To Bio or Not to Bio


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Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007

The organic food business (and I do mean mean business) is referred to as ‘bio’ or biologique in French, and one of the best known ‘bio’ markets is the Sunday morning ‘marche bio’ at Boulevard Raspail, Metro: St. Placide (Rue de Rennes).

Feeling in a healthy sort of mood, I thought it might be a good idea to check out the local ‘bio’ market to see what was available.

On my way, I ran into a neighborhood resident, a Parisienne ‘d’un certain age’ who directed me toward the market with this warning:
“You know they charge double on Sundays and you can see some of the same fruit vendors there during the week (on Tuesdays and Fridays, 7 am to 2:30 pm).”
“Don’t worry! I’m just going to take pictures,” I assured her.
She looked relieved that another neighbor might not be taken in by the ‘bio’ labeling.

“People come from miles for this market,” she added, looking somewhat dismayed that people would spend so much time and gasoline to get to such an overpriced market.

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So I ventured into the Raspail market with every intention of not buying a single thing.
But hardly had I gotten past the bread department and I knew my willpower was melting.

It was the loaf of raisin bread that did me in – there it was, begging to be toasted. How could anyone in her right mind turn down such a dapper loaf as that? Allez-up!
3 Euros 40 centimes. Vendu.

Then there was the plant-based cosmetics, founded by Dr. Hausche in Vienna. One of the friendly vendors handed me the complete catalog and said ‘keep it!’ People are so nice at this market! Isn’t that worth a detour already?

Whether the fruits and vegetables are identical to those sold during the week, they look perfect today, fall squashes, and ‘citrouilles’ or pumpkins, fit for a pumpkin soup on Halloween. The free range chickens that have yet to lose their heads if not their ranging capabilities, cheeses and meat assured to be ‘organically correct’ vye with natural oils and milled flour for potential customers.

Vendors of wools and silks display embroidered jackets from Kashmir and even if you withstand the temptations of buying a single product, just the sight of Parisians coming from near and far – with a smattering of English speaking visitors (from as far as Los Angeles) make the Sunday morning outing memorable.

The two Los Angelinos I encounter are headed to another market on the Right Bank. I admire their determined efforts not to cover both Left and Right bank markets in a day. However, I have my loaf of raisin bread. It’s Sunday morning – a good day autumn day to stay close to home.

Marche Biologique
Metro: St. Placide, Sevres Babylone or Rennes (the Rennes Metro stop is closed on Sundays!)
You can also just walk from Montparnasse down Rue de Rennes where it intersects Blvd. Raspail.
The Sunday market opens at 9 am and closes at 1:30 pm.