In case you haven't heard, I have recently embarked on a mission to visit every market in Paris, or at least have fun trying! I have created a page dedicated to Paris Markets posts under the Paris tab above, where my market posts will be organized by neighbourhood. Though this is not the first market I've visited in Paris, it is the first I'll dedicate to my newfound endeavor.
The Saint-Eustache-Les-Halles market is located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, literally in the shadow of the magnificent Saint-Eustache church. The area around the market has, in the past, been a bit rundown and not considered completely safe at night, but it has undergone a remarkable transformation the past few years. There are brand new gardens and an incredible kids' playground in the park behind the church, and the whole area is under reconstruction. If you've avoided Les Halles in the past, it's worth giving it a second chance.
The market itself is quite small compared to some of the larger markets in the city, but it's also quite picturesque, located on a narrow pedestrianized part of the road and surrounded by other interesting shops and restaurants. What I also really liked about this market was how friendly the vendors all were. I visited with my husband and kids on a Sunday morning, and since we arrived while mass was going on in the church, the market wasn't too busy. Every vendor had a smile and a sample for the kids, and we were able to take our time shopping. Since it's not a giant market, the kids made it all the way through without getting bored.
There were several fruit and vegetable stands, some cheese, meat, and fish stands, a few non-food stalls, and several stalls selling prepared foods, from simple roast chicken and potatoes to traditional crepes and specialties from Argentina, Greece, the Antilles, and more. The crepe stand was from Bretagne, and they offered traditional buckwheat crepes which are naturally gluten free. We bought each of the kids one filled with chocolate sauce, and also purchased a bottle of apple cider for later.
For lunch we purchased a whole roast chicken and potatoes, which are typically cooked in the fat that drips from the chicken as it roasts. Since the vendors are the ones who prepare the food fresh, they know what is in each dish. Both the chicken and the potatoes were gluten free and safe for my son to eat. Next time I visit I want to buy some of the Greek dishes as well as a few Island specialties, although the vendor from Guadeloupe at my local market spoils me with treats on a regular basis! We also came home with some fresh fruit, dried fruit, and olives, which are always a favourite at my house.
Located just steps from the metro, this market is conveniently located and easy to navigate. It is rather small, however, so I suggest planning a visit to some of the surrounding attractions as well to make the trip worthwhile.
The Surrounding Area
The Les Halles area of Paris has undergone a massive reinvention the last few years, and as a result there are several things to see and do. If shopping is something you enjoy, there is an underground mall attached to the metro station. There is also a huge theatre located in the mall.
In my opinion, the biggest attraction is the church and the gardens behind it. Saint-Eustache is an enormous cathedral that is often overlooked by tourists, but shouldn't be. The outside is imposing and in my opinion, as beautiful as Notre Dame. The inside is the real treat though, as it is lighter and airier than Notre Dame, but still as intriguing. My only word of advice is to try and visit when mass isn't taking place, as it limits which areas you can visit and of course, interrupts a religious ceremony. There is a large statue of a head with a giant hand resting on the ear called "The Listener" which children love to climb, for some reason.
Across from the church is the Nelson Mandela Gardens, with large walkways flanked by flowers and grass. If you're travelling with children, the Nelson Mandela Park is a large playground with an artificial soccer turf, rock climbing areas, and plenty of play equipment for kids. Being France, there are several rules regarding the operating hours and ages of children allowed inside. During some times, parents are not even allowed to enter and city employees take children aged 7-11 through an hour long exploration of the area. To avoid all that, arrive between 10am and 1pm on Sundays, when the park is open to families and there is no age restriction enforced. If the equipment is too sophisticated for younger children, there is a smaller park located right behind it dedicated for children up to age 6.
The streets neighbouring the market are interesting as well, and offer some great shopping and dining experiences, including the iconic La Poule au Pot and Au Pied de Cochon, which are pretty much Paris landmarks! If you follow the park or the street market to behind the round Bourse building, you'll find yourself on Rue du Louvre, which leads directly to the Louvre in less than a ten minute walk. Definitely a great way to spend a morning or an afternoon in the heat of the city.
- Saint-Eustache-Les-Halles Market, 1er arrondissement
- Rue Montmartre, between Rue Rambuteau and Rue du Jour
- Metro: Les Halles (This metro stop is gigantic, and you have to walk through an underground mall to exit. Regardless of which exit you take, locate the church and make your way toward it. The market runs the length of one side.)
- Open: Thursday 12:30-8:30pm, Sunday 7:00-7:00pm