Covered Food Markets in Paris
(All the photos are from La Chapelle)
Besides tracking down the secret corners of Paris, or the quiet gardens, or the angels on buildings, my husband and I also love to find new markets, both covered and outdoors. Food is such an integral part of a culture and any of these markets give us a glimpse, and taste, of part of the life of Paris in the different neighborhoods.
The old downtown Les Halles was demolished in the 1970s and the market moved to Rungis, and since then there has been no main central food market in Paris. But flourishing covered markets, many historic, serve neighborhoods all over city. These markets, marchés, serve many purposes: they sell a huge array of cheeses, charcuterie, meats, fish, wines, bread, fruits and vegetables; they are a great place to meet your friends and neighbors and to get to know special vendors; and they usually have stalls where people can eat casual meals or buy dishes to take home. Lots of these are run by vendors originally from other countries, so it’s a good introduction to the multi-ethnic face of Paris.
I wrote about the Saint Quentin Covered Market before. See here:
On one of our more recent trips to Paris we made a point of taking the metro (line 12 to Marx Dormay) to find and visit the La Chapelle Covered Food Market,often just called “Marché d’Olive” because it’s on the rue d’Olive. It was well worth the effort, an undiscovered delight for most tourists and visitors to Paris I think.
La Chapelle(which means “the chapel”) is one of Paris’s great examples of a covered market, I think smaller than Saint Quentin, but still a fun place to visit. The friendly and obliging vendors offer quality items and a good selection, but the other main attraction is the actual building. Designed by French architect Auguste-Joseph Magne(1816-1885) in the Baltard style, it opened in 1885. Victor Baltard(1805-1874) was a French architect whose best-known work was the old Les Halles. His biggest innovation was to use a glass and iron umbrella-shaped roof that maximized light and ventilation.
After extensive renovations that took great care to preserve the original architectural elements (took more than 2 years, and the merchants had their stalls outside during that period), La Chapelle reopened in September 2010.
The market building is in a paved pedestrian plaza just off Boulevard Marx Dormay (18tharrondissement). This vibrant, largely West African, neighborhood is becoming more fashionable, and the streets around the market have many wine bars, and cafes springing up. On the outside, the walls are covered in pale orange mortar, divided into large rectangles separated by iron framing. Inside, a soaring ceiling, lacy cast-iron supports, tall columns and wide aisles do, indeed, give a feeling of a chapel. Natural light pours in through a glass light well that runs almost the full length of the pavilion roof.
The newly-refurbished stalls are very welcoming and you can find all the typical market items, such as cheeses, meats, pates, fish, fruits and vegetables. I really enjoyed looking at all the wonderful vegetables, the cheese and the foie gras stalls. My husband always makes a beeline for the fish stalls!
We also noticed a couple of eateries, some with seating. This northeastern Paris neighborhood is a vibrant multicultural one (especially West African and Caribbean countries), so some of the eateries and stalls reflect this.
Address: 10, rue d’Olive (18th), Metro: Marx Dormay
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 8am-7.30pm; Saturday,
9am-1pm; Sunday, 8am-1.30pm. Closed Monday.