There’s this belief I’ve frequently run into back home (and been guilty of myself) that everything in Europe is going to be inherently superior to its New World counterpart. Produce is fresher (no GMOs allowed!), food tastier, beers frothier, and the cheapest wine in the grocery store better than anything you can get back home.
But in reality — of course — Europe is not a magical land flowing with an unending stream of bio (i.e.: organic) milk and honey — at least not down at your local Monoprix or Franprix — two of the giant chain grocery stores found here in Paris; which, like chain stores everywhere, struggle to provide a quality product (although the cheap wine thing is not far off). Over the past few weeks, I’ve appealed to friends and bloggers alike here in Paris, and am finally starting to form a rough map of some of the best locations to shop for groceries.
- Time Out Paris has a list of many open air markets in the city, which by and large tend to carry cheaper, fresher ingredients.
- My Parisian friends swear by the Marche d’Alegri in particular for their weekly shopping (added perk — a Mexican restaurant just opened nearby on the Rue Crozatier).
- I serendipitously ran into Paris based food blogger Joris of Les Tasters on the very street which turns out to have some the highest quality markets in the city on it. The street is the Rue du Nil, and the shops are all under the Terroirs d’Aviner label — you’ll find a grocer (offering locally sourced, often organic, often unavailable produce and speciality goods), fish monger (allegedly offering the freshest fish to be found in Paris), and butcher (not only local and organic, but also often wild, cuts of meat available), clustered halfway down the street facing each other. Added perk (for me) — after the tour Joris took a page from my notebook and drew this complex map you see below; detailing his recommended bars, cafes, bakeries and restaurants all around the city. I should have laminated the paper immediately, as I’ve now referred to it so many times it’s disintegrating at a rapid pace, but I promise I won’t let it dissolve before I post all of my findings here on the blog.
- Fellow ex-pat Kristen over at the Kale Project has created a helpful map of all the locations discovered so far in Paris carrying the super green in question — which really came in handy when I was trying to come up with a California dish to serve my French friends a week ago. I turned down their suggestion to get burgers (their idea of “American” food — another myth I’m working hard to dispel) to instead cook for them my own version of American cuisine, but that was before I’d scoped out the nearest Franprix. After weeks of searching through the big grocery stores, failing to find familiar spices and necessary ingredients, I was about to throw in the towel and order a round of burgers after all when I found Kristen’s blog. After a harrowing expedition to the Wednesday marche on the Boulevard President Wilson (lesson learned: take small change to open air markets — I thought I was going to be run out of town every time I asked vendors to break a 20), I was able to present the leafy green in salad form (and really, how more Californian can you get?).
- And finally, with the help of a classmate or two, I’ve discovered some smaller chains of biologique (organic, seasonal, local, etc.) groceries — namely Naturalia, Bio c’Bon, and Biocoop.
Does anyone have a favorite store, market, or stall to shop for groceries in Paris?