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Going Local in Paris

Story edited by Sophie Delon

It used to be that the only places to find produce produced in Paris was in the city’s gourmet food stores, like Lafayette Gourmet or the Grande Épicerie at Bon Marché, or in the stalls of the local street markets, like those on the rue Cler in the 7th, rue ds Lévis in the 17th and the rue Mouffetard in the 5th. But the Slow Food movement has brought about a desire for more locally farmed products, from produce to meat to grains.

Now there’s also the Échoppée Locale in the 3rd arrondissement. It offers 100% locally-sourced produce carefully selected by Barbara Martel, a former biogeographer with a passion for good food. Fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese and yogurts, oil, stone-ground flour, herbs, herbal tea and sweets are all a reminder of the rich gastronomic heritage of the Paris region. You’ll find cress from Méréville, fresh, in soup or in concentrated version; mustard from Provins à la rose or à l’ancienne made from mustard seeds cultivated in the Seine et Marne; barley sugar from Moret sur Loing, invented in the 17th century by nuns and even beer brewed in the Vexin. The grocery already accounts for more than 30 producers from the Paris region and some 300 different products, which will increase as Barbara Martel finds more and more new ones!

At It Mylk in Saint Germain des Prés, milk is served up in many forms, from bespoke ice-cream and frozen yogurt to cheesecake baked on the premises. There is also creamy fromage blanc or fromage frais en faiselle, an impressive selection of 100% natural yogurts, as well as “milky cakes” – delicious little cakes created by France’s cake and pastry junior champion Gabrielle Jones. All these mouth-watering products are made exclusively from the milk of 300 dairy cows from the Ferme de Viltain, at Jouy en Josas.

And farm producers readily open their doors for the public to discover the rich local produce, and some even have an online shop for home deliveries. Beekeeper Rémy Vanbremeersch sells his Miel de Paris sourced from hives in Chantilly forest as well as from the capital’s 10th, 12th, 15th, 19th and 20th arrondissements. He also sells pollen, propolis, royal jelly and honey vinegar, all products from his hives. The honey collected from the roofs of the Palais Garnier opera house and the Grand Palais is fairly small in quantity and is sold at Fauchon and in the small shop Les Abeilles (21, rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles) in the 13th arrondissement.

The Escargots Janic are snails raised on the Ferme de l’Écluse de Pamfou outdoors, in a traditional way, with a plant cover and a complement of minerals and cereals for food. They can be purchased cooked or natural in glass jars, and the farm can be visited by prior appointment.

At the Cueillette de Compans (23 rue de l’Église, 77 Compans, Tel +33 (0) 1 60 26 88 39), you can pick your own seasonal fruit and vegetables, from strawberries, peas, salad greens, tomatoes, green beans and apples. There is even poultry, milk products and apple juice to choose from. The Fromagerie Loiseau produces veritable brie de Meaux, a cheese that received an AOC (French government certification) in 1980.

Fans of Goat’s cheese can, by appointment, visit the goats and artisanal cheese production at the Ferme de la Vallière (59 Grande Rue, 77 Tancrou, Tel +33 (0) 9 50 35 22 69), which also produces cider and apples from its orchard. The  Jambon de Paris is produced by the small company Sojadam in a traditional way, without any phosphates, additives, preservatives or flavor enhancers. The Foies Gras de l’Essonne from the Ferme de la Mare are guaranteed to be free of additives and are produced from ducks fed at the farm with local products. Finally, jam lovers looking for local produce should go to Confitures à l’Ancienne, which uses traditional cooking methods in a cauldron, and sources selected fruit from local orchards.

Of course, a visit to the Marché International de Rungis is the ultimate gourmet outing. You can take a tour and discover the world’s biggest market for fresh produce, as long as you don’t mind getting up early – their tours starts at 4.30am. But if you can manage the hours, you’ll spend three hours discovering five of the market’s main pavilions (seafood, meat, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and cut flowers).

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