Last week we looked at going shopping at the Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris’ oldest covered market. If you’re staying in Paris, whether in a furnished apartment or with friends, getting your supplies from the market is all well and good. But we all know that sometimes only the very best will do. If an important dinner party is looming—or if you just want to treat your foodie friends—there’s usually one address on the list: La Grande Épicerie de Paris.
Not just any grocery store
Given that it’s perhaps the finest food hall in all of Paris, the Grande Épicerie has a rather ordinary-sounding name: épicerie is French for ‘grocery store’, and you’ll find épiceries of a rather different sort on just about street corner. Don’t be misled though, as most ‘ordinary’ épiceries are little more than a neighbourhood convenience store.
Le Bon Marché
The Grande Épicerie de Paris is very different, and the fact that it occupies the entire ground floor of Le Bon Marché, one of the oldest and most exclusive department stores on the city’s chic Left Bank, gives a clue to what’s on offer.
Arranged much like an ordinary supermarket—but without the prices to match—the Grande Épicerie features fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, cheeses, wines and delicacies from around the world. Sampling the food is part of the experience, which is why there’s a café on site, but for many knowledgeable shoppers, it’s the professional staff who work at the various counters who really make the experience special.
If you’re having a special dinner party, a team of experts will help you pick out the right wine for the occasion, advise on the perfect selection for your cheeseboard and give you tips on some of the more exotic ingredients you might have picked up.
A lot of the treats on show are made fresh every day: a team of over twenty pastry chefs are hard at work in the basement every day producing cakes, tartes and other sugary delights for sale upstairs, for instance.
Finally, if all of this has left you hungry, then you might like to know that the Grande Épicerie de Paris now has an online store. But for food-lovers in Paris, nothing can beat a pilgrimage to the grande épicerie to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of this foodie paradise—not to mention the tastes, of course!
WHAT: Paris’ most famous food hall, La Grande Épicerie de Paris
WHERE: inside Le Bon Marché department store, 24, rue de Sèvres. Nearest metro Sèvres-Babylone
WHEN: open every day from 10 am to 8 pm Monday to Saturday, and til 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays