A Sunday In Paris

The biggest allure of a visit to France for me is her array of neighbourhood markets. And Paris is undoubtedly a mecca for market enthusiasts, boasting more than 80 of them, some covered and permanent, and most temporary roving markets  – called marchés volants – sprouting up a few days a week.

Our Sunday morning starts with a short metro ride to Cité – the island from where the first Celtic settlement grew into Roman Lutetia. And later, very much later, into the metropolis as we know it today.

The earliest recorded markets were located here, with income from taxes on produce, shared proportionately by the King and Bishop of the time.  In 1322 legislation was passed specifying their working hours. And by the 14th century these specialist markets became an intrinsic part of French society, as deduced by the shopping list provided in Le Menagier de Paris, ‘a good wife’s guide‘ written by a 60 year old man for his 14 year old bride!!

Just above the Cité station is the Marché aux fleurs, that is said to have continuously existed for 200 years! On Sundays this transforms into a bird market – Marché aux Oiseaux – whose frantic, shrieking little birds in cages are more tragic than pleasing. So we hurry on to another market in the Bastille area.

Steps away from the Colonne de Juillet, the Marché Bastille, doesn’t disappoint. Stretching several blocks into boulevard Richard Lenoir, almost up to the Bréguet Sabin stop, this market is quintessentially French. Bursting with colour and convivial chatter. Filled with effortlessly elegant people. And their dogs! And stalls laden with delicious, honest, heartwarming food.

We regret the early hour. Too early for lunch anyway. But it is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of local life. The interactions of regulars with their favourite vendors and the smiling, chatty vendors themselves. (Incidentally, we are yet to met a snooty Parisian. )

Next neighbourhood stop: OberKampf. For coffee and millefeuille at Jacques Genin. If you haven’t tasted Genin’s millefeuille, (apologies for demolishing half of it before I remembered my camera.) you need to get on that flight to Paris NOW.

And for his melt in the mouth caramels. Divine doesn’t begin to describe them. Be warned though. That coffee doesn’t come cheap. Take-out might be a good idea if you are conserving euros, but getting to use the swank toilet kind of evens it out for me.

A short stroll down rue Charlot and we are on rue de Bretagne at the nondescript entrance to Marché couvert des Enfants Rouges, named after an orphanage whose little inmates once wore red uniforms. Reputed to be the oldest surviving market in Paris, this is a smaller, covered market open six days a week, with space for sit down meals.

Our Moroccan chicken and couscous is made more enjoyable by the lively local Sunday brunch crowd, but we can’t seem to get those poulet roti’s and potatoes out of our heads. This day should ideally have been planned in reverse. But we had been worried about missing out on people watching at the Bastille market if we went too late.

With dessert and lunch out of the way, we walk past the lovely little Square du Temple to the Musée des Arts et Métiers. A delightful treasure trove of the earliest scientific instruments, mechanics, transport and computation objects. Even an original model of the Statue of Liberty by Auguste Bartholdi! And yet another replica of Foucault’s Pendulum (Just can’t seem to figure out where the original is!)

Next on to the whimsical metro stop of the same name just outside the entrance….

….and off at the next for a panoramic view of the city from atop the Beaubourg Museum, also known as the Centre Georges Pompidou.

The Picassos, Kadinskys, Matisses do not disappoint either.

Then back again on the metro to our hotel near Saint Paul for much needed rest and freshening up, before an enchanting concert inside this Gothic chapel, surrounded by stunning, iridescent stained glass.

We didn’t do too badly did we?

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

56 thoughts on “A Sunday In Paris

  1. What a stunning trip you had indeed Madhu. Everything so colourful and you are right, those caged animals does look sad indeed. Thanks for a lovely tour and for sharing these gorgeous shots hon. Much appreciated. 😀 *hugs*

  2. I would have been curious about the bird market, but think the squawking would have gotten to me pretty quick. Thanks for the heads up. 🙂

    We enjoyed the Bastille market more than once. Your pictures brought it all back. I’d almost forgotten about that city gem.

