Liberté, Egalité, Crème Brûlée
Every Tuesday and Friday morning, from roughly 7am til 1pm, the Belleville market ("le marché de Belleville") takes place. Starting roughly from metro Ménilmontant and continuing past Couronnes to Belleville metro station, this is one of the focal points of my week.
The market sells everything you could want - fruit and veg, fish, cheese, herbs and spices, clothing and bric-a-brac etc - at incredibly low prices.
If you time your visit right - I believe it gets cheaper later in the morning - you can buy two large lettuces for 1 euro, 2 kilos of tomatoes for 1 euro, and 1 euro per kilo of oranges and clementines (and if your luck is really in that day, the lovely man will put some extras in your bag too!)
Today I bought my usual (8 oranges and 2 lemons) plus some extras: some very fresh carrots still with mud on, a couple of courgettes, a bunch of bananas, a fresh mint plant and a jasmine plant for my balcony.
I love the sing song of the market - it's almost like the human version of the cuckoo call: "servez-vous! servez-vous!" is answered by the neighbouring trader trying to attract your attention: "un euro, un euro..." There's such a mix of languages, dialects, but even though you may only have a couple of words in common with which to get your point acress, their earnestness to prove how fresh and tasty their produce is, and giving you tips for how to cook it, wins through.
You have to be quick though - no tarrying around - because if you do, somebody else's elbow will make it very apparent that you have been lingering for too long!
Also, to say that there's not very much space would be putting it mildly. By all means take your caddy (I have a hot pink coloured one!) but try practising some manoeuvres with it before you go and also learn from my mistake and promise me you won't go to the market wearing open-toed sandals! *Ouch!*
Finally, if you are trying to immerse yourself as much as possible into the Parisian way of life, it seems the done thing is to stop off to meet a friend in a nearby café once you've done all your shopping before returning home.
And I couldn't resist taking a photo of these brightly-coloured spices:
If that's making you want to find your local Parisian market, click here for a very useful webpage.