I've been to my fair share of Christmas markets - funnily enough, the only ones I'd ever been to before this weekend were all in France.(excluding any that my parents may have dragged me to in some rural part of Maryland when I was younger - I tend to block those out.)When I lived in Montpellier there was a popular Christmas market right at Place de la Comédie, and of course Paris has its fair share as well - I went to the Village de Noël at place Saint Sulpice numerous times when I lived in Paris over the holidays, and always found tons of great gifts there.
So when I passed by the holiday market in Union Square
this Saturday, I knew I had to face the crowds and take a peak.
Macaron stand - Union Square holiday market
As expected, this Christmas market had a lot of the same stuff you would find at the ones in France (or probably anywhere around the world for that matter.)
Vendors selling jewelery, local food, art, organic and/or homemade beauty products; smells of pine, apple cider and hot chocolate permeating through the air; festively decorated stands decked out in red, white and green; and crowds (and crowds) of shoppers.As I was wandering about, I suddenly stumbled upon a macaron stand, and naturally got inappropriately excited.
These little delicacies have become quite trendy in New York - I feel like the Americans adopted the French macaron trend in exchange for the recent French interest in "les cupcakes."
(Yes, this Anglo-Franco dessert comparison will inventively become a new blog post, get excited people.)As much as I love macarons, I decided to forgo the $2.50
a piece they were charging, assuming that it would just make me homesick for Paris and crave Pierre Hermé
. I mean, are macarons even worth eating if they're not made with some totally random ingredient, like Azuki bean
or Églantine ?
(had to Google that one, apparently it's a flavor in the rose family
) (Apparently I've become even more judgmental and snobbish than I previously thought...)Anyways, if you're willing to brave the crowds of (mostly) tourists and New York locals partaking in some holiday cheer, the holiday market at Union Square is definitely worth exploring. Many of the goods are overpriced, but it's worth a trip for the free samples and to get inspired for the holiday season.
Place de la Bastille
As you can tell from my previous post, I am oh-so-excited that spring has FINALLY arrived in Paris. I'm still getting used to the constant sunshine, which I haven't experienced since September.
Even though markets are a year-round occurrence in France, they become so much more vibrant and enjoyable when the weather improves.
The Richard Lenoir Market
, located in my favorite arrondissement, le 11ième
, is known as the largest outdoor market in Paris, and has essentially everything you could want - food, flowers, furniture, clothes and even sea urchins (seriously, check out my photos below for proof.)
It's also a great place to snag some cheap jewelry (as demonstrated by my previous post discussing my slight obsession with rings.)
When you're done stocking up on various goodies, I suggest you bring your findings up for a picnic along the Canal Saint-Martin
, or wander over to Père Lachaise cemetery to check out some famous headstones.Richard Lenoir Market Info Location:
Begins at Place de la Bastille Métro:
Bastille or Bréguet SabinHours: 9am to 1pm
(approximately): The Bastille market is also open on Thursdays, but Sunday is the main day to go.
The loot from Richard Lenoir market.
Today I took a trip to the famous Marché Richard-Lenoir
(aka the Richard Lenoir/Bastille market) in the 11th arrondissement of Paris.
I was in the market (no pun intended) for some big rings, and needless to say, I got what I came for. In addition to buying some lovely produce (including some divine, melt-in-your mouth dates,) I managed to score three lovely rings - for a total of 26
€.Now, I've gotten rings for cheaper (there is a stand at the market with rings and other jewelry for 1-2
€ a piece, but that can be hit or miss). But I was willing to pay a little extra for rings that don't turn my fingers green.
Plus, I was able to strike up a deal and knock 5€ off the final price!Good French Market Tip: never hesitate to barter with the vendors. Whether it's asking for a two-for-one deal, or getting to the produce stands at the end of the day, there are always good deals to be found!I plan to do my next post on the stunning Bulgari exhibit I saw at le Grand Palais last weekend, so I figured this was a nice way to jump start my jewelry-themed
series. I also took some lovely photos at the market, so more to come on yet another successful Parisian-marché experience as well.Getting ready for a year filled with smelly cheese, delectable desserts, shiny objects and
more in 2011!