  3. Ummm – sounds just wonderful, Madhu – everything, though you know – those delicate oh so fresh summer squash are the images that linger, I wonder why? What a day 🙂

  4. Paris is a lovely city and the street food is great. Here in Central Scotland we only get a chance to sample the continental food at the Christmas markets in Glasgow and Edinburgh and during the Edinburgh Festival.

    Church buildings have wonderful stained glass which usually tells stories from the Bible. The chapel above has some wonderful stained glass.

  5. This was just lovely! The pictures really transported me to a faraway place. I wish we had such a vibrant market culture here. And I want that mille feuille so badly!!

  6. What a delightful day spent in such atmospheric and historic surroundings. I can taste the pastries now and hear the lovely concert. Thanks for transporting me there. Maybe Lisa’s magic carpet can make a stop there next time. 🙂

  7. This looks like a foodie paradise and those stained glass windows, oh my. How fabulous to attend a concert in this setting.

  8. what a fabulous day Madhu … you made the most of every moment! our son lives just by the Bastille markets so we are always there when in Paris … so lovely to see all that hustle and bustle again … we are not going over this year, not until early next year … then i will check out some of your favourite haunts too 🙂

  9. Oh Madhu, this was such a beautiful entry to read first thing on a Saturday morning! That millefeulle reminds me of the pastries I had in Paris back in February 2006 – my mother and I were content with buying a box (in place of a sit-down meal) after seeing the Renoirs and Monets at the Musee d’Orsay. Being winter, there were few visitors and we could slowly amble between all those impressionist masterpieces. And I do remember the glory of Sainte-Chapelle, with its star-studded blue ceiling! Thanks for taking us along to the markets and more. 🙂

  10. Impressive post, amazing captured photos… 🙂

    Wonder if there be any food left for me
    when I visit Paris next monday… “hahaha”

  11. Simply another fantastic Blog! Your photos are so clear ! I am also leaving especially hungry thanks to your delightful header Madhu!

  12. You have to find a way of packing me up within your baggage on your next Paris trip. Your post here captures the city in a completely different light – I must see it thru your eyes… and your little historical grabs, totally clinch it for me. Great great post, Madhu!

  13. That’s Lovely Madhu 🙂 It has made me want to visit Paris again – I obviously missed so much!! Have to confess to spending too much time in the Lourve (would move in there if I could!). Maybe I could squeeze a weekend in this winter 🙂

  14. I’ve only visited Paris once for merely 2 days! I know I missed a lot, but this post convinced me to go back there one day. That millefeuille looks heaven and probably will be the first thing I look for on my next visit! However I’m quite surprised to know that there’s a bird market in Paris because in my opinion they are much happier in the wild. I thought there’s some kind of legislation forbidding such practice. Anyway, lovely pictures Madhu! I really love how you captured the vibrant colors of the markets.

  15. WAIT A SECOND! … I’ve been to Paris TWICE and never been to a market! And there are 80? Shameful! Now I must return! Thanks a lot, Madhu! 😉

  16. This was really an amazing post to read ! Love the colorful pictures and Specially the picture of food at the top of your blog 😉 You know food always tempts me 😉 Enjoyed my stay a lot here ! 🙂

  17. Great post! Markets are the be all and end all of trips for me. Absolutely love discovering weird and wonderful fruit and veg, gazing at bowls swelling with glistening olives, and perpetually snacking on delish bread. Can’t wait to dip into the South American market scene!

  18. The market would be my first stop. I love doing things where the locals are when I vacation. You showcased this market in your photos perfectly. I would love one of those sunflowers. They look happy and bright. Fresh flowers would be in every space I could could a bunch. Thanks for posting this exceptional time you had. It is very generous of you to share.

  19. Madhu, thanks for this tour of Paris. I see her through your words and photos which are both lovely and informative. 🙂

  20. Wow, beautiful Paris, nice to be back. 🙂 To see, taste and smell this beauty, thank you, Madhu. ♥
    Love Dina

  21. Catching up on your Paris posts…what a perfect Sunday. I’m all about getting up early…don’t want to miss a thing!

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