Where to buy organic foods in Paris

Root vegetables

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:

~ Greenmarkets

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.

~ 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.

Do read the labels on all those foods: just because they’re sold as organic doesn’t mean they’ve been grown reasonably close by (I avoid buying foods grown in countries where I don’t trust local standards), or that they don’t contain palm oil of uncertain origin.

I find that the Naturalia stores around me often have problems with produce that sits around for too long, but this likely varies from store to store. “Bulk” sections are available from Biocoop, Bio c’ Bon, and Les Nouveaux Robinsons stores, and it’s generally cheaper to get your nuts or grains from those (remember to compare with the packaged price anyway).

Some of those stores have been recently created or made over and offer a fresh and contemporary face; others give off a musty seventies vibe whose charm is debatable.

~ Smaller, independent organic shops

Look out for independent organic shops near you; the website Paris So Biotiful offers a good directory listing.

They will be smaller that the ones mentioned above (which are nowhere near Whole -Foods-sized), but they are likely to distribute different brands and/or be open to special-ordering the things you need, especially if you become a regular.

And if their prices aren’t crazy, you may want to support them instead of the bigger players. I like Le Carillon d’Olivier in my neighborhood; they’re super friendly and their produce is particularly fresh.

~ Ordinary grocery stores

Over the past few years, mainstream grocery stores have caught on to the organic trend, and now offer a growing variety of organic goods, often under their own brand: fresh produce, packaged meat, and dairy, as well as dry goods which you will find either in their special little organic/health food ghetto section, or sprinkled throughout the store among their conventional peers. Look for the green logos on the labels, either the French “AB” (for agriculture biologique) or the European leaf made of stars.

Again, checking the origin of the foods you buy (is it really a good idea to eat organic apples from Argentina while in Paris?), study the ingredients lists, and compare prices between stores.

~ Elsewhere

It has become almost obligatory for organically-inclined lunchtime restaurants — such as Rose Bakery, Claus, Cococook, etc. — to offer a tiny épicerie section featuring beautifully packaged goods you may not find elsewhere, so keep an eye out for those when you eat out (and, forgive the broken record, but pay attention to the prices; impulse purchases can severely bust your budget).

Any good tip or favorite source to add to the list?

Further reading: My friend Phyllis Flick has written a guest post on shopping for local produce in Paris on David Lebovitz’s blog.

  • Elizabeth

    Wow! I get to comment first?!? Super!

    Merci bien for the great recommendations! I’m one of your lucky readers who lives in Paris, and in the 18th, no less!

    I’ve been to Naturalia, Rose Bakery, and Le Carillon d’Olivier, where I’ve been happy to find the odd items I couldn’t in the regular market. Do you happen to know where one can find dried black beans? I’m beginning to request them from friends visiting from the US!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Naturalia doesn’t usually stock them, but you’ll find dried black beans (most likely the Celnat brand) at Biocoop or Bio c’ Bon stores.

  • http://mrsredbootsfood.blogspot.com/ Annabel (Mrs Redboots)

    I was in Paris at the weekend and we found ourselves wandering through an ordinary street market (Avenue du President Wilson) slightly randomly. It may not have been organic – but all the greengrocers’ stalls were selling seasonal produce – asparagus, both green and the white variety that is unknown here, strawberries that had actually been grown in France, globe artichokes….I was so, so envious as we have nothing like that here except occasionally in our farmers’ markets. Our street markets just sell the same stuff all year round, as do our supermarkets, and although I did find some British asparagus today (at a price), I have no idea where I would even begin to buy artichokes, and all the strawberries I’ve seen come from Spain or even further afield.

    I remembered why I loved living in Paris 40-odd years ago! And also realised exactly why I find the French people’s love-affair with chain restaurants so disturbing – if every menu is the same, where is the room for fresh, seasonal ingredients?

    Yet again, as so often before, I am homesick for France!!!

  • http://scandifoodie.blogspot.com.au Maria

    This is perfect! I am going to Paris in June and will definitely check these places out! Thank you!

  • http://scandifoodie.blogspot.com.au Maria

    Oh and one more thing! Could you please recommend any vegan or vegan friendly cafes/restaurants in Paris? Thanks!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      French food tends not to veganize too well, but you can definitely go to vegetarian/vegan places like Bob’s Juice Bar, Bob’s Kitchen, or Soya, and there are plenty of Asian or Lebanese restaurants where you can eat as a vegan, too.

  • http://www.jtaimephotographie-corrina.blogspot.com/ Corrina Tough

    Hi we are visiting france in September/october for 5 weeks and will be travelling with our two young children. My youngest child (son) is gluten and dairy intolerant among other things and I was wondering where I can get gluten free breads and dairy free products in France. Also what should I say when we go into resturants/cafes about his alergies? Regards, Corrina.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      The organic grocery stores I mentioned will be good places to find gluten- and dairy-free products, and if you’re renting a place with a kitchen (which is the most fun, and also most convenient option with kids) it should make your life easier. Note that gluten-free breads in those stores are often placed on shelves right next to breads with gluten, so be careful is cross-contamination is an issue. You can also visit Helmut Newcake, a recently opened pastry shop that does gluten-free pastries.

      It’s getting better, but in general restaurant/café staff doesn’t know very much about allergies and intolerances, so be patient and try to work with them. A good phrase to use in is “Mon fils est allergique au gluten et aux produits laitiers. Qu’est-ce qu’il pourrait manger ?” I remember seeing gluten-free websites that allowed you to print a card with information on gluten and what does and doesn’t contain it; it may facilitate communication if you do that.

  • http://www.france24.com Phil in France

    What I don’t understand is why Whole Foods has opened three shops in London, but none in Paris. I understand the value of supporting ‘local enterprise’ but my experiences with grocery stores in France and Paris in particular have always been negative, at least when compared to the Whole Foods stores at which I’ve shopped – North Avenue in Chicago, Bowery and 14th st in NYC, Chelsea in London.

    What it boils down to, really, is that I’m tired of getting strange looks from grocery employees when I ask for Pandan leaves or a certain type of extract or macis entier. This sort of assumption that “we don’t know it so it either doesn’t exist or we won’t bother to see if we can order it” is peculiar to Paris… So perhaps that’s why WF isn’t here.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I, too, wish Whole Foods would open a shop in Paris! Real estate might be an issue, as they usually open super-large stores and it’s hard to find that sort of space in Paris itself.

      I’m sorry you’ve had bad experiences with unhelpful staff. On the contrary, I usually find that employees at the organic grocery stores I mentioned don’t mind unusual requests, and will actually confer with one another or call the manager to try and advise.

      Note, also, that those organic grocery stores focus on natural/organic foods, and that there are other specialized stores for Asian goods (you should find pandan leaves in Belleville or in the Quartier Chinois in the 13th) and for spices (I recommend L’Epicerie de Bruno, Izraël or Le Comptoir Colonial).

      • http://www.france24.com Phil in France

        Izrael I’ve never been to, but have heard good things about. Epicerie de Bruno is great for lots of random things like Mexican Oregano and Masa Harina, and I really just LOVE the 13emme, Paris Store and the like.

        The thing about all of those shops, though, is just that – they’re spread all over the place. What I want is a place that’s easy to access and has everything I need. I guess that’s my real beef.

        Speaking of, Clotilde as long as I have you on the line, where can I get organic cut-to-order pork? When I say cut-to-order what I really mean is st louis-style ribs. I could always just buy a side of pork and do it myself, but then I’d need a band saw…

        • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

          That’s a tall order :) but you could try and talk to one of the butchers at the organic greenmarket, and ask if they’d be open to custom-cut a side of pork for you. Of course, it would help if you were a regular customer to begin with.

