When all the museums are visited, palaces photographed, cabarets enjoyed, what will you do on a free Parisian Sunday afternoon? Shopping is excluded, because the majority of shops are closed on Sundays. Just like in any other part of the world, creative people will find the activities. Here’s one for you to consider.
12th arrondisment . . . Marché d’Aligre . . . a typical Parisian market. This is where you should head for a good diversity and delicious treats. The arrondisment is not a popular tourist destination, so you will need clear directions and a map. You can always ask the passers-by, but remember the wise words “If you want something done right, do it yourself!“
The market will open another door to real Paris. While the most famous attractions like the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower are also important, you won’t get a flavor of Parisian lifestyle without diving deeper into French stereotypes and understanding every detail of the culture.
In any case, a truly Parisian market doesn’t consist of only French products (although some stereotypes would make you expect that). Quite the contrary, they are very cosmopolitan. The items on sale come from different continents, even different continents. In this sense, you can observe the details of other cultures as well. By the way, this phenomenon can be noted in the majority of developed European countries. Diversity is always on the top list.
The market is really big in size. Moreover, you could say that there actually two markets in one place. The first one is open-air, the other one is inside a building. If you have enough time, visit both of them. If you have to choose between one of them, base your actions on the weather. If it’s sunny out (which is common mainly in Parisian summers), don’t miss the chance to stroll outside the market streets.
While the main products are associated with food, certain parts of the area host flea markets. However, you’ll see them only on special days. If you have visited the market on that lucky day, look around, there definitely are a lot of options for souvenirs. Clothing (don’t try to find the most famous brands), paintings, collectable, Parisian books, in a word, you’ll be able to find literally everything.
There is a very tiny aspect to look out for. Flea markets, as usual, put on sale not only unused, but also used items. These two types can co-exist in the same stand, so make sure to ask about the condition before buying.
Some items are supposed to be used. These include statues, decorated old keys, objects that have survived dozens of years, and so on. Frankly speaking, I never consider these items usable. They can be a good choice if you’re re-furnishing your house or have a collecting hobby, but, other than that, make sure the items you buy are brand new and useful. Otherwise, the market will be a total waste of money, which could be used in so many better ways.
Generally speaking, it might take 2-3 hours to walk the market. Although I tell you the estimated time, don’t consider it a rule. The timing depends on your walking pace, level of curiosity, and the shopping-list.
Cafes and Restaurants
There are many restaurants located in the area. As the stroll might take quite long (especially if you don’t have an exact to-buy-list), a cup of Parisian latte might refresh you. Take a time-off and enjoy the nearest cafe.
The best thing about them is that you can be sure about the freshness of the ingredients. After all, the market is only a few steps away.
Despite that, I would also not miss the chance to have a snack right in the market. Get an apple, or anything you want, the taste will be much better than in any cafe. There are special food stands that offer snacks made right in front of you.
Some sellers will let you try the product before buying it. So, can you imagine how fun cheese-shopping can turn out to be in Paris.You can also try the fruits and vegetables. If you like their taste and are satisfied with the freshness, go ahead and buy a few. Fruits are always a great snack in between sightseeing tours. Plus, they are also healthy.
It gets even better when you find out the prices, which are considerably low from supermarkets and other stores. If you’re traveling on budget and don’t want to spend too much money on food, this market is the best place to visit.
Even though this market is recommended for Sundays (9:00 am to 1:30 pm), it can be included in the weekday planning as well. If you’re short on time and have a busy agenda, weekdays are even more convenient as the market stays open the longest (till 7:30 pm). Don’t stop being attentive for pickpockets, especially during the peak hours, when the market is crowded.
A visit to Marché d’Aligre can be a source of great fun and new investments. Make sure to bring along your crazy friends and culture the Parisian open-air market traditions.