blog is seeing how excited readers get about different vegetables at the markets (Can I see a show of hands, Leek Geeks?), but brussels sprouts are truly among my favorite vegetables and, given their reception at holiday tables, it seems I'm not alone.

This simple recipe embraces the brussels sprout's flavor paired with roasted walnuts and adds a touch of Thanksgiving with the addition of dried cranberries, which I found at my local coop.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Dried Cranberries

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Dried Cranberries

3 cups brussels sprouts, washed and halved

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 tbsps olive oil

Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Set oven to broil and heat to 350° F (200°C)
  2. Arrange brussels sprouts and walnuts in a baking dish. Cover and brush with olive oil and add a dash of salt and pepper. Place on top rack of the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
  3. Add dried cranberries and roast another 5-10 minutes, until brussels sprouts are golden and the outer leaves are slightly crispy.
  4. Serve hot, as a side dish or as a main with couscous.