A guide to some of Paris's best markets

Thursday, 8 March 2012 5:29 PM

We all know Paris is something of a shopper's paradise but if you want a retail therapy experience with a difference, make sure you check out some of the city's markets. They're incredibly varied, selling everything from art and jewellery to food and flowers.

Here are just a few of the markets you should try and visit during your short break in Paris.

Marche aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux
Where: Ile de la Cite
When: Sunday, although the flower market is there all week

This is technically two markets, but as they're held at the same place on different days, it makes sense to talk about them together! The less exciting of the two is the flower market, which is open Monday to Saturday every week.

However, Sunday is the best time to visit as the flower stalls are joined by the bird market, where you can see all manner of exotic winged creatures, as well as a few other critters, all in one place. It gets busy, so it's best to arrive first thing in the morning to make the most of wandering among the stands before it gets too crowded.

Marche aux puces de la portes de Vanves
Where: Saint-Germain-des-Pres/Musee d'Orsay/Montparnasse
When: Saturday and Sunday

This is the only second-hand market in the centre of Paris, where you'll find all manner of things from bric-a-brac to beautiful antiques. More than 350 stallholders gather each weekend to ply their wares, making this an excellent place to come if you love nothing more than hunting for a bargain.

You really will find everything here, including furniture, paintings, military memorabilia, glassware and books, to give you a brief overview. Plan to spend a bit of time exploring - it's not a market to rush!

Marche de la Creation Paris Bastille
Where: Republique/Bastille
When: Saturday

As the biggest weekly art market in Paris, this is a must-visit if you're a fan of all things creative. Over 200 artists flock here each week, so you'll certainly have plenty to look at. This is a fantastic spot to come to if you just want to window shop, as you'll essentially be viewing a massive exhibition as you stroll down the street.

Paintings, ceramics, textiles, jewellery, photographs, engravings and sculptures all have their place on the market, so you'll find something that catches your eye.

Marche de la Creation de Paris Montparnasse
Where: Montparnasse
When: Sunday

For a trip through an artistic marketplace on a smaller scale, head to Montparnasse on a Sunday, when around 120 artists set up shop to exhibit and sell their work. One of the nicest things about the stands here is that no re-sellers are allowed - that means you'll be buying directly from the artist, lending a much more personal touch to the whole process.

It's a relatively new market by Parisian standards - it first opened in 1994 - but it's now well-established and popular, so take a stroll and see if you can find a unique souvenir.

Marche bio des Batignolles
Where: Champs-Elysees/Louvre
When: Saturday

No tour around Paris's markets would be complete without a stop at one of its food-themed events and Marche bio des Batignolles is a great choice, as vendors only sell organic produce. As a result, the only fruit and veg you'll find are those in season, while there are a host of tasty treats like cheeses, antipasti and jams to try.

You'll also be able to pick up products like olive oil, soap and flowers on sale, so there's plenty of variety to keep you amused.

If you want your short break in Paris to involve visiting some - or even all - of these markets, be sure to choose a hotel that is centrally located so you can make the most of your time. A website like HostelBookers can help you find the best deals on accommodation in the city.

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