Personal Notes

Where Sunday Morning Parisian Markets Come From

So, this morning the first order of business was to source greens after a very slow start to the day and also pick out a great pumpkin for a soup for the delicious soups that my partner makes. We’ve just had dinner and the recollection of the taste of it actually almost triggers tears of joy – it is that well made. Yum.

In any case, one of the random thoughts to have emerged somewhere between walking through our local Sunday market, is how this system of markets began. My four-year old level of questioning is only more mature to my pre school toddler level of French. But it certainly does make for a coherent picture: A Sunday morning, walking through a Parisian market, speaking three year old French and asking a question that would make a creche teacher proud —- Where do Paris Sunday markets come from?

Apparently, one could trace the modern day Parisian Sunday market – and other midweek ones to the 5th Century when Paris was still called Lutèce – and more precisely to a market called 4PAlu’ which was situated in what is now Ile de la Cité.

Palu would eventually meet its demise but be succeeded by several other covered and open air markets. And, as consumerism began to take its more modern form, both the range of goods and number of markets around the city would increase around the second half of the 19th century.

Paris.fr now hosts an interactive maps of all the markets, by arrondissement that have become a part of the w city’s rhythm of life and in many instances its gepography. (For a link to the map, click here)

With my question about the origins of the Parisian sunday market answered – I guess the next question for a three year old worth the title is why? I hope to find a patient adult to help me figure out – beyond the obvious reasons of supply and demand needs – why they’ve taken on and maintained their different forms, who drives the commerce?, are the so called farmers produce truly so and who actually benefits from the markets? How do these folks get licensing to sell, how does it all work? Annoying questions galore that I hopefully will find answers to with the little French that I have.

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