As I began to wander around the market in what early morning sunlight managed to break through foreboding January clouds, the revellers on their way home from the area's many bars reminded me of former nuits blanches and the fact that I don't spend too much time on this side of the sunrise.*
*Editor's note: I'm totally exagerrating, it was like 9h30 when I got to the market- but to justify my crankiness I had been up since 7 a.m, making the whole day feel like it was way too early for anything to be happening. I am not a morning person.
My uncharacteristic Early-Birdishness was rewarded when I finally got through the stands of tacky clothing and bulk deoderant and shampoo vendors (which are way too-often a part of the market and have no business being in Paris where you can buy clothes and toiletries in a great many locations) and reached the seemingly endless booths overflowing with produce and other foodstuffs.
I did my habitual tour, happy to be back in a marché after the holidays had taken over so much time that I hadn't set foot in an outdoor market almost since my last Marché du Mois adventure.
The Marché Bastille is not lacking in choices, yet it isn't immediately impressive as far as local and ethically produced items go.
Having said that, I would hazard a guess that you can find at least one local and/or organic vendor for any item you may be looking for. It seems to me that a succesful shopping trip at the Bastille market would involve finding, and patronizing, these diamonds in the ruffage.
I was laden down by a bursting dossier of originals + 3 copies of every bit of paperwork relating to my lie that I could find in order to calm les bureaucrates, so wasn't really in the market for marketing, but I managed to take some photos of vendors that I will visit on my next early morning adventure to Marché Bastille.
I hope they will help readers find spot these vendors if they have the chance to go to this market. Frequent visitors of Marché Bastille are also encouraged to share their bonnes adresses!
As far as veggies go, I saw some stands that were very loud and proud of their organic status, waving their Agriculture Biologique flags in the Winter wind, but honestly I'm kind of sick of seeing these organic vendors selling totally inappropriate tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchinis in the middle of January. If you're dying to break from the season, then I would encourage doing it organically, but I'm not really interested in the possibility of eating an imported tomato when the bounty of the colder months is really quite rich.
That's why this little, unassuming (they didn't even have a sign up of where their farm was located as far as I could see) maraîcher stole my heart. Amid the foreign fruits and flashy vegetables, this vendor clung to agricultural tradition like the dirt on their own vegetables. So reassuring to see on so many levels.
How can anyone ignore the awesomeness of Winter produce? Carrots, brussel sprouts, black radish, spinach, turnips, leeks, the list goes on... I guess you've got to eat it to believe it, and this little vendor would be a good gateway drug to get you going...
Ever since moving to France, my holiday traditions have increasingly included oysters- it's gotten to be kind of an obsession, a pleasure that almost eclipses all the other joys of the season. My fervor for fruits de mer was dampened when my belle mère called me in a panic one day to tell me that she had seen a documentary on Arte which explained that the large majority of oysters are in fact genetically modified. The damage had been done as I had already eaten my fill of oysters from what now seemed to be surely questionable sources, but I vowed that in the future I'd try my best to find sustainable sources of organic oysters.
Enter my new favorite Poissonière at Marché Bastille. Forget pech à la ligne, these guys go after their oysters using the "Pêche à Pied" method, which means they roll up their fisherman pants and wade into the muck looking for wild oysters to bring to the market. I've read up a little on la pêche à pied and it's pretty great (if you don't mind getting dirty). Regulations on the size of the shellfish, as well as the times you can fish and the amount you can take home protect wild shellfish from being over-fished or put in any danger of extinction.
I didn't grab the name of this fishmonger (bad blogger!!) but you will recognize the family's stand because it's the only one that proudly states that they are botht the direct producteur and distributeur of their seafood.
Marché Bastille also has a large selection of bakeries selling specialty breads and butchers that probably count in their company at leqst one local producer (you're on your own for finding that diamond in the rough), but one thing that stood out to me- probably because I haven't seen it in a lot of marchés- was the fresh eggs vendor.
Gathered from free-range animals, this vendor doesn't stop at your run-of-the-mill chicken eggs, but also offers lovely, enormous goose eggs. These eggs looked so perfect in this French market that I wondered why they haven't been incorporated into a national dish of some kind. Also, why have I never tried a goose egg? Also, is there some pun in here about goose eggs that I'm missing?
All in all, the Marché Bastille is a great stop for a shop or a stroll, and I found myself taking just as many pictures of my surroundings as the Japanese tourists who were working the same circuit. The market is, more than anything- and like most things- a treasure hunt, and I hope that you will enjoy exploring it if you have the chance.
Bd. Richard Lenoir 75011
m° Bastille (line 1, 5, and 8)