Chances are, unless you've taken a guided tour of the 6th arrondissement, you probably haven't wandered into Marché couvert St. Germain. A regular stop off point to show tourists what French cheese and charcuterie looks like, this small market is emblematic of most covered marchés in Paris, which is to say farmerless markets with a focus on specialty products.
With the exception of Marché des Enfants Rouges, which occasionally has a local producer selling seasonal produce, the covered markets of Paris are largely outlets for refined products, from cheeses to meats to regional specialties of all kinds.
Certain markets excel at offering a wide variety of quality products- such as the Italian and artisanal counters at Marché couvert Beauvau or the fabulous fish and cheese vendors at Marché couvert de Passy. Others are a bit less exciting, Marché couvert St Martin comes to mind...
The advantage of Paris's covered markets is that they figure amongst some of the few of the city's food markets that fit your work schedule. Which is why, even though I prefer the outdoor markets of Paris with their potential for farmers and fresh produce, I also visit the covered markets from time to time to see if they hold any surprises.
Marché couvert St Germain straddles the line between interesting and industrial. The organic shop is very proud of itself, but mostly sells pre-packaged gluten-free crackers and a few rather sad looking vegetables. Another disappointment is the choice of hot lunch options, including a Thai takeaway counter and several small restaurants that line the perimeter of the market, which do little to inspire one's appetite. In this regard, Marché St Germain would do well to follow the example of Marché des Enfants Rouges.
The most interesting aspect of the market is, as it happens, exactly what flocks of guided tourists gather around when entering the market: the cheese counters with a wide variety of fromage from around the country and other Franco-centric specialty shops.
Les Jardins du J'GO sell a large variety of preserved items, including homemade jams, soups, sauces, and dried goods. The "meat market" may have been pandering to these very tourists, but their selection of French origin meat looked legit and was presented with care and professionalism.
If you happen to be guiding a tour through the 6th arrondissement, or in need of some last minute cheese for a picnic, pop into Marché couvert St Germain. Otherwise I suggest you wait for the neighborhood to celebrate the weekly apparition of Marché bio de Raspail to do your market shopping.
Marché couvert St Germain
4/6 rue Lobineau, 75006
m° Mabillon (line 10)
Open: Tues-Sat 8-20h, Sun 8-13h30