RUNGIS MARCHE INTERNATIONAL
My friends and I are 'foodies'; so we had a friend of a friend set up an appointment for us at 'foodie heaven'. The only problem was that the appointment was at 5:00 AM. We finished dinner at Le Grand Pan and did not sleep until 1:00 AM, so you can imagine how difficult it was for all of us to wake up at 3:30 AM to make it to our appointment in time. But foodies are not rational people; so we forced ourselves out of bed at such a ghastly hour for a trip to a 'market'.
We drove 20 minutes out of Paris to arrive at 5:00 on a dark and chilly Spring morning in Rungis, the largest food market in the world. Rungis, on the outskirts of Paris, is a wholesale food market - to the trade only. Previously located in central Paris in an area still called Les Halles, it was moved in the early 1970s to ease congestion in the city.
The market covers 573 acres, an area larger than Monaco. It welcomes 26,000 cars every day and nourishes one-fifth of the French population. Meat, fruit, vegetables, fish, and flowers converge here from across France, Europe, and the world before scattering to supermarket aisles or the finest Paris restaurants (information quoted from cm.com).
Rungis can actually be a city in itself. Since Rungis has so many people working and visiting it; it has banks, post offices, hairdressers, hotels, restaurants, etc. to cater to all these people.
Another amazing thing at Rungis is the amount of tourist. Bus loads of them; as far away as China. There are also private tour guides who apparently charge 200 euros for a private tour. I am sure some of the food traders at Rungis are not happy about the amount of tourist coming through the food halls.
We had a rendez-vous in front of a sea-food restaurant to meet our guide. Our young guide arrived and greeted us. He worked for 'Classic Fine Foods', a company that scouts the best produce for restaurant, hotels, etc. in other countries.
He started our tour at the fish hall. We payed two euros for a plastic coat and cap for sanitary reasons. Apparently, it would have been better to arrive at the fish hall around 2:00 AM because that is when all the action takes place. When we arrived, the majority of the fish traders were cleaning up and starting to put the fish away. Luckily we were able to see some fish.
The grand fish hall.
Its as large as an airplane hanger.
Lobster and crab claws.
All types of fish.
The fish traders.
All types of shell fish.
Craw fish and lobsters.