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fish radishes

Every once in a while there are contests in Paris to decide who makes the best croissant, a hot new restaurant list get published somewhere, or a market way on the other side of Paris that supposedly has great onions grown in the same soil where Louis the XIV once took a squat, becomes a “must visit”. It’s pretty encouraging to see and hear about new places, especially when it’s a young baker or chef getting some recognition for maintaining the high-quality of one of France’s emblematic pastries or breads. And often I add the restaurant to my hand-scribbled list in hopes of one day being able to say “I’ve been there!” (The jury is still out on those onions, though.)

strawberries at market

When I moved here years ago, I’d gladly cross the city to find and taste all these things. I remember one day tracking down what was known as the best croissant in Paris, as mentioned in an issue of The Art of Eating. At the urging of a visiting friend, we trekked out to some distant bakery in the far-away fourteenth arrondissement, only to find the baker closing up shop for his mid-day break. There seems to be a corollary around here: The longer you have to travel to get somewhere, the more likely it is to be closed when you get there.

But the longer one lives in Paris, the more one stays in their neighborhood for their daily needs. Personal relationships are very important here and once you get to know the local merchants and vendors at your market, it just feels right to get your baguette from the same corner bakery.

La fidélité has its rewards and the woman at my bakery knows how I like my baguette cooked. If I want a croissant, they’ll go in the back and get one just out of the oven rather than giving me one that’s been sitting in the basket on the counter. And when I get home from shopping at the market, there’s no unpleasant surprises rotting away in the bottom of my bag of peaches.

Tati Pageoline

This week, because of the cloud of volcanic ash that robbed me of my much-needed vacation, and because I gave my apartment to a friend in exchange for her house in the south this summer, I had the enviable task of moving out of my own apartment for a week. (On the plus side, I’m getting to spend time with her, which I don’t get to do when we swap places. And I won’t be complaining this summer when I’m relaxing in Provence over a glass or two of chilled rosé.)

golden limes

So I’m staying with Romain, who lives near Barbès-Rochechouart, which is becoming an experiment in international living, and I’m discovering even more cultural differences. I’ve had to train him not to talk to me until I’ve finished at least half of my coffee in the morning. (Or until after 10 am, whichever comes first.) Plus he needs to get used to the fact that my iPhone is now the most important thing in my life.

Radishes at market chile peppers

Although phones and tranquility in the morning are both important to me (in that order), one must eat. And with the Barbès market just a few steps away, I set out this morning to round up some food. I grabbed my reusable nylon shopping bag, as well as my camera, which Romain warned me away from bringing—but I did anyways.

Barbes Marche olives

The Barbès market is located in what one might call a ‘transitional’ neighborhood, which means a lot of different types of people and ethnicities share the quartier. You’ll find Africans dressed in brightly colored robes, Arabs haggling in their excitable voices, a few French people scoping out bargains, and an occasional American thrown in the mix. The market is a massive crush in places and I often think that if I picked up my legs, the crowd would simply carry my along, from one end to the other. If you don’t like being jostled or having someone push you out of the way, you might want to stick to one of the tonier markets on the Left Bank. Although they still push you out of the way, too. It’s just they use an Hermès tote.

oranges & bananas

Being part Arab, not much fazes me and I’ve learned one word, “تقدم!” which essentially means, “Get outta my way!” One just needs to remember that pushing people out of your path, and running over other people’s feet with your shopping caddie, is a cultural difference. In New York, someone would deck you. Here, c’est normal.

eggs baguette paysanne

Locavores, folks into organic produce, and those looking for specialty foods, wouldn’t do so well at this market. The accent is on value and price, not necessarily quality. Hence thrifty Parisians shop here when they need to stockpile things like avocados, strawberries, and tangerines. Of course, cabbage and root vegetables are in good supply, and this is where I come in the winter to find unusual things like butternut squash, parsnips, and chile peppers.

