I refused to believe it so I set forth to do a little research on my own. A friend of mine who visits France every summer, spends this vacation in a small French town. He was visiting one weekend and we got onto the discussion of marchés- and he pointed out something I didn't even consider...
The fact that there is a certain way to behave, to show respect, it all relies on you. I have spent the last few months trying to figure this out and I think I finally got it down.
- Respect the Product: When shopping in the marché, don't just go and grab all the fruits testing for their ripeness. Look at them, wait, if a sign says self service- then be free to do so.
- Ask the Vendor: It shows an enormous amount of respect to ask the vendors questions about their product, when was it picked; when would it be best used by; which is your favorite?
- Respect the Vendor: This is the MOST important, when buying a product from the marché, ask the vendor directly... don't go grabbing for yourself. Asking is simple and actually saves you time. What do I mean by asking? I mean tell the vendor you would like 500 grams of tomatoes. They will pick the ripest for you, and always get exactly the grams/kilograms you asked for. It also builds a relationship- and often they'll give you a deal on the product.
- Say Thank You: I know it seems minimal, but this simple little phrase and a 'bon journée' represents the fact that you are respecting the French culture.
- Don't Be Offended: If the vendor is abrupt or even quick with talking to you- it's their livelihood to sell the products and quickly.. they aren't mean people, they just are nice farmers who may not be that sociable.
You really can get a good deal; I bought all the veggies in the photo below for only €8 and the lemons were only €1!!
My Favorite Marchés:
Quai Victor Augagneur: 51 commerçants at it's maximum, sells a variety of products from cheeses to vegetables/fruits. Has one of my favorite vegetable merchants, last time sold me some tomatoes and lettuce, very 'gently', picked out the perfect one. Got lemons for €1.
Marché de la Croix-Russe: On the Boulevard de la Croix-Russe, incredibly huge with 109 commerçants. Sundays or Saturdays are the best day to go, very lively.