Out of Paris's numerous open-air food markets, the vibrant stalls and old covered market situated on and near the Place d'Aligre are certainly among the city's most coveted. Gourmet types and food bloggers regularly cite this market as one of the best spots in town to stock up on first-rate fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, cheese, wine and beer, fresh flowers or bakery items at the stalls and shops in the area. Whether you wish to take a stroll to whet your appetite before lunch and perhaps taste a bit of fresh fruit, or you're in the market for the perfect ingredients for a meal or impromptu picnic, a morning at the Marché d'Aligre comes highly recommended.
If you can't make the morning open-air market, the gorgeous old Beauvau covered market has plenty of high-quality stalls selling fresh produce and other items. First opened in 1779, this historic market allows for a gourmet stroll on rainy days in Paris.
Getting There and Opening Times:
The outdoor stalls and shops and the Beauvau traditional covered market are located on the Place Aligre, just east of the Bastille area and easily accessible by metro.
- Address: Place d'Aligre, 12th arrondissement
- Metro: Ledru-Rollin (line 8)
- Tel: + 33 (0)126.96.36.199.11
Opening Hours and Best Times to Visit:
If you want to amble through the open-air stalls at Aligre, make sure you reserve your morning and early afternoon, as they close by 1:30 or 2:00 pm. I recommend going during the week if possible since the market gets very crowded on weekends. The covered Beauvau market and the permanent shops are open until the early evening.
- Monday: Closed
- Tuesdays to Fridays: 7:00 am to 1:30 pm
- Weekends: 7:00 am to 2:30 pm
Beauvau covered market:
- Monday: Closed
- Tuesdays to Fridays: 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 7:30 pm
- Saturday: 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm top 7:30 pm
- Sunday: 9:00 am to 1:30 pm
Touring the market with an in-the-know friend is always a plus....
In all of my years living in Paris, I'd admittedly only made it over to the Aligre market once or twice. This time around, I vowed to see it through the eyes of someone with real know-how. I enlisted my good friend and former colleague Jason Keller (pictured above) to take me on a whirl of the market on a quiet, sunny weekday (as mentioned, this is generally the best way to avoid crowds).
Jason's a consummate self-taught gourmet who manages to cook (and bake) amazing food without a hint of pretention, even when it's experimental.
He's the kind of guy who seeks out only the best ingredients for his (often impromptu) creations, and knows just where to find them. The kind of guy who wakes up on a Sunday morning and whips up what he considers a fairly "basic" weekend breakfast: brioche French toast with grilled peaches, pears, vanilla, ginger, and pink peppercorn-infused syrup is a favorite.
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So it was a delight to have him point out some of his favorite stalls and shops at the market as we strolled up and down the open-air lane, whiffs of fresh strawberries and cheese and fish trailing on the air. The market criers call out bargains as they have for centuries, imploring you to come try a wedge of juicy tangerine or even a bit of laboriously-opened pomegranate.
Join our virtual tour of the market, including some of Jason's favorite stalls and sellers, by clicking through the slides.
A fruit seller at the market offers a bounty of tantalizing varieties...
As we stroll through the innumerable stalls at the Aligre, I'm struck by how many regional varieties of fruit and vegatables are on offer here: the sense of abundance, and choice, is almost overwhelming at first. I encourage you to sample widely and find your own favorites. It's well and good to claim that one stand outdoes them all, but the standards at this market are high enough that you can safely experiment and make your own discoveries.
Gorgeous purple artichokes tempt the eye
I don't eat artichokes all that often, although I do love them (some claim they're a waste of time and a waste of space since so little of the plant is edible, but I think they're amusing and delicious). These pale purplish specimens caught my eye immediately.
A fruit seller serves melon to a customer
The mountains of fresh cherries at this stand drew me in. Part of the fun of going to the market is interacting with the sellers-- most of whom are warm and enthusiastic. If you don't know much French, you'll probably be able to get by in English, although, as I"ve recommended elsewhere, it's always important to say "Bonjour" and "merci" lest you be perceived as rude.