  • http://delight-blog.com/ cassandra

    I LOVE the Biocoop; Lemo is closest to me. I interviewed Claude Gruffat a while back and was so impressed by how involved they are with the farmers they buy from and the client. Not only are they organic, but they also buy directly from the farmeres, fix prices in the stores so that the shop owners don’t raise them à la, ‘it is organic, so the client will not know,’they refuse to sell food from far away lands that can be grown in France’Spain or Italy and they only sell it when it is in season. They are beyond organic, not even Wholefoods compares in my mind.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I agree! You can really tell that it isn’t just a commercial venture for them, there’s a real commitment to bringing about change in the food system. Is your interview of Gruffat available online anywhere?

      • http://delight-blog.com/ cassandra

        Hello,
        You can fin the article here.
        It is on page 34-35.

        • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

          That link requires a login/password, unfortunately, but I receive the magazine and I can’t believe I missed your interview! I’ll try to dig it up.

  • http://www.tipsonhealthyliving.com/ Val @ Tips on Healthy Living

    Excellent suggestions! I always recommend that when people travel to a city, they rent an apartment through a site like Air BnB and do all their shopping on their own. It makes you feel like you are really a part of the city and it’s also a healthier way to travel.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I couldn’t agree more! Swapping houses/apartments is even more fun if you can arrange it.

    • http://hotcuisinedepierre.wordpress.com Hot Cuisine de Pierre

      Same opinion here in Belgium. Airbnb in combination with this great guide of Chocolate and Zucchini makes a visit to a city like Paris really great. Perfect to meet local people, try to talk in French, just a perfect way to travel.

  • http://dustbowlpoetry.wordpress.com Shelley

    Why is it that Paris/food seems to lend it self so beautifully to English/language?

  • http://thefrancofly.wordpress.com thefrancofly.wordpress.com

    I love Les Nouveaux Robinson in Montreuil. Although it can be a bit pricey, it’s convenient having a one-stop, full-service organic grocery store nearby. And they have strange and unusual baking ingredients I often seek out.

  • Jennifer

    I like Maison POS in the 11th, 90 rue de Charonne(métro Charonne, ligne 9)

    It’s small, mostly local & bio produce.

  • http://www.ferdakost.com Marion

    Hm… would you know of any other organic market in France? Outside of Paris?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      It’s a big country! :) I’m sure if you’re a little more specific you can find someone who knows the area and can help.

  • Susan

    I, too, shop religiously at Batignolles and only wish they would have a second day there. It’s a pleasure to shop there. All the vendors are ‘sympathique’ and there is lots of variety, especially with spring products available. “Le Potager Bio” has been there the past few weeks with a wonderful assortment of herbs, and flowers too.
    There are vendors with gluten-free products too.

    Re: Whole Foods. I shopped there when I lived in Canada but I don’t miss it. It’s still a big commercial operation. As I live in France now, I want to embrace the bounty of food that is here. Overall, it is much easier to better quality across the board, even for us vegetarians.

  • Susan

    Oh, I forgot to say that for me shopping organic is also about embracing local diversity, and reducing our dependance on imported food which is costly to the environment. The Slow Food Movement and 100 Mile Diet are all about this. The markets are my favourite way to shop by far.

    For vegan and fair trade chocolate (imported of course), consider Chocolattitudes in the 14e.

  • http://aladyinfrance.com Lady Jennie

    Sometimes I buy online at toutelabio and if there are gluten or milk allergies, gourmetsansgene. I don’t live anywhere near a bio shop so I have to do most online. Carrefour and Auchan are also getting better at bio, at least for the non-fresh groceries.

  • Amy

    I am living in Paris in the 11th Arrondissement. In the past, Naturalia carried Chia Seeds. They no longer carry them. :( Any idea where I could find them, either in the 11th or elsewhere in town? Thanks!!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I seem to have recently heard there was a shortage. Not sure about the details, but I assume it’s temporary.

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