For the past three years, my Saturday ritual has almost unfailingly included a visit to Marché Batignolles. One of three exclusively organic markets in the city (Marché Raspail and Marché Brancusi are the other two), Marché Batignolles has become one of my favorite spots to spend a Saturday morning in Paris. While I love my neighborhood market, Marché Ornano for farm fresh fruits and vegetables, the organic market is great for picking up everything else- from certified free range eggs to artisanal cheeses, locally milled flour and organic olives.
I always start my visit off at the western end of the market, with a stop at the Au Val du Coutant stand. The Val du Coutant farm, which is located just outside of Paris, specializes in a variety of locally grown vegetables, providing a distinct selection of what is truly in season at the moment. The friendly vendor, who more often than not has a glass of wine in her hand by noon, is always happy to give advice on how to prepare your blettes (Swiss Chard) or betteraves (beets).
After I’ve stocked up on my veggies for the week, I make my way to the next stand, where Hermione Boehrer sells an assortment of fresh herbs, baby greens, potted plants, and wheatgrass. My cat looks forward to the new pot of herbe à chat that I buy from Hermione every week, and I am equally excited about a fresh-pressed juice and a bouquet of fresh herbes for myself. Hermione also sells organic potting soil that is great for balcony and windowsill gardens.
The next stop on my tour du marché is usually at the Le Galatin stand, where I wait patiently in line for one of their beloved potato pancakes. Simple yet oddly addicting, the potato and onion patties are delicious hot off the grill and make for a perfect on-the-go market snack. Galette de pomme de terre in hand I work my way through my shopping list.
Michel Beucher is next on my route, for fresh pressed apple juice or cider. A stop at this stand could very likely end with a song, or two, sung by Michel himself. This serenading orchard owner delights in sharing his love of his métier, often in musical form. My favorites include his unfiltered apple juice and his song dedicated to the beauty of springtime and the apple harvest.
Lastly I make my way to the end of the market, where freshly laid eggs from the La Ferme du Nohain are sold in three sizes by the half or full dozen. This sweet family farm stand is the only place I will buy eggs in the city and, given the crowds that flock here every week, I don’t think I’m alone.
Food is obviously very important to me, and I spend a good part of my time in Paris seeking out the best sources for quality, locally-grown produce. While organic means a lot to me as far as assuring a certain standard of production, what I really appreciate about Marché Batignolles is that it’s not only a place where I can buy good food, but also directly support a local farmer. So many of the city’s markets have seen their farmers disappear, and this is one of the most overlooked, and unfortunate, changes that the neighborhood marchés have experienced over the years.
Emily Dilling is the creator of Paris Paysanne, a popular blog which chronicles her explorations of Paris markets. She is constantly on the look-out for local farmers and independent producers, which can often be difficult to locate between the stands of imported, bulk produce. But they do exist! From classy markets in the 16th arrondissement to the city’s newest market in the outer reaches of the 14th, independent farmers still make the trek into the city to sell their freshly harvested fruits and vegetables. In order to more easily find locally-grown produce, Dilling created a map of farmers at Paris markets which is updated constantly. If you know of a farmer at a market that isn’t yet on the map, please contact her. Her goal is to help shoppers find the freshest produce available as well as have direct contact with the person growing their food. Follow Paris Paysanne on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for her monthly newsletter.