The Marché Notre Dame at Versailles

The Marché Notre Dame in Versailles was created more than 300 years ago by Louis XIV. Nowadays it is a wonderful place to shop for food, with covered market halls dating back to the 19th century that are open every day except Mondays, and a large and lively outdoor food market in the centre of the quadrangle of halls on Friday and Sunday mornings. The food is fresh, seasonal and often comes from local producers. It’s a great way to experience the atmosphere of a small town French provincial market, just a stone’s throw away from Paris.

I would recomend you take a train from Gare St Lazare in Paris to Versailles Rive Droite. Buy a picnic at the market and take it into the nearby gardens of the Palace of Versailles. Otherwise there are plenty of fantastic cafés and bistros around the market where you can enjoy a delicious lunch before strolling over to the palace, which is often less busy in the afternoons.

Too often visitors come to see the Palace of Versailles, and completely miss the beautiful town that it sits in. If you want to experience life in a small French town, Versailles is the perfect place to do it.

Marche Notre Dame, 78000 Versailles. Covered market open Tuesday – Saturday 07:00 – 19:30 and Sunday 07:00 – 14:00. Open air food market Tuesday, Friday and Saturday 07:00 – 14:00

The farmer’s market in autumn

As the seasons change so do the fruit and vegetables available at the farmers markets in France. I love the way people still buy and eat locally and seasonally here, it encourages us to experiment with new foods and recipes, and ensures that what we eat is fresh and at it’s best. Even the colours have changed to match those of autumn!

When we lived in the countryside near Bordeaux, we would forage for mushrooms, wild leeks and salad leaves. We used the wild elderflower to make drinks and our cupboards were full of jams, fruits in syrup, dried mushrooms and fruit compotes. We even made fresh ice creams with fruits from the orchard. It’s much harder with a small Parisian garden, but local markets are all over the city and growers come from the countryside bringing fresh, local produce. You can find a market somewhere every day, just make sure you go in the morning, by lunchtime everyone has packed up and gone home.

And nowadays we can even find kale in Paris, thanks in a large part to this wonderful blog, The Kale Project. I used to grow it, and really missed it when I got back here. Running around Paris looking for it (use the great map on the blog) allowed me to discover all kinds of wonderful farmers markets that I may not have otherwise got to.

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The above photos were all taken at the Marché des Enfants Rouges in the Marais.

 

Vintage couture fashion – the salon du vintage

Like the Puces du Design, the Salon du Vintage is held twice a year in Paris, and its locations vary, although the two I have been to this year have both been in the Marais. This weekend it was held in the magnificent Carreau du Temple, a covered market hall built in 1860 in the haut Marais that has recently been completely restored.

The theme of this edition was British fashion from the 1950’s to the 1990s, and there was an exhibition of iconic designer dresses, curated by a lovely friend of mine Tara from Oh la la! Vintage – featuring Ossie Clarke, Mary Quant, Biba, Vivienne Westwood and many more. All the dresses in the exhibition were for sale, a chance to buy something really rare and special.

There’s fashion here for all budgets, including the most beautiful designer pieces from all the big names. If you love vintage fashion, and want to pick up an amazing collector item as an addition to your wardrobe, something individual, or just browse for ideas, this is the place to do it. There’s also a DJ (Boy George played the Saturday night set) and dancing, as well as a hair salon and café.

Check out their website for locations of upcoming editions.

Salon du Vintage

 

 

Les Puces du Design – The Parisian designer flea market

This past weekend was the ‘Puces du Design’, the flea market dedicated to furniture from the 1950’s to 2000.

Now in it’s 15th year, this street market brings together around 100 gallerists and dealers showcasing, and of course selling, all the iconic names in furniture and lighting design – all original vintage and in pristine condition. It’s a design lovers paradise…

The Puces du Design is held twice a year in October and May, locations around the city vary. Check out their website for information about past and upcoming editions.

Les Puces du Design

 

A farm on our doorstep

One of the (many) great things about living in Paris is that it’s quick and easy to escape the city – in no time at all you can find yourself in rolling countryside with nothing but fields as far as you can see.

I love to shop at the farmers markets which you can find all over the city, but even better, we like to go to the farm and pick our own fruit, vegetables and flowers. One of the best ones I have ever been to is about 17km away, to the west of the city.

This time of year is a real feast, we came home loaded with all sorts of delicious, fresh produce. And of course it’s as local as possible, about 20 minutes from the field to the fridge! It’s fantastic to live in such a beautiful city, with amazing access to art, fashion and culture, but Paris is also a city where private gardens are scarce. If you’re lucky you can have access to a shared garden, but otherwise it’s wonderful to be able to enjoy the pleasures of picking our own fruit and vegetables at the weekends too, just as if it was my own garden!

Cueillette de Viltain

Open daily 9:00 – 19:00 from early April to November

The Flower Market on the Ile de la Cité

Located on the Ile de la Cité, right in the heart of Paris and just around the corner from Notre Dame, is the flower and bird market. Open daily from 8am to 7pm, it’s a profusion of flowers and plants, partly outdoors but also covered under metal market stalls built in the early 1900’s. The market has been here since 1808, and is a riot of colours and perfumes. It’s small and picturesque, on Sundays it becomes a bird market. It’s well worth a detour if you are in the area visiting Notre Dame or the Sainte Chapelle. The Ile de la Cité itself is beautiful and a wonderful place for a morning walk.

