Some time ago
Three years ago I stayed in Paris in the Montparnasse area as a starting point for a visit of the Rungis wholesale market. Close to the hotel was the Marché Edgar Quinet, named after a French historian. It stretches along a boulevard with the same name – comes very handy.
I really enjoyed the market as it offered a large variety of beautiful produce, wanting me to immediately buy a bigger fridge and stove. I took pictures but never turned it into a post. Rungis dominated my mind.
In December 2022 I made it again to Montparnasse and had almost forgotten that there was a market in the area. So I was pleasantly surprise to rediscover it while looking for a breakfast place.
Had it changed in the meantime?
Not really to be honest, at least not in terms of beauty.
Not sure it still stretches for quite a bit and I needed some time to cover it all. Even without buying too much.
The produce were still beautiful. These great selection of cheeses from various French regions were so seducing. From my perspective: nobody beats the French is this domain.
Oysters were plenty, in all sizes and types. I still don’t know why I did not eat any on the spot. Two times the same mistake, I should be ashamed!
Unfortunately it did not make sense to purchase some fish. Hotels are not made for cooking.
As I am baking bread, I always have to test the ones of other bakers. This time it was an organic focaccia. Good but not impressive, I do better 🙂
What I have never tried to do is puff pasty, I leave this to the pros. I bought one filled with cheese. Just great! Even after a couple days back at home and reheating in a microwave I was just delighted. Delighted by the flaky pastry which gave a light crunch entry to the melted cheese with its full flavor providing a gourmet feel good moment.
The meat displays were just great, something I have not found in a comparable quality in Germany, the Netherlands and Eastern Europe. Even the impressive assortment at the St. Lawrence Market Hall in Toronto I recently visited could not match it. The market follows the nose to tail approach. From pig feet, via tripe, marvelous meat cuts, cooked hams with their bone to whole capons with their beautifully feathered heads, it was a journey through a sophisticated cuisine.
Fruits and vegetables stalls are plenty as well, but less remarkable than the other stalls. Here even in my German hometown I have a larger variety, at least in winter time.
Ready made meals of the hearty type complement the market offering. They are worth being eaten on the spot.
Farmers’ markets are about the location which defines produce, prices, customers and of course the traders or producers. Some of the traders know their business, some less. Some are communicative some not.
I believe those who communicate make more business. At least with me. Even when I make myself believe that I can distinguish a good product from a bad one, a good stall owner will certainly convince me of almost anything. At least in the moment I am there.
How does it work? Talk to me, entertain me or show that you are a nerd and know your produce. Or in short: have a good story to tell.
The guy who sold nuts knew exactly how to trigger me, he made jokes, complimented me in front of my wife (I like that) and “forced” me to try a sample of his almonds. They were good indeed and I had to buy a rather too generous amount. He made me try some other samples as well, but I was strong enough this morning to resist his charm.
And of course there is the classic joke on farmers’ markets: when I am asking for permission to take photos, I will get the answer to pay for it 5 or sometimes 50 €uro. This is of course the start of a jolly chat making me happy that I asked.
I will not remember all the dialogues we had at the market, but I certainly will always remember that I was nicely entertained at the Marché Edgar Quinet, one reason to come back another time.
All in all
The marché Edgar Quinet is a traditional French market which gives not only tourists a good introduction into the produce which are at the base the wonderful French cuisine. It is neither a low end nor high end or hipster market, it is down to earth, nothing fake about it. It is worth a visit, if not a detour.
A book which always helps when I am in Paris is the “Markets of Paris” from Marjorie R. Williams. It describes quite a few markets by arrondissement (neighborhood) and helps me to find the good ones and their opening times. It is not too recent, but still a very good guide.
She has also written a guide on markets in Provence.
On this blog you will also find posts on other markets in France. Check here