There are vendors selling fin de series (end of the line) cheeses, sold at prices to get rid of them quickly, and industrial candy bars, which are stacked taller than I am. Today I saw an enormous display of jars of freeze-dried coffee and Cadbury chocolate chip cookies. I didn’t buy either, but there was quite a frenzy around them.

herbs and onions

Part of the fun, depending on your idea of fun, is sorting through everything. Most of the stuff is in good shape. But because of the prices, some of the produce is nearing the end of its usefulness. So you’ll see a few dings and browned tips here and there.

orange t-shirt lemons

In your bag of strawberries, more than one or two will have soft spots, if you’re not paying attention, a few overripe pears will find their way into the bottom of the bag the vendor insists on packing for you. But if you’re one of those people that hates to see food go to waste, who doesn’t mind picking around bumps and bruises, then you’ll find the market as interesting as I do. It’s easy to forget people living on more modest means that us, and markets like this remind us that although it’s nice to be able to enjoy organic strawberries and artisan cheeses, unfortunately not everyone has access to those things. No matter where you live.

household goods

I, for one, always feel lucky to be able to stock up on olives. Like many of the ethnic markets in Paris, they’re always very inexpensive and here they’re sold for just €4 per kilo, about $2 per pound. Because of the halal influence, you won’t find charcuterie or other pork products (I was surprised to see turkey bacon, although it was a processed product), but you will find red-hot, spicy merguez sausages sold by the rope-load, poulet fermier (farm chickens) for half the price you’d see elsewhere, and there’s three excellent fishmongers tempting the shoppers who are lifting and poking the fish to ensure their freshness.

daurade royale

After my experience working with the fish boys, I have lots of respect for these folks. I scoped out everything from tiny, slender barracuda to the meanest looking octopus I ever saw. I settled on a Dorade sauvage, a hefty specimen which they gladly cleaned and gutted for me. The woman dressed in the blue rubber apron also told me how to cook it, as he handed it off to me.

tomatoes Grondin

On way home, overloaded with stuff—and I think I spent less than twenty euros, I passed a rôtisserie with beautifully bronzed chickens lolling on the spit. And lord help me, I couldn’t help bringing one of those home, too. And for those who were following the saga of my crack baguette, some young men have taken over the bakery and are now producing quite decent baguettes and a few other breads.

baguette and tapenade

I still miss my baguette sésame dearly, but the baguette paysanne I bought was quite good. They have a ways to go before they can win the prize of best baguette in Paris, but that’s okay. I’m happy to support them in their efforts; the other places I’m sure aren’t lacking for customers. And that crusty baguette is on the menu today with a container of green olive tapenade that the fellows selling olives gave me a deal on.

strawberries roast chicken

The Barbès market is a lot of fun, and very, very crowded. It’s not the kind of place to go and snap a bunch of pictures: I got scolded a few times for taking pictures of lemons and carrots…I’m still not sure what the big deal is. (Actually, I do. Which I keep meaning to write a post about.) But it’s a lively way to spend a Saturday morning, and with the métro rumbling overhead, the bins of inexpensive housewares to rifle through, and the overflow of plastic bags that I kept refusing, but they insisted I take, I felt like I won a small battle by the time I got back home.

Barbes market

So for the rest of the day, I’ll be spending time steaming the two artichokes I got for a mere 20 centimes each, stuffing the Dorade with a generous handful of fresh herbs, slices of golden lime to tucked in the middle, and some nice spring onions before baking. Afterward I’ll be infusing the bunch of fresh mint I got into a pot of steaming tisane (herb tea), and eating what’s left of the strawberries I started to snack on before I left the market. But first, I’ve got some crispy chicken skin to deal with.

Barbès Market
Métro: Barbès Rochechouart
Wednesday and Saturday Morning, until about 2 pm

Notes: The market is located just under the métro tracks and is across from the giant Tati discount store, which is also worth a visit if you’ve not been. Nearby is the Marché St. Pierre, a fantastic multi-storied fabric store, and Sacré Cœur church lords over the neighborhood as well.