    • Place Louis Lepine and Quai de la Corse, 75004 Paris  metro: Cité

Weekend mornings at the flea markets of St Ouen

The flea markets in the north of Paris, at St Ouen, are a real treasure trove, and a wonderful place to spend a few hours on a weekend morning.

Divided into 15 different markets: Paul Bert, Serpette, Biron and many more, each is like a small village. You can wander down alleyways full of small stalls and shops, with cafés serving great brunches and lunches, and find some amazing treasures.

If you want to furnish your home, you can choose between pieces from all eras, including many beautiful antiques and iconic designer pieces:

If you are a vintage clothes fan, I especially recommend Chez Sarah, an incredible shop where you will find everything from ribbons and feathers to vintage couture. There are also many other stalls selling clothes and jewellery.

You can find anything and everything here!

If you want to have lunch or brunch, there are many lovely cafés to choose from.

There is a great atmosphere here, it’s fun to browse and fantastic for shopping. Events are often held, such as jazz weekends or themed visits. Go along on a weekend morning and check out their website to see what is going on.

Marché aux Puces St Ouen

Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday 10:00 – 17:30.

Take Metro line 4 to Porte de Clignancourt. Cross the peripherique (ring road) and you’re there. Follow signs to Marché Paul Bert to get to the better parts of the market, don’t be put off by the stalls you see when you first get there.

The farmer’s market in early summer

One of the things I love about living in France is that people here enjoy eating food when it is in season. Of course you can get all types of fruits and vegetables all year round, but I like shopping the French way, going to the market and buying local produce when it is at it’s best.

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We look forward to the first French strawberries and asparagus in late May, and gorge ourselves on them knowing that the feast will soon be over. Not only does it mean you eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables throughout the year, but it really seems to add to the pleasure knowing that you only have a short window of time to enjoy them in. And of course they are always at their best just harvested, it’s hard to beat the first fresh apricot of early summer.

At this time of year we are spoilt for choice… below is what was on offer at the market in Chartres this morning. You can find markets in and around Paris every day of the week, many of them like this one with local producers selling what they grow. Just make sure you go in the mornings – by lunchtime everything and everyone will have disappeared.

 

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges

Created in 1615 under Louis XIII, the Marché des Enfants Rouges is the oldest market in Paris. It was named after the orphans from the nearby orphanage – dressed in red as a sign of charity, and was set up to feed the new neighbourhood of the Marais.

Today it is a small but vibrant and diverse covered market. Saved by locals in 2000 who petitioned vigorously to have it reopened, it now houses various stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meats, bread and flowers, but also an eclectic range of eateries, always busy at lunchtime and a wonderful place to grab some lunch and sit on the terraces amongst the market stalls. I went on a Sunday, and had a choice of Japanese, Italian, Lebanese, Moroccan, farmers burgers, brunch, traditional French bistro fare, crepes or charcuterie and cheese plates from a wine bar. The atmosphere is lively and local, the setting picturesque (the market is now a listed historic monument) and the food delicious.

The market is located in the top end of the Marais, or ‘Haut Marais’, now even more fashionable and still less known to tourists than the lower end. A visit and lunch in the market followed by a stroll down through the lively southern end of the Marais is a great way to spend a day.

Open daily 8:30 – 13:00 and 16:00 – 19:30. Sunday 8:30 – 14:00. Closed Mondays.

  • Marché des Enfants Rouges, 39 rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris. Métro: Arts et Metiers

Sunday mornings at the Porte de Vanves flea market

On Sunday mornings, from 7am until lunchtime, the Porte de Vanves, on the outer edge of the 14th arrondissement, hosts an amazing array of stalls selling antiques, vintage clothes, vinyl records and all kinds of treasures.

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Smaller and friendlier than the big flea market at the Porte de Clignancourt, and with a much better chance of finding a bargain, this is a great place to spend a sunny morning. The things I particularly loved were the embroidered dowry sheets, lace nightshirts and lots of vintage designer clothes, especially from the 60’s to 80’s (I would have loved to snap up a Lanvin cape and a faux fur Dior bomber jacket but both were unfortunately a bit over my budget!), kitchenware of all sorts (lots of funky 70’s stuff), bundles of silver cutlery tied up with ribbons, buttons, silk threads, vintage beads and sequins, a fantastic stall with paper bags and tiny boxes from an old pharmacy – all with beautiful graphics on – posters and original fashion illustrations, and best of all, dolls eyes with long eyelashes that blinked!

The market is under a row of shady trees, there’s a traditional coffee and ‘frites’ stand and even a piano player to serenade you. The stallholders generally speak good English and there’s lots of friendly banter.

Situated along the Avenue Georges Lafenestre, take the metro or the tram to Porte de Vanves and it’s a short walk.

  • Avenue Georges Lafenestre, 75014 Paris.  Metro: Porte de Vanves.