When you think of Paris, most people think of the majesty of the Eiffel Tower, the romance of the architecture, or the artistic masterpieces at the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay. But much of the pleasure of being in Paris comes from the juxtaposition of those large monuments of French culture with the small gems of Parisian street life. One of the places where that all comes together are the many street markets of Paris.
These street markets have a long tradition. In fact, Paris’ markets are where the term “flea market” comes from, based on the unique and antique items that visitors can find here. There are two types of outdoor markets that can be found throughout the city. The first are the permanent markets, which typically include both storefronts and outdoor stalls, and where you can find all sorts of items, from textiles and antiques to food and flowers. The other type of market are the dozens of markets that are only open on specific days of the week. These markets tend to be focused on produce, baked goods, and other foodstuffs, but you will find everything from art to kitchen items to clothing as well.
A fun way to experience the outdoor markets of Paris is to stumble across them on a day spent exploring the city. However, if you don’t have time to wander the city – or just want to make sure you don’t miss out – here are my recommendations.
Five of the best outdoor markets in Paris:
Marche Edgar Quinet
Occurring every Wednesday and Saturday year round, this market offers an incredible assortment of local food. Visitors who have access to a kitchen can buy beautiful produce from regional farmers, while those who do not can snack on fresh bread and cheese or pick up a prepared meal. On Sundays the stalls of this market are filled with local artists for the “Marche de la Creation” art market, which is totally worth a visit as well. Furthermore, the adjoining streets feature quintessential Parisian flea markets, so you get the best of both types of outdoor markets here.
Marche aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux
The beauty of this market completely dedicated to flowers can not be overstated. Here you will find a wide variety of plants every day of the week as well as houseplant and gardening accessories. If you can visit on Sunday you are in for a special treat – on this day the market is also filled with birds for sale.
Marche de Enfants Rouges
The name of this market literally translates to “Market of the Red Children.” One of the oldest open-air markets in Paris, the name is rumored to harken back to a time when an orphanage was located adjacent to the market. Instead of that, you will find a covered open-air market here, filled with amazing produce and prepared food from around the world. Open Tuesday-Sunday, the incredible food here makes this market a favorite spot for locals.
Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
If you are looking for an authentic Parisian flea market experience, you need to check out this market which is open on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. A sprawling maze of alleyways, warehouses, streets, and stands, there is no way you will be able to see it all when visiting here. Wherever you wander through this market though, you are sure to find unique items that will make truly wonderful souvenirs.
If you are exploring Paris on a Thursday or a Sunday, this centrally located market is a good place to meander to get a flavor for the local food scene. Among the copious amounts of produce, you can find breads, cured meats, olives, and other tasty treats to snack on, as well as a large assortment of clothing and souvenirs. Furthermore, if you stop by the same location on Saturday, you will find the stalls filled with art, jewelry, and other handmade goods.
Whether you have a week in Paris, or just a few days before or after your Seine River cruise , be sure to check out at least one of these wonderful markets. If you would like more recommendations for a trip to Paris, please reach out any time.
Kira Gartner is the owner of Blue Sky Destinations, a boutique travel agency specializing in river cruises, luxury expedition cruises and customized European vacations. For years she has helped curious travelers plan vacations that allow them to unwind, reconnect, and immerse themselves fully in a destination. Reach out to her for a free consultation - and let her start designing your dream vacation!