Marché du Mois: Marché Berthier

Shoppers at Marché Berthier, 75017

Shoppers at Marché Berthier, 75017

In the years since I launched Paris Paysanne, I've visited over 50 of Paris' 80 + open air food markets. My visits have brought me to new neighborhoods and lead to great discoveries, especially when I find what I'm always on the lookout for: farm fresh locally grown produce

I've covered a lot of city ground while adding to my growing map of farmers at Paris markets and now, in order to continue my quest, I'm often brought to the outskirts of town and areas that very few people visit

Tasting fresh herbs at the market

Tasting fresh herbs at the market

This was the case for this month's marché, which is located on the extremity of the 17th arrondissement. The trip to the market was lengthy, and included a lovely bike ride and a few less lovely wrong turns, but I finally made it before the market closed. 

While this part of town is largely unfamiliar to me, I felt right at home when we got to the market and heard the ubiquitous shouts of market vendors and the customary crush of Parisian crowds

Luckily I wasn't alone in weaving my way under the awnings of cramped market aisles packed with shopping caddies and two-way traffic. My gracious volunteer photographer and vegetable scout was the amazing human being and awesome musician Ben Nerot. I was in good company. 

Wandering the market looking for inspiration for that night's dinner, we chatted with the many friendly vendors while looking at fresh fish, homemade breads, and a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Herbs overflow at Marché Berthier, where one vendor let me sniff and taste his assortment of fresh herbs including absinthe, dill, chives, basil, and a large selection of mint varieties. 

Périgny-sur-Yerres based farmers Maison Lenoble have a stand at Marché Berthier (as well as Marché Point du Jour (75016) and Marché Convention (75015). Here you will find smiling faces and seasonal produce, with this time of year bringing the end of winter squash and a few spring surprises, such as cucumbers and young greens

Beets at Maison Lenoble's stand, Marché Berthier 75017

Beets at Maison Lenoble's stand, Marché Berthier 75017

Marché Berthier also has an organic stand, where you will find mostly imported products- almonds from California, for example- and a knowledgeable vendor who will pick out the ripest avocados and offer you a deal on blueberries if he's feeling generous. 

It's been awhile since I've discovered a new market, frequenting my neighborhood marchés such as Marché Ornano and Marché Bio des Batignolles rather than venturing far from home. Today proved that Paris markets are so much more than a source of food- they're a great excuse for a bike ride on a sunny day, they're a way to see the city in an unexpected way, and they're a reminder that all around the world we're pretty much the same- eager explorers who are wondering what's for dinner

Marché Berthier

Boulevard de Reims, 75017 m°Pereire-Levallois (line 3)

Open: Wednesday and Saturday 7-14h30

Marché du Mois: Marché Ordener

My parents were in town this week so as any daughter or son knows, the occasion presented a great opportunity to make reservations at some of the restaurants that I wouldn't usually take myself to (thanks Mom and Dad!). After a few days of culinary delights which included a seemingly endless course tasting menu at La Table d'Eugène and all the modern conveniences (and fun wine list) of Coretta, I felt like I had caught up with fine dining food trends and was happy to get back to the more modest markets of the city.

I love eating out, but there are only so many emulsions and exotic Asian radish varieties that I can take before I want to be back in my kitchen with pumpkins and fennel and other exciting whole foods of the season.

A trip to Marché Ordener was exactly what I needed. Home to two local farmers, Guy Barrais and Patrick Messant (who you can also find at Marché Place des Fêtes), this friendly neighborhood market takes up the even-numbered side of rue Ordener on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Because the French generally know what's up, the two farmers' market stands are among the busiest at the marché, with lines made up of customers of discriminating taste and reassuring affability. While waiting to buy beets and shell beans at the Messant's markets stand, a friendly Monsieur decided to school me on the proper way to eat choux rave, or kohlrabi.

"Eat it like an apple!" he announced, paying €1.45 for the produce and then making a pocket knife magically appear from his...pocket. The demonstration continued with a brazen incision into the kohlrabi's thick skin as he peeled away the rough outer layer. "Here, try it", he encouraged, offering me a slice. Surprisingly sweet, with hints of green melon, choux rave turned out to be a delightful crudité that I'm surprised to not see more often in salads or next to an emulsion of something at the city's finest tables.

Engaged Instagram followers weighed in with preparation suggestions for this unexpected star of the season. Apparently the Germans are way into this root veg and the French go as far as to get it into a gratin. Any other suggestions for kohlrabi would be highly appreciated, as I think I'll be seeing a lot of it from now on.