Many of the fish shown don’t correspond to anything commonly-known in the United States. I usually refer to my trusty A-Z Guide to French Food for obscure translation. But since I’m in exile, it’s currently out of my hands.

As mentioned, the market is pretty animated. It’s not dangerous, but if you go, do not keep your wallet in your back pocket, don’t wear flashy jewelry, and leave valuables at home. Taking pictures is tolerated, somewhat, although you will get a lot of looks and is not really recommended unless you’re pretty savvy in dealing with the locals.

And remember, “تقدم!”

Related Posts and Links

List of Paris Markets (

The Truffle Market in Lalbenque

Le Marché de Barbès (La Goutte d’Or, in French)

The Sunday Market

Rue Montorgeuil-Les Halles

Barbès Rochechouart (Wikipedia)

Tuesdays with Dorie


    • Jennifer K

    I live near the Avenue de Saxe market. I keep meaning to visit other ones, but my laziness prevents me. I’m sure the Barbes and Saxe markets are totally different animals.

    I see you’re reading “The Belly of Paris.” They say it’s not one of Zola’s best books, but I really liked it!

    • Abigail @ Sugar Apple

    I guess it’s all a matter of what you’re used to, but the market looks stunning to me. We don’t have anything like that here and I’d be in heaven there. Though our limes are better…small consolation.

    And so sorry about your holiday:( So many people stranded far from home, paying for hotels, not being able to get back to families and jobs.

    • Diane@2stews

    I loved the walk through this market, I can almost hear the sounds, feel the rush of pushes and smell the ripe (and overripe) fruit and veg.

    Sorry about your “volcation.” There are so many stories out there…some good and some not so good. Your rosé will taste all the more delicious this summer as you reflect upon the fallen ash.

    • ChefDylan

    Sounds like the kind of market I have been taken too upon occasion by my Frencdh mother…

    Upon entering the hugely crowded areas, she would take a deep inhalation of breath, steady here gaze, advise us to “sharpen our elbows” and stay close of get left behind!

    It was always great to see her battle to the front of stalls, elbows working away at the ribs of unsuspecting punters, my brothers and I trying to keep up, feeling ever so awkward that we weren’t queuing in the way we brits so love to do.

    Its been too long since I last did it, something I have to remedy soon!


    • Kerrin @ MyKugelhopf

    wow, great post david, i kept sticking out my elbows while reading, felt like i was navigating through the market with you ! ;)

    love that picture of the eggs. can you just imagine the danger of a klutzy person like me around that ?!

    looking forward to the future post on photographing fruit and vegetables, what *is* the big deal after all ?!

    • Kathleen

    Lovely trip to the market, thank you. Would love to see a map in the post. I declined to buy artichokes in my market the other day as they were $4.49 each! What is that about. Enjoy your market treasures!

    • Polly-Vous Francais

    Thanks for a great authentic view of a great authentic market. Fabulous. Seems as though the belly of Paris has moved north to Barbes.

    • David

    Kathleen: There is a map in the post. Just click on the link that says “map” underneath the coordinates and it will take you to it.

    kerrin: I started it a while back…I guess it’s time to finish it!

    Diane: The whole thing was strange. At least I had my own bed to sleep in during the fiasco..At least for a while! : )

    jennifer k: It’s actually really interesting, especially to read about what Paris (and the market) was like back then. I’m loving the book, although they story is a bit hokey.

    Abigail: I didn’t take any pictures of the stuff that didn’t look so hot, but there isn’t all that much of it. It’s just most of the produce is very standard-issue. I still love this market, just for what it is.

    • maria

    loved this post

    fidelite is also very important in greece, which is why i dont wander around the town anymore looking around for what grabs my attention – i go to places i know well now becasue the people who run them know me too

    • Charles

    I love it when I check out a post to see if I’ll be grabbed and the next thing I know I’ve read the whole thing. Thanks for a very pleasant diversion. Made me want to be there.

