You never know what you're going to find when you go to a market. The most exciting times can be when you find something you didn't know you were looking for- a new-to-you vegetable, a farm-fresh recipe, or even a new neighborhood.
For me, the most exciting part of visiting a new market is finding exactly what I'm looking for: local farmers.
I could easily write many months worth of Marché du Mois based on Paris markets that have no independent producers whatsoever. Many of the city's open-air markets count zero farmers among their stands. The list includes markets such as Marché Bourse, Marché Jean Jaurès, and the majority of the city's covered markets (Marché Couvert St. Martin, Marché Couvert de Passy and Marché La Chapelle to name a few).
In my quest, I've at times encountered markets that aren't even markets anymore such as Marché Couvert Treilhard in the 8th arrondissement which is occupied by the chain grocery store G20 and Marché Couvert St. Quentin in the 10th which is now essentially one big flower shop (incidentally, why have so many of the covered markets been left to industrial goods or general disrepair? I hope to see more places like My Kitch'n bringing new life to these poorly used venues).
In my ideal world, every market would be a farmers market with every stand stocked with locally grown and raised products indicative of the season and the region. But since that sadly is far from the reality in Paris, I'm happy to find a producer or two as I tour the markets. At markets like Marché Alésia and Marché Port-Royal you will only find one local producer, but at least that's a start.
Marché Jeanne d'Arc is another one of these one farmer markets that I discovered recently. In the shadow of the towering church on place Jeanne d'Arc in the 13th arrondissement you will find an Ile-de-France feast of vegetables from local producer Jean-François Dondaine.
M. Dondaine also sets up shop on Saturdays at the Marché Saxe-Breteuil but at this smaller neighborhood market his vegetables stand out as exceptional as they are the only locally grown produce to be had.
A steady line forms in front of chez Dondaine where springtime shoppers peruse the season's first zucchini along with baskets of spring onions, carrots, rhubarb and fresh garlic- all grown less than 20 miles south of Paris.
Take advantage of the selection of fresh lettuce and herbs and don't hesitate to ask for suggestions on how to perfectly prepare a handful of snap peas- as always the friendly and resourceful vendors at these farm stands are just as inspiring to encounter as their freshly picked produce.
Marché Jeanne d'Arc
place Jeanne d'Arc, 75013
m° Nationale (line 6)
Open Thursdays and Sundays, 7-14h30