I ended my market visit with a last stop for pears at the Barrais' stand and an after-thought artichoke because while I can't whip up most of the things served to me and Mom and Dad, I can handle a homemade mayonnaise and love nothing more than the gratifying reward of an artichoke heart.

Marché Ordener

rue Ordener m° Jules Joffrin (line 12)

open: Wednesday and Saturday 8-13h

Marché du Mois: Marché d'Aligre

Market baskets on sale at La Graineterie du Marché

Market baskets on sale at La Graineterie du Marché

The Marché d'Aligre is a favorite among Parisians, so much so that it has almost a cult following of loyal shoppers. Despite its renown and reputation, I never really got what it was that charmed people so much about this market. 

Since I judge markets mainly on the amount of farmers present- of which Marché d'Aligre has none-it seems normal that this market never made it into my list of favorites. Still, with so many friends and food writers singing the praises of this celebrated market in the 12th arrondissement, I couldn't help but think that I was missing out on something.

Wild Asparagus on sale at Marché d'Aligre

Wild Asparagus on sale at Marché d'Aligre

Inspired to understand the lure of Marché d'Aligre, I asked my friend Terresa to make me on a tour of the market, which is in her neighborhood and also a spot she knows quite well, often taking students there to stock up for the vegetarian cooking classes she gives in her home.

Teresa graciously accepted to be my guide, and we started our visits with warm croissants devoured on the doorstep of the covered market. These delicious croissants from a nearby bakery were to be the first of many snacks involved in our grazing tour of both the covered and open air market, along with the lovely shops lining the Place d'Aligre.

Lemon bars at Jojo & co

Lemon bars at Jojo & co

Once inside the Marché Couvert Beauvau we were offered spoonfuls of olive oil at the organic and artisanal ingredients shop Sur les Quais and then moved on to lemon tarts at the market's newest addition, a charming bakery called Jojo & co.

After chatting with the friendly vendor at the specialty Italian stand, it occurred to me that the success of a market isn't necessarily based on the sum of its producers, but also depends on the commitment of vendors to curating quality products.

We then wandered the outdoor market which vies for space with an all-day, everyday, flea market on the square. Terresa agreed that not much of the produce here is worth buying- although there is one vendor that she trusts- Gilles Flahaut, who brings excellent seasonal produce, mostly from France, to the market.

Mini Poivrons at Gilles Flahaut's stand

Mini Poivrons at Gilles Flahaut's stand

And then we came to my new favorite Paris shop- La Graineterie du Marché (8 place Aligre). This tiny shop is lined with bin upon bin of dried grains, beans, flours and fruit. Bulk herbs and spices complete this cabinet of curiosities, where hard-to-locate fèves and farines find a home.

In addition to the exciting food selection, La Graineterie also sells a wide range of products for the home. From practical accessories- sponges, soaps, and dishtowels- to unique finds such as vintage cookware and eclectic collections of flatware to handy - and handcrafted- market baskets and bags.

Stores like La Graineterie, kept by friendly shop owners who offer a unique service to the community, are reasons why Parisians get so attached to their neighborhoods. I could imagine the simple joy that would be coming home from work on a cold winter day and popping into La Graineterie du Marché for a handful of dried peaches- just the right out-of-season treat to warm you up and encourage you to get through those dark, dreary Paris nights.

La Graineterie du Marché, 8 place Aligre 75012

La Graineterie du Marché, 8 place Aligre 75012

More stops to nearby shops further confirmed the charm of the Marché d'Aligre neighborhood. We enjoyed a pastéis de nata and bought amazing olive oil at the Portuguese specialty shop Ma Petite Epicerie  (18 rue d'Aligre) which was followed by an impassioned cheese chat at the fromagerie L'Alpage (15 rue d'Aligre). We couldn't help but stop at Les Chocolats d'Aligre (13 rue d'Aligre) which is stocked with chocolates made by some of the most celebrated chocolatiers in France.

Selection of artisanal cheeses at L'Alpage, 15 rue d'Aligre 75012

Selection of artisanal cheeses at L'Alpage, 15 rue d'Aligre 75012

After our market visit, while enjoying glasses of natural wine at Le Siffleur des Ballons, I thought about me and Terresa's gourmet day and how happy a great Paris neighborhood makes me.

Something about neighbors working and shopping together, taking time to share their passions for their country's greatest products, or specialty ingredients assembled as a means of sharing culture- this is what makes markets the precious gems of a community.

Happy and well-fed, I felt satisfied in finally understanding what makes the Marché d'Aligre so special.

Marché d'Aligre

Place d'Aligre, 75012

m° Ledru Rollin (line 8)

Open: Tues-Sun 7:30-2:30 pm