Paris' outdoor markets are generally local affairs, with farmers bringing their own produce to the big city once or twice a week. Every market has their own version of a "supermarket stall," but you can tell from the perfectly shiny, out of season produce -- sometimes with stickers on it -- which one is the culprit to avoid. That being said, you can even do one better by attending one of Paris' organic street markets, or marchés bios.
Bio is the French term for organic: short for biologique, biois slowly starting to become a fad, and street markets catering to Parisians who want to by organic instead of just local are popping up all over the city.
Marché bio des Batignolles - 17e
Far away in the northern 17th lies the Batignolles market, one of my personal favorites. Every Saturday, you can attend the organic market at the local marketplace from 9am to 2pm, which hardly gives you enough time to explore every nook and cranny. Farmers are eager to talk about their produce and products, so bring a French-speaking friend and ask about the organic goat cheese from the Ferme de Bréviande, the doubly-certified organic (in both Italy and France) olive oil and balsamic vinegar and the variety of seaweeds from Algue-Service.
Even at the Batignolles market, you'll find the "supermarket stall" touting organic produce from as far as Argentina and Mexico, but most of the farmers are happy to wait for seasonal produce to become available before bringing it to market.
From the Organic Authority Files
Marché bio de Raspail - 6e
Paris' oldest organic market is this one, halfway between the Luxembourg gardens and the Montparnasse train station. For nearly 20 years, Raspail has been bringing their organic produce to this Sunday morning market, offering not only food, but also clothes, jewelry and cleaning supplies. Those avoiding lactose will love the sheepsmilk yogurt from the Fromagerie de Saunière, though it may be difficult not to buy one of the delicious organic cheeses as well!
If you're not looking to buy groceries, stop at Michel Beucher's organic crêpe stand, for a crêpe and a glass of cider from Normandy, or at the paella stall (you'll smell it from afar!) for vegetarian paella to go.
Several other partially organic markets exist in Paris; to be sure that what you're buying is organic, learn to say: "Est-ce que c'est du bio?"
- Marché du Boulevard Richard Lenoir - 11e (Sunday)
- Marché Cour de Vincennes - 12e (Saturday)
- Marché rue Saint Charles - 15e (Friday)