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Occasionally, as Jason and I discovered, some sellers are grouchy about having their picture taken: it's probably best to ask before you do so.
Plump red pomegranates catch the eye...
Pomegranates have always been more visually appealing to me than interesting to eat whole-- although I do enjoy the juice. Here, the heaping pile of striking red fruit really added to the cheerful ambiance at the market.
Old-fashioned music-box players add to the ambiance
Many people imagine Paris to be the kind of old-world place where everyone dons berets and plays accordion standards in the street. Here, a father and son team of street musicians is clearly trying to cultivate that old-fashioned vibe. And it works.
Delicate purple and white aubergines (eggplants)
Eggplants are another favorite of mine, and these delicate purple ones at one of Jason's preferred vegetable vendors looked divine. One tip for cooking: always get the water out by placing salted slices of eggplant on layers of paper towels or clean dishtowels. They come out with a much more delicate, less gummy texture that way.
"Fredo", a watermelon not unlike Wilson from "Castaway"....
At this stand at the Aligre market, a humorous vendor has anthropomorphized a watermelon, calling him "Fredo".
Gorgeous garlic bulbs at the Aligre
Not only am I a garlic fiend from a standpoint of taste: I also admire the plant for its beauty. At the Aligre market, you can find bulbs in all sorts of colors and varieties. I especially love the purplish ones (are you seeing a theme here yet?)
A panoply of beautiful red fruits and berries: perfect for summer tarts
In this shot from a particularly coveted fruit stand at the Marche d'Aligre, a panoply of beautiful red fruits and berries including the prized gariguette strawberries from the Gironde region of France, smaller and much sweeter than most commercial varieties. They're perfect for summer tarts and smoothies, and for enjoying whole with a glass of champagne or with a nice soft, ripened French cheese like Brie de Meaux.
White and green asparagus, peppers, and other beautiful vegetables
Since my tour of the Aligre market fell in June, the asparagus (traditionally a spring vegetable) still looked absolutely delicious. Here, white and green varieties grace one stand.
An abundance of cherries at the Aligre
In this shot, a tempting mountain of cherries draws you to this fruit seller.
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Fresh flowers from the market
While the Aligre outdoor market specializes in fruit and vegetables, there are also several stands offering gorgeous houseplants and cut flowers. If you're invited to a special dinner in Paris, you'll be sure to find the perfect floral arrangement here.
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Another shot of a customer and a seller at the Aligre
Another shot of the laid-back ambiance felt at the Aligre during the weekdays. At the weekends, it can be a lot more hustle-and-bustle.
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A fresh fish market at Aligre
Unless you're staying in an apartment or other accommodations with cooking facilities, a visit to the permanent fish shop at the Aligre will probably be reserved for admiring only. Still, it's well worth it. Here, a customer checks out the fresh shellfish on display.
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A cheese stand offers endless tempting varieties at the covered Beauvau market
What would a Paris market be without at least one or two good cheese stands? Not much of one at all, is my answer. Dozens of varieties of French and foreign cheeses are elegantly presented at this indoor cheese shop at the covered Beauvau market, letting off tantalizing whiffs (if you don't mind strong cheeses, that is).
Juicy red and green tomatoes in the Beauvau covered market
I don't know about you, but for me, tomatoes are synonymous with summer. So I was particularly delighted by this stand inside the Beauvau covered market at Aligre, displaying several varieties of especially juicy red and green tomatoes (and shades featuring both colors).
Le Baron Rouge wine bar: a great place for an aperitif or light meal
Le Baron Rouge wine bar, situated smack in the middle of the Aligre food market, is a great place for an aperitif and/or light meal. It only opens at 5 pm, though, so you should plan accordingly if you want to see the open-air market which closes much earlier at around 2:00 pm each day.
Colorful root vegetables are the highlight at this stand
Fan of root vegetables? Carrots, beets, parsnips, and other nutrition-rich root veggies are a true highlight at this market stand on the Place d'Aligre in Paris.
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