Paris is famous for its wonderful food markets that pop up in every arrondissement, but did you know that it also has wonderful specialty markets for everything from books to stamps to art? One of my favourite markets is the Flower Market located on Ile de la Cité, quite close to Notre Dame Cathedral. The Marché aux Fleurs has been supplying Parisians with all things floral since the early 1800s. It's incredible to walk through and wonder what it must have been like back then.
Flowers are a big deal in Paris. Most Parisians purchase fresh bouquets of cut flowers weekly, sometimes at a stand at the local food market, sometimes from one of the flower shops that seem to line every street in the city. For potted plants, however, most Parisians make their way to one of the flower markets in the city. The reason is simple: There is a wider variety than at the local florist, and the price is much lower at the flower market. Florists sell potted plants, but they specialize in cut flowers. Purchasing plants from most florists is considerably more expensive than at the market.
I spent a morning at the market a few weeks ago with my husband and two boys. We went down on a Sunday, when the flower market shares its space with the bird and small animal market. I'm not a personal fan of all those birds in cages, but my kids likes seeing the chickens and rabbits for sale, and it allowed me the freedom to shop for some flowers in peace!
The stalls are lined up in rows across several aisles and many are covered from direct sunlight. The shopkeepers lay their flowers out on graduated stands, and carry everything from the common daisy to the most exotic, hard to find flower variety.
Many have outdoor displays as well as indoor shop space where gardening accessories or more delicate varieties are kept. I was amazed at the sheer variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees on offer, as well as the number of herbs, fruit, and vegetable plants for sale as well.
Along with plants, the market is a great place to buy planters, bird feeders, garden and balcony accessories, seeds, dirt, and garden tools. The flower market is also a fantastic place to go for gardening advice, as each shopkeeper is knowledgeable about each variety they carry and the best way to keep them alive and healthy whether it's indoors, on a balcony, or in an outdoor plot.
We went home with two small evergreen trees to plant in our window box on the small balcony outside our bedroom, and made plans to return with our shopping buggy the next time so we can stock up on plants for the summer.
The Surrounding Area
The market is fairly large, but easy to navigate. It's centrally located, so it's easy to pop in for a bit before carrying on about your day. We took the kids to lunch right after at a brasserie located just across the square, called Cafe Brasserie Les Deux Palais, with a view over the Palais de Justice. The brasserie itself is worth a visit for its gorgeous interior, full of mirrors and golden decor. It's a short walk from the market to the Conciergerie, Saint-Chapelle, the bridges over the Seine, or Notre Dame Cathedral.
Marché aux fleurs- Reine Elizabeth II, 4th arrondissement
- Place Louis Lépine - Quai de la Corse - 75004
- Metro: Cite, RER-Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame
- Hours: Mon-Sat: 8am-7:30pm, Sun: 8am-7pm Sunday the bird market is also onsite.