A Sunday in Paris
Italian Paris-based designer Daniela Diletto took me on an epicurean adventure: grocery shopping the French way.
By Monika Stengert. Photography by Antoine Ricardou.
Like anywhere else in the world Paris weekends have their rhythm. Saturdays are for pain au chocolate and coffee with friends, time with the kids, shopping. Sundays are for parks, outdoor markets, and home cooked meals. This is the French way.
Not so long ago on a sunny Sunday in Paris I followed suit and accompanied my friend Daniela on her weekend ritual to Marché Aligre. Marché Aligre, located in the 12th arrondissement between Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine and Rue de Charenton, is probably known best for its lively vibes and wide selection.
Our visit began by aiming at what could be considered the heart of Marché Aligre: Marché Beauvau, a covered part of the Marché that I later found out is one of the few remaining covered markets in Paris. Marché Beauvau is typical French with its old school stands selling a large selection of gourmet foods: rare cheeses, aged meats (horse, if you're into that), oysters, produce, mouth watering pastries, etc., but what makes it unique is its size. Manageably small it doesn't let you feel overwhelmed, something that happens quickly if you're not accustomed to buying food this way.
While I walked the market via the ingredients Daniela chose for our dinner along the way I met each and every one of her smiley (and not so smiley, like "cheese lady") food-selling friends. I was told that the people and personalities selling at outdoor markets are one of the reasons the French shop this way. First reason, they are always (even if grumpy) interesting characters, but more importantly, if you go regularly they get to know you and eventually you're offered their finest...things they don't display.
As we were leaving I suggested we do what I like to do on a Sunday (especially in foreign places). Visit the flea market because it happen to be next door. Turns out, the flea market is a lovely bonus to Marché Aligre. Within minutes in the strange mish-mash of this little flea, Daniela found a flower covered plate that she would later serve us on and I a 5 € vintage map of France, to go with my map collection in New York and maybe to also serve as a reminder on the importance of keeping ritual.
Finally, no French marché moment would have been complete without a stop at a cafe, which in our case was Le Square Trousseau (super cozy and great French food, well worth a visit for dinner). Taking our espressos I stared back at the Marché Aligre's vital energy. Supermarches with their checked out cashiers and phone toggling customers will never compare to the fresh experience we just had. Outdoor markets in France are alive each location has its own personality, café and crowd. Sitting there I thought about the heat lamps that would soon replace the sun and how I must return this winter. This is ritual is for every season.
Ledru-Rollin line 1
Tuesday-Saturday 8a-5p; Sunday 8a-1p.
Tuesday-Saturday 8am-5pm; Sunday 8am-1pm
Marché Beauvau: The covered market at Marché d'Aligre
Tuesday-Friday 9am-1pm & 4-7:30pm
Saturday 9am-1pm & 3:30-7:30pm
Le Square Trousseau Café & Restaurant
1 Rue Antoine Vollon, 75012 Paris, France