    • Daydreamer Desserts

    Sounds like you picked a very adventurous way to start your Saturday morning, thank you for walking us through the market I especially loved the boxes of heirloom tomatoes they look so beautiful.

    • Margarita

    That looks like such an exciting place!

    • Kathleen is Cooking in Mexico

    As always, your photos blow me away. You could take pictures of anything, David, and still have my attention. That your photos are food and market themed is icing on the cake.

    I may never get to Paris, but you give me and many others a window through which to peek.Thank you.

    • krysalia

    the greenorangered tomatoes picture is stunning. the light is perfect and those subtile color shades are incredible. Ok i’m tomato addict, and all the other pics are very nice as usual, but I swear I’d love to have a 70x120cm version of this pic to hang on my livingroom wall !

    here in my province we also have pretty good olives for 4€/kilo, but i’m jealous of those 20cts artichokes and all those wonderful vegetables at reasonable prices.

    But what totally cracked me up is the image you used about picking up your legs and the crowd simply carrying you along. hahahahaha :D. I could swear I’d love to frame that one too :D.

    • The French

    I’m not only jealous of the meal you’re preparing yourself, but also of your ability to make it through that market without freaking out. For some reason, a crowded market can propel me into a serious meltdown. I pick up a CSA box loaded with local veggies at someone’s house to avoid being overwhelmed. Lame, right? Maybe I need to go to this market, the beast of all markets, and force myself to get over it:) Love this post, David.

    • paris (im)perfect

    Fabulous post. And I’m glad you did it so I don’t have to.

    No seriously, I like going up to Barbes and markets like these sometimes, but as you said, it sometimes feels like a battle! Plus, I *do* like local goodies (yes, I’m a bleeding heart environmentalist). When I see things shipped in from Morocco, for example, that I know are growing just a few kilometers away in France, it gives me pause.

    But I love lively Paris and this is certainly one of those places. I picked up my first ‘panier bio’ today so I skipped the market completely. A local farm drops off a selection of organic seasonal fruit and veggies at a place in the neighborhood and you pick it up anytime during the day. Frankly, I think I could get used to it. if anyone is interested.

    Thanks again for the great post!

    • krysalia

    J’y songe, after surviving this market, you are ready for la grande braderie de Lille :)

    • Sharon

    Loyalty pays. After moving to Germany, it took quite a while going regularly to our local outdoor market before I became someone who got the smiles and the freshest strawberries (from behind the stand). Baking banana bread and cranberry bread for Christmas gifts probably didn’t hurt! All my regular vendors remember it because it just isn’t the usual thing here – the bread or the gift!

    Your posts on markets are so special right now – my daughter is coming this summer and if she could convince the rest of us, she’s spend the whole time in Paris visiting the markets!

    • sarah

    After just two weeks back in the US, I miss Barbes market already, having lived a block away for about a year. I made my parents visit with me and bought everything we needed for a 4 person dinner (with the exception of chicken) with just the change I had stashed from the previous week. My favorite part of each excursion — Eating a ‘brique’ on the way home.

    Thanks so much David.

    • Ann

    Loved your photos of the market! And I totally understand about the whole fidélité thing. I live in Toulouse and whenever I try a baguette from another bakery, I feel like I’ve cheated on my baker. There’s a lot to be said for going where they know you and will stop to chitchat while the line piles up behind you. Gotta love being a regular!

    • H.Peter

    J’adore TATI! or something like that

    • Daniel

    Haha! I love this post! Our regular Turkish Market in Berlin is just like this. Because it is only about a block and a half away, we go there Saturdays after 10 but before 2- They don’t put the prices up before 10, and they sort of look at you like “I know I have to be here, but what are you doing here at this hour” if you get there before and start asking the prices. The produce is hit or miss, but the prices beat the grocery store, plus they let you pick your own produce. Over the years we’ve gravitated towards certain vendors for certain things because they are usually consistent with their products.

