One of the best parts of renting a Paris Perfect luxury apartment is your fully-equipped kitchen, which allows you to visit the local Paris food markets to buy delicious, fresh ingredients for a gourmet lunch or dinner back at “home” … with very little cooking required! French markets are a way of life. More than just a place to buy food, markets are a social gathering. Parisians have favorite vendors they visit regularly and catch up on each other's lives, inquiring about their children, the weather, current events, etc. But don't worry, tourists and browsers are always welcome, too.
There are many food markets in Paris, and one of our favorites is the Avenue du President Wilson Market (also called Marché President Wilson or the Pont de l'Alma market). Parisians and visitors alike love this market in the 16th arrondissement for the freshest fish, fruits, vegetables, pasta, cheeses, prepared dishes, flowers, olives and more.
Getting to the market is an easy stroll from many of our luxury Paris Perfect apartments in the 7th arrondissement. As you cross the Pont de l'Alma bridge, you will see the entrance to the popular Bateaux Mouches Seine River sightseeing cruises on the right, and a large golden flame monument on the left, that has turned into a make-shift memorial for the late Princess Diana. Go past the flame and veer left at the next street, and look for the white and colored awnings covering the stalls along Avenue du President Wilson.
We visited on a Wednesday morning and found all the vendors to be very pleasant, and happy to try out their English …which was no doubt better than our French. I asked permission to photograph, and every vendor was agreeable and accommodating.
I had a lovely conversation with the pate purveyor, who insisted I sample his fois gras, and told me about his local, free-range (not force-fed) geese. Two important words to know in French – “degustation gratuit” – free sample!
He shared magazine articles of his products with me, and told me stories of his children … his daughter is a professor at the University of Texas, and his son is living in the Seychilles. He has two granddaughters, with a grandson on the way. After 10 minutes, I felt I knew him well!
Tip: Always greet the vendors with a polite “Bonjour” and ask permission if you want to touch the produce. It's considered rude to just walk up and start squeezing the tomatoes!
A German film crew was there the morning we visited, filming a story on the market and interviewing Parisians as to why they like this particular market best.
Don't worry if you don't speak French. Just say “Bonjour madame/monsieur”, point, smile … and if the quantity to be purchased is in question, sign-language goes a long way. If you want less of something, try the word “demi” meaning “half.” If you want two of something, raise your thumb and forefinger. Counting “one” starts with your thumb.
The fishmongers drive in early in the morning from the coast of Normandy and Brittany with the freshest fish, shrimp, lobsters, mussels, oysters and escargot.
The succulent displays highlight whatever is fresh and in season.
Toward the western end the street you'll find prepared food to go (emporter) including mouthwatering paella, beef bourguignon simmering in open pots, sausages, kraut, roasted potatoes, quiches, ham and more.
Also try the Spanish and Middle Eastern dishes with olive oil and herbs cooked on a convex metal drum.
On our Wednesday trip to the market we purchased a rotisserie roast chicken, with potatoes cooked in the drippings, fresh artichoke ravioli and fresh pesto (heavenly), ingredients for a salad, baguettes, blood oranges, strawberries and wine before returning to our Paris Perfect apartment to enjoy this tasty lunch.
Your fresh market lunch will be one of your favorite meals in Paris, and with a large refrigerator, you can enjoy the best leftovers you've ever tasted the next day.
The Marché President Wilson is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7:00 am to about 2:00 pm. Bring your shopping bag or rolling cart and stock up your Paris Perfect kitchen with Parisian treats!
Marché President Wilson
Ave. du President Wilson, 16th arr.
Metro Line 9; stop Alma Marceau
RER line C; stop Pont du l'Alma, and cross the Seine
Thank you to Mary Ann Grisham for this post and beautiful photos!