One of my favorite activities so far in Paris has been visiting the Marché Bastille (Bastille Market). Located in the Place de la Bastille, this market is one of the largest in Paris, featuring rows and rows of vendors selling fresh produce, meats and cheeses, baked goods, knick knacks, and mountains of flowers! This was my first visit to a large market, so I wandered with a friend up and down every aisle of booths, taking photos, before deciding what to purchase. Marché Bastille is open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 7:00am-3:00pm, but Frenchies are never on time, so I should have known not to show up early! We arrived at 7:30am and everyone was still setting up, so we left to get breakfast and came back around 8:30am and things were just getting started. By 10:00am, it was starting to get crowded with locals, so I'm glad we arrived when we did.
Things to bring: reusable bag(s) to carry your goods, and cash. Many vendors now take cards, but may have a minimum spend requirement, so cash is still the easiest way to pay.
Things to know: Paris speaks a lot more English than it did 9 years ago when I last visited, but making an effort to speak some French goes a long way. Always start with Bonjour and end with Merci. If you look like a tourist, they will most likely speak to you in English right away, but still appreciate your effort.
I must have taken 100 photos of this foral booth alone- these mountains of peonies were gorgeous and a bundle of 5 stems was only 8 euros (versus one stem in the US for $8!). I bought a fresh bundle and carried them around with me the whole day because they were too pretty to put down!
We purchased a few items for a picnic: baguettes, cheeses, fresh butter, and some cherries and apricots. What a feast! I have been scared to try a lot of cheese, becuase I'm not a huge fan of stinky cheeses, but I knew the market was the perfect place to try some new ones. I had a few samples and bought two new cheeses (hooray!) but my favorite thing I bought was the fresh butter. The fromageries sell butter in addition to cheese, so ask for salé buerre (salted butter) and watch them carve out your section of butter from a huge block...I don't know why this was so exciting for me, but I really enjoyed ordering butter.
I love how boulangers wrap their bread and pastries, a little parchment paper, give it a twist, et voilà! Carrying around baguettes in my tote bag made me look like a local and I had more strangers come up to me speaking French than ever before! So the key to fitting in is to carry a baguette- now you know. If you're planning a trip to Paris, I highly recommend visiting a local market one morning to buy your picnic supplies!