    The reason we avoid going there after 2 is, as the closing time nears, they are practically giving away flats of strawberries or lemons for an Euro, and you get body-checked by people scrambling for the deals. It is super exhausting and you generally get the last pickings of the vegetables- although you do have 2 kilos of it.

    The two oddities are my potato guy, who probably sells the only locally grown produce in the market (yes!), and the guy selling caged eggs at a price higher than buying organic eggs (no!).

    • Rz

    Love this post! I’ve been to the Barbes market years ago and your every detail brought me back! Thank you for sharing your Saturday morning with us!

    • Amy

    Sounds a lot like the Marché de Midi in Brussels. I love going there because they have a wonderful selection of plants for half the price I’ve seen anywhere else. And there are a lot of interesting North African products to try. I rarely shop for food though because I just get too overwhelmed. It’s HUGE and the crowds of people stress me out. It’s a fascinating place though.

    • Edd

    I just visited this market on wednesday whilst on holiday and was shouted at in Arabic by an older lady when I tried to take a picture looking down the market, but definitely lots of energy and stuff to see but I did find it funny how the busiest stall was the one selling end of line supermarket products (like the cookies you mentioned), I guess people really love a bargain.

    • Jenny

    David — loved this post and your description of the food and the people there — I could just imagine the Africans dressed in brightly colored robes. When are you going to do a video of your shopping trips for the ipad?

    • The Purple Foodie

    David, evertime I see something about places and market sin Paris, I feel like I need to keep adding more days to my itinerary! Thanks for this, I really couldn’t plan my trip without you. Really. :) And those strawberries? I am deeply jealous of the produce that you have access to!

    • Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie)

    One word – Glorious!

    • Susan

    I am glad you are sensitive to, or understanding of, the fact that people go where they can afford to buy fresh goods. At least they are buying fresh foods, right? I know you were sort of a captive in this neighborhood when you needed to shop (as are the regular shoppers) and you took the chance to go, but aren’t these markets interesting? I love the haggling and seriousness of the doing of business at places like this.

    There is a certain excitement to these markets that is different than in more upscale markets. Not that I would love to have to do it all the time, but it is good to know there is something available for everyone’s wallet. Plus, it shows a place like Paris, as not seeming so “French baguette” to speak!

    • susan in ca :)

    looks like so much fun! that baguette is making my mouth water!

    • Will

    Well now it’s going to drive me crazy waiting for you to hit “Publish” on the post about taking photo’s at the markets! In the meantime, I really enjoyed this one. Great photos as always, and I’m with you on Louis the XIV’s onions.

    • Rodger Helwig

    As a photographer and food consultant, I must give you kudos for your pictures accompanying your vivid text. Nicely shot and edited, making food the star. Keep up the great work.

    • seethu

    wow……am an indian out here in paris trying to figure out the french ways as well as language …n u david has been my angel for quite sometime thanks to that ……and the best thing dats ever happend to me here in paris is the discovery of the existence of paris market ..whew! ……i wonder if u have an offer of take-a-mate-to-market? cos i m interested………
    anyways loving ur blog ways …cheers

    • Annice

    Many years ago as a student in Paris, I lived at 29 Barbes-Rochechouart and loved it. Merci mille fois for showcasing that market. One little detail about the boulevard and the area most people don’t know is that many of Emile Zola’s characters grew up on rue de la goutte d’or right down the street.

    • suedoise

    your photos are so marvellous thank you wonderful David.
    I know one must be VERY careful when taking pictures at markets in Paris and I have no idea why. One of my favourite markets for great bargains and quality is the covered hall at the porte de la Villette /at the very end of avenue de Flandres in the 19 th arrondissement/ a paradise profiling the connoisseurs of the large Parisian colony of Portuguese.Heavenly products from Portugal including ham of the finest quality not as advertised nor as expensive as the Spanish equivalent, also great butchers, fishmongers, vegetables, hot wonderful sausages and fine dairy products and cheese plus olives and olives and olive oil typical pastries and bread plus a great assortment of their very good wines´such as the fullbodied red Alentejo,
    Bring your car or take your “chariot” and get on the bus for this culinary shopping bliss, the warm and happy ambiance of its Sunday mornings are for free.

