Where to buy organic foods in Paris

Bio C' Bon

I’ve recently received requests from a couple of readers who were about to move to (or spend a little while in) Paris, and were wondering about natural and organic foods, and where to find them.

Agriculture biologique is French for organic farming, and organic goods are referred to as produits bio. Organic produce, grains, dairy, and meat are increasingly popular with French consumers, and although they still come at a higher price than conventionally grown goods, they are now more widely available than ever.

In Paris, here are the sources you can choose from:


There are three all-organic open-air greenmarkets in Paris: Batignolles (Saturday mornings on boulevard des Batignolles outside the Rome métro station in the 17th — my favorite), Raspail (Sunday mornings on boulevard Raspail, between rue du Cherche-Midi and rue de Rennes in the 6th), and Brancusi (Saturday mornings on Place Constantin in the 14th).

At these you will find produce, meat, fish, cheese, bread, and various specialty stalls that may be devoted to dried fruits and nuts, rôtisserie poultry, baked goods, potted herbs, flavored salts, herbal remedies, etc.

These are not, strictly speaking, farmers markets, as they welcome both growers and retailers (and growers who complement their own offerings with produce purchased from elsewhere), so it’s worth asking for clarification if you’d rather buy your produce directly from the grower.

Prices also vary widely from stall to stall and can reach ridiculous heights, so it’s good to take a full walk around the market and compare prices, and to have about you a general sense of how much you’re willing to pay for your multicolored radishes and your goat cheese faisselle.

Beyond the organic nature of the produce, the secondary benefit of these markets is that they’re great places to discover unusual varieties of herbs, fruits, and vegetables that you would never find in conventional stores.

Note that other, conventional greenmarkets (see full list) are likely to have one or two vendors selling organic produce.

Batignolles organic greenmarket

Organic grocery stores

Several chains of organic grocery stores are represented in Paris, with locations sprinkled throughout the city: Naturalia (owned by the Monoprix group), Biocoop (my favorite, I just wish there was a location closer to me), Bio c’ Bon (a newish and promising chain despite the ridiculous name), Les Nouveaux Robinsons (who recently opened their first Paris location and acquired the Bio Génération chain), and La Vie Claire.

In them you will find everything from fresh and packaged foods, to cleaning supplies, to beauty products. They will be your best shot if you’re trying to find alternative flours and sweeteners, unrefined sugars, whole grains, legumes, nuts, oils, non-dairy milks, soy products, gluten-free ingredients, and anything remotely granola.

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Twelve Hours in Paris

Chair and table

Three and a half years ago, I followed my friend Adam’s lead and imagined what I would do if I was given just Twelve Hours in Paris.

I still stand by the choices I made then — except for the Caramella gelato shop, now sadly defunct. But, prompted by reader Patricia’s recent comment on that post, I thought it would be fun to revisit that theme now, and dream up another ideal Parisian day, featuring shops and restaurants that have opened in the meantime.

My twelve hours in Paris, 2012 edition, would begin in late morning with a croissant from Gontran Cherrier’s bakery: he makes it with feuilletage inversé, the puff pastry that’s typically used for millefeuilles (napoleons), and it is extra flaky and extra good. I would also buy a half loaf of his rye and red miso bread, if I didn’t mind schlepping it around with me all day.

I would then spend a couple of leisurely hours walking up and around the Montmartre hill, which remains full of secrets even when you’ve lived in the neighborhood for (gasp!) nine years. I would climb up staircases and down cobblestoned streets, check out the vineyard, peek into courtyards (and tiptoe in for a closer look if the gate happened to be open), and enjoy the village-y quiet and the greenery.

Hopping onto the metro or catching a Vélib’, I would go and have lunch at Bob’s Kitchen, the vegetarian restaurant where I cooked for a short while last year. I would order the day’s veggie stew, the satisfying mix of grains, legumes, roasted vegetables, and crudités I lunched on day in, day out during my stint there. I might also get one of their irresistible maki (garnished with avocado, mango, and daikon radish) to share.

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Omnivore World Tour in Paris

Omnivore World Tour

The Omnivore World Tour — formerly known as the Omnivore Food Festival — is an inspiring event during which an audience of pros and enthusiasts watch live demos by up-and-coming chefs.

The French edition will be held in Paris (rather than Deauville*) this year, from Sunday, March 11 to Tuesday, March 13, and I will be hosting the chocolate masterclasses, a series of chocolate-centric demos and discussions with pastry chefs and chocolatiers.

If you’d like to join in the fun, the tickets are available for purchase online. I hope to meet some of you there!

* See my post about the chicken in a bread crust to read about my experience last year.

Chocolate Appreciation Society (Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat)

Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat

A little over a year ago, I received the kind of phone call that makes you beam for hours on end, unable (and not really willing, either) to peel the smile off your face: I had just been admitted as a member of the Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat, a famous French chocolate appreciation society I’d been dreaming of joining for years.

Created in the early eighties, when chocolate and chocolatiers didn’t get nearly as much attention and respect as they do now, the Club aims to bring together chocolate enthusiasts for tastings, promote the worthiest of artisans, and share its findings with non-members via a website, yearly awards, and a guide to France’s best chocolatiers.

The Club has one hundred and fifty members at all times. Some of them are food professionals — chocolatiers, pastry chefs, restaurateurs, writers, journalists… — but many are from completely different walks of life — fitness coaches, historians, nurses, photographers… — their only common denominator being a long-standing passion for chocolate.

It can take a while to get your foot in the door of this particular Club, as you have to be sponsored by two current members, write a letter of motivation, and then wait for a seat to become available. But I think the format can be adopted by any group of friends or coworkers committed to fueling their chocolate obsession, so I thought I’d tell you about it in a little more detail in case it inspires you to create your own local society.

Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat
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C&Z Anniversary Get-Together: Important Update

Verjus Due to an unforeseen administrative snag, the C&Z Anniversary Get-Together has been rescheduled to Friday, October 21. The venue has not changed: it will be held at Verjus, the wine bar that my friends Braden and Laura (of Hidden Kitchen fame) are just about to open. We’ll be there from 8pm, but feel free to drop by whenever you like. I apologize for this change of date, and hope to meet you there!

Verjus, 47 rue Montpensier, Paris 1er, +33 (0)1 42 97 54 40 (see map).

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