View of the London Eye along the river Thames
A few weeks ago I took a trip to London, which I always find to be slightly disorienting when I come over from France. I end up uttering things like “Excusez –moi” when I bump into people, or accidentally saying “bonne journée”
when leaving a shop.
I also feel like I standout more as an American in London than I do in Paris: since we’re all speaking the same language, my accent immediately sets me apart, whereas at least in France, they may know I’m not French, but they don’t know exactly where I’m from.
Not that I'm ashamed of being American -- au contraire
I just feel like I loose a bit of my anonymity when I'm hanging out with our former colonizers.
At the same time, it’s always a bit of a relief to visit a country that so closely resembles my own. Coffee to go is easy to come by, restaurants actually highlight vegetarian options on their menus (almost as if they’re excited about it!) And even though I’m always somewhat disappointed to discover that not every Londoner sounds like Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins
, I still think almost anything sounds better when spoken in an English accent.
Entrance to Borough Market
After spending some quality time at a few British pubs and getting drizzled on by the notorious English rain, I decided to take a trip to the famous Borough Market
in South London.
Since I spend so much time visiting and blogging about markets in Paris, I figured why not take a look at what the Brits have to offer?
Borough Market is a popular tourist destination and considered one of the largest markets in the world
, with up to 70 food stalls. The Market is also believed to date as far back as the 13th century, and has been used in several famous films, including Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).
So if you get there on a Saturday afternoon, you can expect large crowds of people from all over the world (and an insanely long line at the Barclays ATM), wandering around sampling everything from English cheddar to hot Indian spices.
Here is some general information and helpful tips if any of you are interested in visiting Borough Market in the near (or distant) future:Borough Market Address:8 Southwark Street
SE1 1TL(Located beneath the railway viaducts, between the river Thames and Borough High Street)Borough Market Hours:Thursdays: 11am - 5pmFridays: 12pm - 6pmSaturdays: 8am - 5pm
According to the market's official website
:"The Market is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with Saturday being busiest after 11am. The sensible shopper gets here between 8am and 10am for the pick of the day. Thursday is usually a relaxed shopping day and our demonstration chef is on hand for ideas, tips and demonstrations in the Jubilee Market."
Below is a selection of photos I took from my visit to the Market. As you can see, they have similar items to the Parisian markets I've blogged about
(flowers, cheese, olives, etc.), but also carry plenty of specialty items, including spices from around the world, and of course those famous English pies!
Squash, broccoli, apples...scrumptious fall treats!
Every Sunday from 8:30am to 2pm, my regular weekly market turns into a bourgeois-bohemian
All the Whole Foods
-driving soccer moms (or dads) back home would surely give a pair of their TOMS
to get their hands on some of the goods sold at the weekly Marché biologique (organic market) on Boulevard Raspail
, located in the 6th arrondissement
in central Paris.
Unfortunately, I’m a poor grad student living in Paris on a budget.
So while I visit the regular market on Boulevard Raspail almost every Tuesday, I rarely go to the Sunday one, as the items are generally a bit more expensive.
Yes, this is what all French farmers look like. I swear.
But I decided to stop by this past Sunday, just to take a peak at some of the delicacies they have to offer.
And I discovered, that this market has pretty much everything:
- organic goat’s cheese (chèvre!)
- homemade veggie burgers (grilled on the spot!)
- soaps, shampoos & perfumes
- organic wine (duh.)
- fresh squeezed juices & homemade jams
- organic brownies, cookies & tarts (note: organic ≠ low-fat)
- and of course, all the organic fruits and vegetables you could ever want!
Below is a slideshow to give you all a better idea of what you can experience if you ever get the opportunity to visit this lovely market, which merges together the old French tradition of the "marché
" with the relatively recent trend of organic food.