    • FBC!

    Is “تقدم!” what I pronounce “balek!”? (normally you say it twice, “balek, balek!”).
    I miss Barbès. It’s at this market I used to find true bergamots, in the Winter.

    • Hannah

    I actually came across this market accidentally on my first morning in Paris two months ago, but as I was on my way to the Hopital Lariboisiere I couldn’t stop… now I feel even sadder about that!

    • Wendy

    David, your writing has an uncanny ability of putting a smile on my face. Your stories and insight brighten my day. As always, thank you for sharing your knowledge so generously with others. I enjoy reading your posts very much.

    • Le Capitaine

    Fantastic walk through the market! I could smell and hear it as I read.

    • David

    Sharon: Yes, like your banana bread, handing out all those dulce de leche brownies definitely helped!

    Susan: It’s a tough call, especially since I saw how much produce and seafood was spoiling when it was stuck in the airports during the recent ash cloud that canceled air travel in Europe. It kind of showed how dependent folks are on things traveling from far away, and how growing local is a better way to go. But the hard part of the equation is charging enough for the food while paying the people who grow it a decent wage. Most of the people at this market truly don’t have a lot of money and Paris is really, really expensive.

    Jenny: Would love to do more videos for the site, especially for the iPad. (I did get a chance to play with one recently, although I don’t have one.) This market is obviously not go great to making a video at, but I have plenty of ideas. I’m hoping when the fellow who shot my video in Paris comes back, we can do another one. Or two!

    Will: Glad you hear I’m not alone on those onions : )

    • Judith

    Hi David, please write your blog on photography in Paris, I’m curious to hear your thoughts. I learned very quickly that you can take all the photos you like in brocantes and shops so long as you ask first. And if I get a quizzical or suspicious look I just say that it’s for my “souvenirs” of Paris. I’ve never had a problem at a food market and, to be honest, I’ve never asked the vendors before snapping. Interesting intra-France cultural difference: last week I took photos in a covered market in Toulouse and the vendors were so friendly they not only didn’t mind but wanted to be included in the photos.

    • Lina

    thank you for such a refreshing account on something as simple and beautiful as a walk through a lovely market as such.i love the way you craft your post,it makes me feel as if i am actually really there with you!keep writing,don’t you ever stop! :)

    • Another Foodie

    Gawd, I love food markets. The pictures themselves show how lively it is at the market and how fresh the food is.

    • Cindy

    David, thanks for the laugh. I don’t have Twitter but I read yours about the roasted chicken blog. I am 45 and just started cooking for real in Jan. Not sure what you would call what I did before except pitiful. But my poor teenage daughter is sick of roasted chickens. I love making whole chickens and trying different ways of cooking them. When I saw your comment I laughed because my daughter made a comment about starting a blog against roasted chickens. She says ” save the chickens!”. 20 chickens ago she lost the appreciation for a beautifully brown roasted bird!!

    • Tags

    Onions grown in the night soil of the Sun King…

    that’s gotta taste good!

    • Magda

    those strawberries look so good! need to get some, I miss them! ;)

    • Lea

    I want to move into your neighborhood to follow you on your shopping trips. You would take the fear out of the language barrier.

    • RV Goddess

    I loved your photos from this market – and I am so happy you were bold enough to take your camera to capture the shots. THANK YOU! (Sorry about that volcano.)

    • Susan

    David, thanks for commenting to me. I hear you! I wrestle with that thought as well. My only solice is that the open air markets allow both sides of the producer/comsumer equation to decide what they can afford to do. Dealing directly, they aren’t at the mercy of an entity that could leave either with no choice at all. It’s, at least, something!

