This past week I was lucky to have my own personal guide to take me on a tour of her local market. Mary, a media consultant for Social Media Delivered and all all-around awesome lady met up with me at Marché Ornano in the 18th arrondissement, where she introduced me to the local farmers.
Marché Ornano is a large and bustling event, resembling other sprawling boulevard markets such as Marché Belleville or the Marché Ney. Similar to these markets, Marché Ornano is packed with vendors selling specialty products from afar (portugeuse pastries and cheeses, herbs for making traditonal North African meals) but distinguishes itself by additionally offering vegetables grown on farms in the Ile-de-France region.
The result is a lively and thriving market that reflects the surrounding community. Open three days a week, the Marché Ornano occurs frequently enough that you could count on it as your sole source of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices.
I love visiting markets like Marché Ornano, which so clearly play a role in the life of the neighborhood. A throwback to the days before the supermarchés, this market allows you to experience the market as a vital community resource.
Most importantly, unlike the ersatz "farmers" markets we see too often in Paris, Marché Ornano actually counts farmers among its vendors. Two producteurs from the Ile-de-France set up stands three times a week at Marché Orano where they sell seasonal fruits and vegetables to lines of eager shoppers.
The first vendor we visited has a farm in the Val d'Oise, which is located 34 km (21 miles) from Paris. Here swiss chard, celery root, turnips, and parsnips from their own production are complemented by produce from partnering producers from around France and Europe.
By extending the seasons a little longer by selling produce from Southern France, Italy, and Spain, this vendor manages to remain competitive in the current marketplace where autumn avocados and winter raspberries are unsettlingly abundant.
On the other end of the market, Jean-Michel Delahaye, whose farm is in Cergy-Pontoise (34km/21miles from Paris), sells exclusively his own farm-grown produce. The overflowing bins at his stand include an impressive amount of rarities in late winter such as bright orange potimarron and gorgeous honey-hued butternut squash.
Jean-Michel is full of advice on how to prepare his produce and even had some surprising suggestions for us- like putting a pescatarian spin on the classic French endive & ham combo by wrapping the endives in smoked salmon before covering with bechamel sauce and baking.
Stop by Jean-Michel's stand for your pick of seasonal standards with a few exciting, uncommon options mixed in- like dandelion greens and a selection of hearty winter lettuce varieties.
Even if this corner of the 18th isn't your neighborhood, I recommend adopting it for a day in order to experience the energy of this authentic French market & its farm fresh produce.
Boulevard Ornano (between rue Mont Cenis & Ordener), 75018
m° Simplon (line 4)
Open Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday 8h-13h