Parisians often go to the market. Refrigerators are smaller in Paris, therefore the city’s inhabitants need to shop for fresh produce more regularly. And going to the market is a pleasure of a Parisian life, as this is where one may socialize with friends, meet neighbors, and take in some fresh air. Most Paris markets are outdoors, which is why they are sometimes referred to as “open air” markets. It is common to stop for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine while shopping, and to see the terraces cluttered with shopping bags.
There are several butchers, fish mongers, and cheese shops at every market, but Parisians soon develop a relationship with one of each and often always buy at the same place. These particular shop vendors will become their fish monger, their butcher. They will talk and brag about them : “Mon boucher a les meilleurs gigots” (my butcher has the best legs of lamb). This special relationship with the shop vendor will insure that they get the best products every time, and it is really common for French people to follow the vendor’s advice and tips
When visiting the open air markets in Paris, remember, the early bird get the worm! It is better to go early to the market, so you may choose from the best looking salads, strawberries, and grapes. Use small politeness formulas while entering and exiting the shops. Even if you don’t speak French, it’s valuable to learn simple phrases such as “Bonjour Madame” (Good day ma’am), “Bonjour Monsieur” (Good day sir), “Merci” (Thank you), and “Au revoir” (Goodbye). These little sentences will show your desire to take part in Parisian culture, and endear you to both the vendors and other shoppers. There are no rules other than don’t touch the produce. Browsing markets in Paris is a great way to get to know the city and its occupants.
(published by Patrick Rech – Nov. 24, 2015)