Your first few weeks in Paris
When you first arrive it can
be a bit scary to see the huge array of cheeses, the mountains of different
breads, and all the other delicious, strange and familiar foods. You want to
try everything, but you don't really know what some of it is.
I remembered when
I lived in Japan and went to buy stuff to wash clothes, but what I actually
came home with was very strong bleach for cleaning toilets! Luckily a friend
spotted the mistake before I ruined my wardrobe.
France is much easier than
that though, and everything can be looked up in a dictionary. So be
adventurous, but do be prepared to make a few mistakes - it is all part of the
fun. Food is one of the best things the French do, and Paris has it all.
The main places for buying
food are the hypermarkets (hypermarchés), supermarkets (supermarchés), small, specialized
shops and the open-air markets,
there are also some shops that sell imported
foods if you are missing something from home.
The hypermarkets tend to
be located outside the peripherique, and are usually best visited by car.
Within the city there are a large number of supermarkets, some smaller than
others, but there is usually one within about 10 minutes walk.
In some hyper-
and supermarkets you must weigh and get prices for your fruit and veg. before
going to the checkouts. This is not as difficult as it might seem, as they all
have pictures on the keys of the machines. If in doubt just look at what others
do. In other places your fruit and veg. will be weighed and priced at the
If you want to use a supermarket trolley normally you have to put 1
euro into the slot near the handle of the trolley. This is refundable when you
replace the trolley.
At the checkouts you usually have to pack your food
yourself. Nearly all supermarkets will deliver your goods to your home. You can
pay by cheque, cash or carte bleu (the card that you are issued with when you
open a bank account).
Picard is a chain of shops selling frozen foods,
and they operate just like a supermarket. I am not a great fan of frozen food, but their stuff is reasonably good, so I usually have some of theri fish in the freezer just in case. A freind I have who entertains a lot swears by their party food, but I prefer Bon Marche - see below - for this.
The Real McCoy, 194 rue de Grenelle, 75007.
This small shop stocks mainly food from North America but also some British
Le Bon Marche, 22 rue de Sèvres, 75007. Metro
Has an extensive international selection in the Grand
Epicerie on the ground floor. The cheese section is good and they will advise
you if you want to choose for a cheese board. The bread is superb. The wine section is also really
good and it is the best place for good whisky - even cheaper than in Scotland - so
much for the common market.
This is one of my favourite food shops, and it is where I come to get food presents for French people. On the whole I have found the staff at the counters very helpful and knowledgeable. There can be long queues at the chechout sometimes though.
Tang Freres, 48 av Ivry, 75013.
the place to buy Chinese food, chopsticks etc. They also have an extensive
selection of Indian, Thai, Japanese and other oriental ingredients both
preserved and fresh.
The prices are incredibly cheap, so it is well worth the
trip, and there are many other Chinese/Vietnamese shops around. Tang Freres
also do the best take-away Chinese meals. Try the pork fillet, I have no idea
what it is called in either French or Chinese, I just point. They'll ask if you
want it sliced, so say yes, and it comes with a bag of sauce. You can never buy
too much, and it costs so little. The spare ribs are good
Verlet, 256 rue St. Honore, 75001.
This is where I buy my coffee. They have a very good range and their own blends are good too.
They will grind it for you if you wish. You can also sit and have a cup of
coffee and a cake. Their jams and extensive range of glace fruits are also very good.
Brulerie Maubert, 3 rue Monge, 75003.
Excellent coffee roasted on the premises, a large selection of teas, Tiptree jams including Little Scarlet (in my opinion the very best commercially made strawberry jam), and a cafe next door.
Ladurée, 75, Avenue des Champs Elysees, 75008.
THE place to get your macaroons. I had previously thought macaroons were
overrated, but not after eating them here. If you are ever in need of a gift
for someone French, or even non-French, and don't know what to get them, come
here and get one of their marvellous gift boxes.
Shopping in French for the non-French speaker
||Bon joor (soft
||Je voo dray (soft
|I'd like 100 g of
||Je voudrais cent
grammes de la champignon s'il vous plait.
||Je voo dray son
gram de la shom pin non seel voo play
||Est-ce que vous
||Es kuh vooz
|How much is
||Say com be
Open air markets - the best and freshest food in Paris
There will be an open-air market near where you live (see the list below), these
usually operate 2 or 3 mornings a week, and I highly recommend you visit them,
even if you are a little wary of buying anything at first. I fed my family for three
months with just the French above! When it comes to paying, they will show
you the ticket from the machine, so you can give them the money.
The stalls at these
open-air and covered markets are the smaller equivalents of the small specialized shops on the left.
You can find the best selection of olives and dried fruits, a wonderful range
of bread; stalls selling only mushrooms, 6 kinds of snails ready stuffed and
requiring only five minutes in the oven, home made brownies in 4 flavours,
stalls that sell only potatoes, or onions, as well as the more run-of-the-mill
fruit and vegetable stalls.
Most stall owners prefer you not to touch or handle
the produce, but other stalls offer you basket for you to select your own fruit and veg. So a
good guide is, if you see baskets, then pick your own, if not then ask.
stall owners are very friendly and keen to help, remember it is in their
interest that you buy and buy regularly, so don't be embarrassed by your
inadequate French, they will help you. The basic French you need to know is in the table above.
Covered and open air food markets by arrondissment
||Montorgueil, rue Montorgueil
||Enfants Rouges, 39 rue de Bretagne
||Maubert, Place Maubert
||Monge, Place Monge
||Port-Royal, in front of Port-Royal hospital
||Saint-Germain, 3 rue Mabillon
||Raspail, bd Raspail, rue de Cherche-Midi, rue Rennes
||Saxe-Breteuil, ave de Saxe, ave Segur, place de Breteuil
||Europe, 1 rue Corvetto
||Saint-Quentin, 85 bis Boullevard Magenta
||Alibert, rue Alibert, rue Claude Vellefaux
||Belleville, bd de Belleville
||Bastille, bd Richard-Lenoir, rue Amelot
||Beauvau-Saint-Antoine, rue d'Aligre and rue de Cotte
||Daumesnil, bd de Reuilly, rue de Charenton, rue Amelot, rue Saint-Sabin
||Cours de Vincennes, bd de Picpus, rue Netter
||Bobilot, rue Bobilot, rue de la Colonie
||Alesia, rue d'alesia
||Edgar-Quinet, bd Edgar-Quinet
||Convention, rue de la Convention, rue Alain Chartier, rue Abbe Groult
||Dupleix-Grenelle, bd Grenelle
||Saint-Charles, rue Saint-Charles, rue de Javel
||Passy, rue Bois-le-vent and rue Duban
||Auteuil, rue Auteuil, rue Donizetti, rue la Fontaine
||President Wilson, ave President Wilson
||Batignolles, 96 bis rue Lemercier
||Berthier, Porte d'Asnieres, bd Bertier
||La Chapelle, 10 rue de l'Olive
||Orano, bd Orano, rue de Mont-Cenis, rue Ordener
||Riquet, 42 rue Riquet
||Secretan, 46 rue Bouret, 33 ave Secretan
||Pyrenees, rue de l'Ermitage, rue de Menilmontant