    • Rebecca Finelli

    How I wish we had a market like that here. There are probably markets in New York City, but yours looks so beautiful. I love looking at photos of food, and even your shots of people. I have loved food since I was a tiny little girl. How fitting that most every job I’ve ever had revolves around food. My main job is manager of a grocery store, and the business I am starting now is a candy shop. I don’t know how I am not 400 pounds! Good metabolism I guess….
    Rebecca ♥

    • Anna

    No joke, my jaw dropped at the strawberry picture! I wish I could see the markets during springtime for myself, especially Rue Mouffetard (my main haunt during my brief study abroad this past winter)

    • hannah @ thepastrykook

    great pictures! the strawberries….man! they look too good.

    • Mira

    wish I could go to Paris one day… all those fresh stuff especially those strawberries, things I can’t find here :-(

    • beste

    j’adore les marchés français!

    • Antonia

    I live on Boulevard Barbès and hardly ever go to the Barbès markets. I suppose it’s terribly bobo of me, but I’d much rather spend Saturday morning at the Marché Batignolles. Really should make the effort to go to my local more though, when I’m not feeling agoraphobic. The spicy olives are wonderful! Thanks for this article David, I don’t often read about my neighbourhood on blogs.

    • lmphoto

    hey, David, did you just disappear from Facebook? may be a glitch, but i was following one of your links, and then, POOF, you were gone.

    what happened?

    My Facebook page is still there. There was a changeover last week, when they switched over from “fans” to “like”, so that may be it. The link is also in my far-right sidebar as well. -dl

    • The Teacher Cooks

    I loved your vivd description of the market. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. I do love your photograph of the bin of strawberries. Wish I was there.

    • Brian Asis

    The crowd is just insane :) Reminds me of the markets we have here in the Philippines, although it is much cleaner there. We also adapt the same social system here, the term used for a regular buyer or store of choice is “suki” here in the Philippines.

    • parisbreakfast

    Looks like a fabulous marche David!
    Thank you for taking us along.
    On the photography in Paris situation, it makes me think Parisiens should all go to the Westminster Dog Show. All owners and dogs are trained to pose happily the moment a camera is pointed their way. It is extraoridinary!

    • Heena @ Tiffin Tales

    The more things change, the more they remain the same – you’d think there was aboslutely no similarity between India and France. But there you have it – markets! Where people push their way through, nobody takes offence if you invade their personal space because the concept does not exist, people bargain and haggle and it is expected, and underneath it all is the spirit of bonhomie – what the French would call joie de vivre. I loved looking at these pictures. Coincidentally, a recent post (I’m very new to this wonderful food blogging community) I did has some pictures of markets in Old Delhi if you would like to take a look. Also, your article on Recipe Attribution helped me a lot with some of my initial questions. So thank you so much for that!

    • Martha in KS

    David, my cousin in LA took me to a mediterranean market that resembled a carnival bumper car ride. Everyone pushed & shoved – luckily I was warned beforehand. Otherwise this Kansan would have been shocked. But the pita was to die for!

    • Cheryl in Texas

    Oooh, this post is wonderful, and making me very envious. Photos, descriptions, yum, yum, yum.
    There is, of course, nothing remotely like that around here, nor anywhere in Texas that I know of.
    Sounds something like the Boston Haymarket in the ’70’s, though it was much less polyglot. Definitely got to know which vendors to trust and which not. I ate so well for so little in those days!

    You say quality isn’t the top consideration at this market, but man, those strawberries, those tomatoes, not to mention that fish! They would be several grades above what you can get in our best supermarkets most of the year. We are getting more farmers makrets, and more farmers willing to grow “odd” produce and herbs, but this is just not the climate for delicate berries, apples, pears, etc., let alone lettuces.

    Anyway, thanks. I’m also looking forward to a post on why photos are not welcomed. Now that I’ve found your blog, I will be back regularlly.

    • molly

    goodness, i’m starving, just looking at it. and i just ate. those strawberries, those winking lemons… thanks for the field trip!

