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French Marketplace

Buying bread in a Parisian marketplace

If you go all the way to France without visiting a real French marketplace, you would have completely missed France. Seriously. And many people will tell you that you have to go out into the countryside to a village to see one, but they're mistaken. There are many good marketplaces inside Paris proper, some more French than others.

A marketplace is sometimes an open area where shop owners set up stalls and sell goods, but the one we enjoyed the most was a long narrow street filled with shops that just set up carts outside. The French marketplace is an event that most tourists miss, simply because they are caught up with visiting so many other sights. There is also the tendency to think, "Why would I want to see a French marketplace? I don't need groceries." But a trip to the market is to sample the culture more than anything else. Here you can see real locals going around to get the things they need, taste items that you wouldn't have been able to in a conventional market, and snap some great pictures.

All the photos on this page were taken at the Rue Mouffetard market, close to the Place Monge metro stop. This is a terrific marketplace. There are other markets that serve up more ethnic or gourmet food, but if you only have time to visit one market, this is the one you want to go to.

You can find just about anything here, as long as you're looking for something fresh. Fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, pastries, bread, sausages, anything. We took the opportunity to stock up on some things we needed for a picnic at Chateau de Versailles the next day. People are friendly here, as this is off the beaten tourist track. A great place to enjoy the music, people, food, and feel of Paris.

Plan a picnic of your own! Pick up a broiled chicken, some fresh strawberries, and topnotch wine. Add in some sliced meat, cheese, and a loaf of French bread, and you're all set.

Like I said, people are more friendly here. We discovered that when we wandered into a shop and started looking for cheeses to take back to our families. This woman went above and beyond the call of duty... She let us sample about ten different kinds of cheeses, some of them very old. She helped us select the perfect ones, vacuum-seal them, and gave us some good advice about traveling in France.

It's hard to stay away from the chocolatier shops, with their delicious, aromatic displays of crafted chocolates and candies. I probably spent the most time there!

One shop had this fantastic chocolate fountain. This is way before they
became popular in the US! You've got to check out the chocolate makers' shops.

At the end of the street, we saw something that neither of us had ever seen. There was an open area in the small streets where people had crowded. At the center was a woman singing traditional French songs and people dancing. As soon as we joined the crowd a man with a smile on his face handed us a sheet of paper with the lyrics to a few of the songs. Many people in the crowd were singing along with the woman who had the microphone. We're still not sure what that was all about, or if the neighborhood people just do that every weekend or what. But it was very cool, very French, and very unexpected!

Below are a few shots of some of the little restaurants they had around this area.

And I just had to include this shot. Jenn found this basket... it looks like the baskets that a few of the people shopping were carrying around with them, and it looks exactly like the baskets everyone is carrying around in the opening scene in Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast' when Belle is shopping around in the marketplace. We would have bought one and taken it home, but transporting it without it getting damaged would have been difficult.

And the last shot is one of Jenn and I, taken by some American ex-pats sitting at the table next to us.

A trip to a French Marketplace is something that should be on your itinerary from the start! Not to be missed!


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