It’s funny – I don’t think I ever went to the farmer’s markets to shop for groceries when I lived here two years ago. Living on Oberkampf, I walked on over to Métro Ménilmontant to the local grocery (who albeit had fresh food, but it’s still different from going the farmer’s market) and bought my groceries there. And after, when I moved to République, I would buy my groceries on my way home from school in the 16th arr or pick something up from the old Oberkampf neighborhood. Perhaps it was because I didn’t live close enough to the open air markets, or perhaps because I didn’t realize what days they were open.
New York changed my habits, though. The Saturday Union Square Greenmarket was my weekend ritual (albeit it did open also on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays, but I worked during the hours it was open on those days), with me heading to particular favorites, such as Ronnybrook Farms for my biweekly fix of milk. Those habits didn’t even change when I moved to the Lenox Hill area from Gramercy; I still took the train to Union Square every Saturday morning to get my fix of vegetables, fruits, and sometimes meat/fish.
Anyway, it took me a while to adapt to living in the 16th arrondisement; I kept to what was familiar, such as buying vegetables and fruit from the grocers on rue de l’Annonciation. But a month ago, I discovered the Saturday Auteuil farmer’s market, which is only five minutes from my apartment and across from the Monoprix (where I make my daily pilgrimage).
And like all other things, there are of course cultural differences to be noted, especially with Auteuil’s farmer’s market. At the markets in New York, you pick your own fruits and vegetables (with the exception of the fish/meat stands and one of the vegetable stands where you have the option of picking your own and having them help you) and then ring them up. Here, though, I find myself waiting my turn; when my turn arrives, I simply tell the person working the stand what I would like and how much of it, and a tab is kept for me until I can request no more.
Of course, there also some ambiguity; after all, I may end up having a little more or little less than intended since I’m relinquishing some of my personal agency by transmitting a message for someone to act, as opposed to acting myself. In any case, it is a new experience, and an enjoyable one at that as I meander under the temporary awnings/tents on rainy Saturday mornings in closer-knit crowds than Union Square (if you can believe that).
Place Jean Lorrain
Open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7am to 2:30 pm
Métro: Michel-Ange-Auteuil (ligne 9)
Edit: I finally snapped some photos of the Auteuil market (November 20, 2010)