    • Chicsetera Paris

    Great images! How funny that I should have never tried this market yet. You’ve inspired me to give it a go!


    • Sandra

    Open markets like that are rare in the US–one really has to look for them. Boston has a market that is near Quincy Market and Fanueil Hall, but doesn’t have the fish etc of the Barbes. And they only mark down near the end of the day from what I understand. Farmers markets are typically seasonal. Having seen these open markets with you in Paris and some in England, they are really great for finding amazing treasures of food, etc. And street vendors in NYC are another story of a different kind…….

    • danielle

    The Menilmontant market on Fridays is like Barbès. Aligre has a good every day market too.
    I won’t tell you my favourite market since it’s nice the way it is and doesn’t need hordes of tourists checking it out

    • Michael

    Wonderful post, David. Almost reminds me of Haymarket here in Boston – commercial produce more than a farmer’s market, but lots of good stuff at good prices, but probably near the “sell by date” if not past it. Good for veggies (and meat and fish) to use right away. (Paris markets are much nicer than Haymarket, of course.)

    The mention of chicken makes me hunger for something from the Chicken Lady at Richard Lenoir market!

    • TracyLH

    I have just discovered your site and can tell I will be back regularly. You photos and insight are just wonderful and your “Although they still push you out of the way, too. It’s just they use an Hermès tote” had me unexpectedly laughing aloud. I am so sorry to read of the loss of your beloved baguette. One never forgets their first love.

    • john

    “I have seen the king (Louis XIV) eat four platefuls of different soups, a whole pheasant, a partridge, a plateful of salad, mutton hashed with garlic, two good sized slices of ham, a dish of pastry and afterward fruit and sweetmeats” St. Simon
    That made for a lot of well nourished onions… (During his autopsy they found that the king had an intestine twice as long as a normal person’s)

    • Mirjam

    I love markets like that. There is one quite similar – but very Turkish – here in Berlin (Tue and Fri on Maybachufer, should you ever want to go). It’s very crowded too, especially during the summer, but also very inexpensive and a great place to shop for fruits, vegetables, olives and cheese.

    • Louis

    Beautiful post, thank you so much! I’m also half-curious as to why people are so wary of having photographs taken of their produce, although I suspect it has something to do with France’s anti-immigration culture. In any case, I’m looking forward to your post on that!

    My favorite part about the crowded marchés of northern and eastern Paris (I live in Belleville) is the incredible soundtrack they produce – singing, hawking, and calling out in eight different languages, not to mention the sounds of bags rustling and various kinds of food being chopped . . . and no matter how nervous people get around cameras, no one suspects the audio recorder!

    Thanks again!

    • Bonnie

    Can’t wait to read your post about the “big deal.” I got yelled at by a guy in the Rue Montorgueil market for taking pictures; had no idea why.

    So, à propos only marginally to your report, I’m supposed to be getting radishes in my next CSA box tomorrow. Apart from the obvious wash and chomp, any good ideas for what to do with them?

    • Gwenevere

    This is the first time I have made a comment on the internet but as a raving Francophile who loves Paris, having spent 8 months – in two trips – there last year, I am in tears as I read the comments on the Barbes market. It is so much me and up until now Belleville was my favourite but it is so like Barbes it is unbelievable. I had my trips staying in apartments and ate very rarely in restaurants as that amount of time precluded me from doing that – but I still love to read everything you put out on this website – and my grand-son loves your chocolate banana upside-down cake!!

    And I intend to make more and more of your recipes as unfortunately another trip won’t take place unless I win the lottery or find a rich Frenchman who likes women of a certain age. Although I must admit I love French men of any age, in fact the people of Paris are delightful and fun and my memory bank is full. I am an Australian who was given my last ticket to Paris as a 70th birthday present from my daughter and her family – so I will have to find good shopping here and try to save up for another trip – love France a j’adore Paris – il est tres tres belle pour mois


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