Relive Paris’ oldest covered market rich in diverse food options at Marché des Enfants Rouges.
Wandering around le Marais district, Pat and I stumbled across one of the best markets in Paris, Marché des Enfants Rouges, or the red children’s market. It’s name is inspired by an orphanage that used to be located next door to the market where all the kids used to dress in red coats and capes. Marché des Enfants Rouges is the oldest covered market in Paris opened in 1615 in the third arrondissement of le Marais. It was getting close to lunch time and the smell from the market made mine and Pat’s stomachs grumble. We decided to check out what the best market in Paris was all about.
Limited Seating Inside
Marché des Enfants Rouges may look small from the outside, but is actually packed with vendors, food and flower stands, restaurants, and bars in the maze-like market pavilion. The center of the market is lined with restaurants that offer limited bar stool seating with approx. 6 chairs per stand, so you either wait or grab a bite to go.
Fun fact: Marché des Enfants Rouges was officially considered a historical monument in Paris in 1982.
Ample Seating On the Borders
While the quick grab-and-go and bar-like stands pack the inside of the market, the outskirts and corners of the market are run by restaurants. The restaurants have the most seating and space. If you are lucky, snag one of these four person tables lined on the corners and walls of Marché des Enfants Rouges. Elegant street lamps line the sides accompanied by vivid wooden doors and plants added for decoration. It feels like a small Aix-en-Provence oasis.
Types of Food
The market offers a variety of food options, not only French food, including Moroccan food, East Asian, American burgers (made with regional French ingredients), and more. Stop by for a glass of wine if you’re not hungry or purchase some fresh food and flowers for your romantic dinner in your apartment or AirBnb that evening. The opportunities are endless. Although there were plenty of exotic options available I was in France so was on the lookout for french cuisine.
Where to Eat: Chez Alain Miam Miam
A long line formed behind a stall. All I could see or read was an old school sign above the workers head that read “pains…crêpes blinis…sandwich” or in english “bread…buckwheat crêpes …sandwich.” That was more along the lines of what we were looking for. I couldn’t see past the long line, but was able to take a peak at the massive sandwiches and crêpes people were leaving with. You definitely have to come hungry if you plan on eating here. I got in line knowing this would be a good choice. The stall was called Chez Alain Miam Miam, in English that translates to “With Alain Yum Yum”–and yum yum it was indeed.
The chefs behind the stall greeted us cheerfully and gave us recommendations as we pieced together our meals. Pat ordered a sandwich while I ordered a buckwheat galette. While making our meals the guys started a friendly conversation with us to pass the time. What was unique about Chez Alain Miam Miam’s sandwiches in particular were that they were grilled on the crêpe pan…so strange! When the cheese for both of our meals is perfectly melted, they’re snuggly wrapped and tucked away into some paper and ready for us to take away.
What’s the difference between a galette and a crêpes?
Let’s start with how they are similar–they are both pancake-like in nature. The difference is that galettes are usually savory with cheese, eggs, ham and made with buckwheat flour. Think of like an egg sandwich, but with a pancake instead of a roll or bagel.
ettes and Crepes are what English speakers call pancakes. Crêpes on the other hand are sweet, made with a pancake-like batter, and are usually filled with nutella, sugar, jams etc.
The down-side to Chez Alain Miam Miam is that because of it’s location in the middle of Marché des Enfants Rouges, it does not have any seating. That wasn’t a problem for Pat and I though who wandered the market through the flower stalls and admired as French people enjoyed their long 2 hour lunches while we chowed down on our very hot and savory meals. Remember to buy a bottle of water, you’ll need it to quench the thirst post-meal!
Location: 39 rue de Bretagne – 75003 Paris
Market Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 8.30am-7.30pm; Sunday: 8.30am-2pm.
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