You have to, have to go to the giant market at Motte-Piquet, just steps away from the Eiffel Tower. It’s the best, largest market in Paris.
The Motte-Piquet/Grenelle Market is located in the residential 15th arrondissement that abuts the Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower. Because the market is located in a largely residential area, the prices are really reasonable and the variety of items offered is amazing. Fruits. Vegetables. Sausages. French house slippers. Pate. Mushrooms. Mops. Cheeses. Honey. The Works.
The market happens only on Sunday and Wednesday mornings. A lot of the choicest stuff is gone before noon, but some merchants will hang around a bit later than noon to finish selling their wares if you had a late night in Paris before market days.
Pick up items for a picnic outdoors at the nearby Champ de Mars, and/or buy some authentic, handmade gifts for people back home.
Regardless of what you purchase at the market, you will definitely come away with some real local color and a tangible understanding of the artisanal nature of French food. (Many of the producers come from Normandy and other regions surrounding Paris, so it’s also a good way to sample other areas’ delicacies.)
If you don’t speak French, just launch your most sincere “bonjours” and “mercis,” and be prepared to play some charades to help the merchant ascertain your desires. Communicating, “I’d like a much smaller melon” solely with your hands to a kindly French merchant is all part of the fun.
When dealing with produce at this market or even in some shops, the merchants will often ask you, “Pour aujourd’hui?” which means, “For today?” If you want to consume what you’re buying right away so that it’s at its peak of freshness, answer, “Oui.” You’ll get produce that’s ripe for the eating now. If you’re planning on eating the fruits/veggies later, answer, “Non” and they will give you produce that will attain perfect ripeness in a day or two.
You have to love a culture with that kind of attention to detail. Visiting this 15th arrondissement market is a great way to see a normal Parisian neighborhood where real people live, shop, and eat.
Metro: Motte-Picquet Grenelle (Lines 6, 8, and 10) (The metro goes above ground over here, and the market is under the elevated metro tracks.)