French Lesson at the Markets of Paris


French Market Bread Display Paris

Brush up your French with a lesson at a Paris market

by Marguerite Monnier, French tutor in Paris and founder of French As You Like It

When organizing a trip to Paris, one thing that’s high on many visitors list of to-do’s is to browse and shop at a typical French Market. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in real French daily life and also a great place to pick up some presents and souvenirs. But what is a typical French Market? There are over 57 open air and covered markets in Paris selling everything from fresh produce, fish, shellfish, meats, cheeses, fresh-cut flowers and breads. There are also markets specializing in gourmet produce, organic foods, handcrafted items, antiques, clothing and accessories, house wares and a variety of second-hand goods.

Each market has its own unique pace and ambiance. For example, there’s very little time to discuss at the fruit and vegetable produce at the Marché d’Alligre, which is one of the largest fruit and veg markets in the center of Paris and where many Parisian family’s shop for the quality and competitive prices of the Fresh produce. Here, the vender will pass out bags all over his stall for you to choose the goods by hand as there are too many customers for the seller to to hand select for you. However, the Marché Boulevard Raspail only sells organic food making it very exclusive. It has a more sedate pace, leaving a better opportunity to talk to the vendors about their produce. Note that there are no markets in Paris on Mondays, as it is the day for merchants to go to Rungis, the wholesale supplier.

Paris Market French Lesson

Practice your French while picking out fresh produce in Paris

Shopping at the market at least once per week is ingrained into the French culture and although supermarkets are always busy, you can guarantee it’s a little quieter on market day. So what makes shopping at the market so special for the French? Is it being able to check the prices of different competing stalls and get the lowest pricing? Is it being offered samples of strawberries or brioche to check the quality? Or is it more, as I suspect, the friendly and often cheeky banter with the vendors?

It’s not surprising then that French lessons at Parisian markets are one of our most popular demanded lesson locations and certainly one of the favorites amongst our teachers. If you are planning to shop at one of Paris’ markets and want to use the opportunity to dust off your French, why not try the French As You Like It Method for learning French. Find a bench in a Park (weather permitting) or a quiet coffee place next to the market (there is always a healthy number of cafés around the market and all doing a bustling trade on market day) and spend 30 minutes reviewing grammar and doing some exercises. After, it’s time for the “playful/practical” part where you put in practice what was just studied before.

Snails at French Market

Snails anyone?

Here is a short text about the markets of Paris and the vocabulary in French:

Les marchés, au cœur de la vie de Paris depuis des siècles, se sont multipliés et diversifiés notamment pour répondre aux attentes des clients en matière d’alimentation biologique ou d’horaires d’ouverture élargis. Très attractifs pour les marchands comme pour les Parisiens, ces commerces de grande proximité contribuent au dynamisme économique de leur quartier.

Les atouts des marchés

Le contact direct avec les clients est l’un des grands avantages de la vente sur les marchés pour les commerçants. L’attrait des marchés, lieux conviviaux appréciés des Parisiens, vient de leur très forte intégration dans la vie de quartier, ce qui leur donne un rôle réel d’animation et de vie.

L’autre avantage majeur est une bonne valorisation des produits, qui se traduit en meilleure rentabilité Ainsi les poissonniers et les crémiers, par exemple, sont plus nombreux à exercer sur les marchés qu’en boutiques.

Par cette forte attractivité, le marché peut aussi être la principale locomotive commerciale du quartier et profiter ainsi à l’ensemble des commerçants sédentaires environnants, comme le montre le cas du marché Saint-Honoré qui avait été supprimé, puis remis en fonctionnement en juin 2003.



To go to the market- Aller au marché

Stand- Un étalage

To ripen- Mûrir

To be tasty- Avoir du goût

(Une attente : expectation ;  un commerce de proximité : corner store ; un atout : asset ;  un quartier : neighborhood ; un attrait : appeal; une valorisation : enhancer ; une rentabilité : profitability; un crémier : a dairyman ;  exercer :   to work ; sédentaire : on site)

Interested in personalized French lessons on a specific topic or at sites “off the beaten path” in Paris? Contact us at [email protected] or visit our website

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