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  • LJS

What Paris looks like at 4 am

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

It was cold. Rainy. Early. And ever so beautiful. The Christmas decorations helped!

We had an early week last week. 2 days of Boulangerie meant getting to school by 6:30 am, 2 days of Pastry starting at 8 am, and a field trip to Rungis Market, where we arrived at school at 4 am. It was a bit rough by Friday, but I made it through! I also slept for about 40 hours over the weekend, but that’s pretty normal for me. I love my sleep.

Anyway, a couple of the girls spent the night at my house the night before our field trip to Rungis Market so we could walk, since the metro doesn’t run at 3:45 am. Plus, it would ensure that we all made it. We also had a phone tree that morning, where my entire class all called each other to make sure we were up and ready to go. Never can be too certain, didn’t want to miss this.

Rungis Market is the largest wholesale market in the world, where Parisian restaurateurs go to get the freshest produce, meats, dairy, flowers…Everything. It was built when Les Halles was closed in the 1971, which was a major upset for the French. There had been a market in Les Halles since Paris had been created and the change was not taken lightly. But it was much needed – think of the buildup of eons of less than sanitary food shopping. Nasty.

So, here we were in the rain and cold morning hours, getting ready to go on a tour of the famous market. We had fancy white jackets and hairnets to keep things clean, but since it was so cold, we put them over our winter jackets. It was quite the look. Here are my friends trying to stay warm at 5 am…

First off, we went into the Fish market, a big warehouse-type place full of the freshest catch of the day. It usually opens at 10 pm and closes around 5:30 am, so we were there for the end of it. Pretty amazing things on sale though for those of you who enjoy fruits de la mer, like a huge swordfish, sea urchins, scallops, mussels, and all sorts of various fish…

Very interesting to see all the types of fishes. I prefer fish that are still swimming, but hey, that’s just me.

Next on the tour was a look at the butcher buildings. It was quite…interesting. There were 3 buildings, one for poultry, one for cows/pigs/lambs/etc, and one for all the inside stuff. We all had different reactions – mine was to walk quickly and mostly keep my eyes down. One of my colleagues immediately starting dreaming of BBQs.

Again, not really my cup of tea but glad I saw it.

After the meats were done, we headed off to the fruits and veggie halls. I was excited. This was much more up my alley. I went a bit wild and took a million pictures, it was all so lovely and fresh in there. The sellers in the hall were laughing at me by the end of the hall, telling me to take pictures of them as well as the fruits. Needless to say, I was a hit with this crowd. They could see my joy over not seeing any more dead animals I guess. And I am usually so subtle…

I was all but skipping at this point, I loved this place so much. I fully plan on putting some of these up in my kitchen, once I have a kitchen that is. The sink and microwave in my apartment doesn’t really count, I guess.

After this, I kept on a roll of all my favorite things by heading over to the cheese building. It, too, was lovely. Oh, how I love cheese.


At this point, we had toured all of the buildings we were going to and the sun was finally coming up. What better breakfast than boiled pork, French fries and wine? Very traditional for the nocturnal people that work the market…a bit odd for us. But who am I to say no to tradition? I ate a baguette and called it a very successful trip to Rungis!

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