Market Scene: Bastille Market in Paris

[Photographs: Clay Williams]

Last month, my wife and I celebrated our anniversary in Paris, living like locals for a few weeks in an apartment in the 10th arrondissement. In Paris, where fresh produce and meat markets abound, having a kitchen and ample opportunity to cook in it make skipping out on hotel life seriously worth it. On both Sunday mornings we were there, I was up at first light to make my way to the market at the Bastille to wander, snack, and look for something delicious to cook for dinner that night.

Paris has dozens of outdoor markets, most open one or two days a week, featuring between five and fifty stands selling produce, breads, cheeses, meats, and flowers in every shape, size, and color. Each stand specializes in a particular item, and producers are often on hand to help customers select the best of their wares.

Americans may be confused to see clearly non-local items like tomatoes, citrus, and Candaian lobsters on sale. The vendors at the city markets are not farmers, but local shopkeepers who source their meat and produce from Rungis, the large wholesale market that replaced the famous Les Halles some forty years ago.

The market at Bastille is among the largest in the city. Open on Thursdays and Sundays, it draws a huge crowd, so get there early and whatever you do, don't touch anything! (At Parisian markets, it's customary for the seller to select and bag individual items.)

Click through to the slideshow to see what's for sale at the Bastille market in Paris.