The March of 3 Marchés

or the March of 3 Markets

The following is a description of a lovely long walk that will take you through some lively, wonderful parts of Paris and perhaps, if you're lucky, make you feel slightly Parisian as well.

Notes before starting:

  • To be undertaken on a Sunday. If not, there may be no markets.
  • Don't do this in the rain. It won't be any fun.
  • Start early, by 10 AM or so, otherwise the final market may be closing up by the time you arrive there. (They seem to start closing around 2 PM, more or less.)
  • Bring a map since I'd hate for you to get lost if the directions are a little confusing.
  • This is a long walk, but filled with (what I consider) very Parisian sights and has several Metro stops along the way at which you can give up and head "home".

The March:

Start at the Place de la Bastille (M° Bastille, lines 1,5,8) where you will find Marché #1 stretching for several blocks along the green median of the Boulevard Richard Lenoir. Loop through the market, being sure to observe the endless supplies of fresh produce, meats, cheese, fish, and wine interspersed with odd kitchen gadgets and cheap clothing. If you haven't had breakfast yet, now's a good time to grab a pain au chocolat or a brioche.

The end of your loop should bring you back to Place de la Bastille. Almost directly across the monument is the Port de l'Arsenal, a small off-shoot of the Seine filled with boats and barges. Proceed down the ramp at the edge of the Boulevard de la Bastille and walk along the water, enjoying the site of old men fishing along the water's edge. As you reach the end, climb up one of the staircases and head for the nearest bridge, to your south-east. This is the Pont d'Austerlitz.

Cross over the Point d'Austerlitz and head into the Jardin des Plants. Proceed down the stately rows and enjoy the order and majesty of this lovely botanical garden. At you approach the Museum of Natural History (Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle) at the end of the park, take the path off to your right that cuts between two giant greenhouses and wind your way out of the park at the NW exit at the corner of Rue Cuvier and Rue Linné.

From this corner, you should be facing Rue Lacépède. Proceed on Rue Lacépède until you arrive at Rue Monge. Turn left and head down Rue Monge to Place Monge and Marché #2. Though smaller than the market over in the Bastille, it's filled with similarly enticing foods and vendors and people out shopping. At this point, if you wish only to visit two markets, the Metro (M° Monge, line 7) is available to whisk you to another destination. But you risk missing the fun of Market #3 if you go now.

For those wishing to press on, continue down the Rue Monge until you reach the Rue Epée-de-Bois. Turn right and wander down this street until you reach Rue Mouffetard. Turn left and meander down the slight hill and into the glorious markets of Rue Mouffetard. Unlike the other two markets, this street features many permanent shops which open and expand out onto the street. Aromas of fish and cheese and meat blend in the air with the bustling sounds of transactions and purchases.

Mixed in with the many markets are restaurants and cafés where you can grab a bite to eat or partake in a restorative cup of coffee. At the base of the market, next to St. Médard church, we were lucky to stumble upon some sort of concert. Across from a lovely bubbling fountain, a woman was signing "Que sera sera" while people of all ages danced and many other observed. Somehow this struck me as exactly the thing Parisians would do while out on a Sunday at the market. Keep your eyes peeled for similar sights.

After your third and final market, you have two choices for metro stops: either continue south down Rue Mouffetard onto Avenue des Gobelins until you reach the large intersection with Boulevards Arago and Saint Marcel. There you will find M° Les Gobelins, line 7. Your other choice is to wander from Rue Mouffetard around onto Rue Censier and back up Rue Monge to the M° Censier-Daubenton, line 7 stop. Either way, your camara should be full of lovely photos and your stomach grumbling for something cooked up with all the lovely food you've just seen.

Route in full:

Place de la Bastille to Boulevard Richard Lenoir to Place de la Bastille to Boulevard de la Bastille across Pont d'Austerlitz to Jardin des Plantes to exit at corner of Rue Cuvier and Rue Linné to Rue Lacépède to Rue Monge to Rue Epée-de-Bois to Rue Mouffetard.