The Saxe-Breteuil market starts at Place de Breteil and stretches to Avenue de Segur. There is no more lovely setting, as it is framed by the Eiffel Tower and the Invalides. Farmers and producers come from all over France to sell their specialties and this market is known for its high quality foods, including many organic ones..
How to get there:
Take the metro to Ecole Militaire or La Motte Piquet. The Ecole Militaire is the beautiful building at the opposite end of the Champ de Mars from the Eiffel Tower. It's a beautiful, classically styled building where Napoleon attended military school. If you walk in front, you can still see the marks where exploding shells hit the building in WWI.
Walk directly behind the Ecole Militiare and you will see the tree-lined Ave. de Saxe in front of you. Walk a block further to find the stalls lining the street. An important note is that almost all Parisian open markets have a system of covers to protect your head in case of rain, so don't let the weather turn you away.
We recently went there on a Saturday morning and came back with our shopping trolley full. We were having friends to dinner. It was a cold day, so we decided to start with a green salad with melted chevres goat's cheese on artichoke hearts, prepare fresh fish with ratatouille as our main dish, then cheese and baguette and a tarte au pomme for dessert.
The shopping trip to the Saxe Breteuil market was part of the fun! We started with our favorite fishmonger on the left. There are several excellent fishmongers who come from Normandy and Brittany in the morning; we have been going to one of them for years. Their displays are fun and tempting; the fish is fresh. He recommended a large 'bar' which we would cover with rock salt, the 'sel de Guerande; and bake whole; moist and delicious.
We found a beautiful display of fresh flowers piled high on a stand nearby. We asked the owner to put together a bouquet and hold until we were ready to go. As with most of the other merchants here, the farmer and her son grow their own flowers and vegetables and drive to Paris to sell them.
There were beautiful, firm red and yellow peppers at one stand, with courgettes and salad greens at another. Artichokes had just come into season and we bought 8 of the biggest artichokes we have ever seen; they were almost a meal in themselves! Our shopping trolley became full very quickly.
We stopped at a stand to talk to a woman from Toulouse. She 6 hours from Toulouse every week to sell her confit de canard and other specialties from the region. Her dishes are delicious and excellent to have on hand for last minute dinners.
There are at least 5 cheese merchants at the market and we buy from several of them, since some specialize in goat's cheeses and others in roquefort's and hard cheeses. Their displays are mouth-watering and the merchants let you sample their products before you biuy.
For dessert: one of the most well-known stands is of a farmer who specializes in apples. She always carries at least 7 kinds and will advise you on the best ones to choose for each dish. We bought her favorite apples for tarte tatin and also some sweet apples for munching on during the week. She also sells apple cider made from her various 'crus' of apples.
For hors d'hoeuvres, we visited the merchant who claims to sell black and green olives which are prepared in 40 different ways, with special oils, stuffings and accompaniments. He had us try some of his tapenade vert and noir and we were sold. You can also buy grilled peppers and aubergines, 10 different kinds of salads and more which start a good picnic lunch.
Parisians have been coming for decades and the discussion and banter between vendors and customers is delightful, ranging from questions on how the roast tasted last week to requests for the same kind of fish/pears/salad/chevre/St. Felicien they bought last time.
The Saturday market is bigger than the one on Thursdays, so try to go on both days and definitely go early!
For a future vacation idea, you may want to explore open air markets in Italy as well. For Italy Apartments and Rentals we recommend ItalyPerfect.com, with a large selection of personally inspected apartments and homes in Italy. Honest company that carefully selects and evaluates their apartments. Lots of tips and advice when you book.