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A Visit to Rungis, The World's Biggest Food Market (page 2 of 2)

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Rungis, just outside Paris, is a cult place for gourmets. It is so huge you need a car to go from one hall to the next. That is where Parisian chefs buy what they cook. I was able to visit at 4h00 in the morning.
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Caution: if you are vegetarian or have a heart condition, please DO NOT click on the text-linked images in this section.

By the entrance of the goriest hall of them all, La Triperie (the guts hall), we saw a pool of fresh blood:

A bag of hearts. we saw a carton of brains - calf or sheeps? Calves' heads and pigs' heads are always a hit with young female Japanese visitors. According to our guide, they make all sorts of hisses and laughs and some faint. We were spared the strongest sight, horses' head. See some more heads.

 

The Meat Hall is a soft place compared to what precedes. Here they sell only regular steak, sirloin and filet, albeit by the carcass.

Want to cosy up with the locals?

 

This dead piglet can shock some readers.

 

Our final visit was a huge supermarket for restaurateurs selling industrial and semi-industrial meal components. A sort of ready-to-wear gastronomic supermarket.

In this aisle, Parisians restaurant owners can buy ready-made Pâtés, pickles and prawns by the gallon. Real chef's specials.

Further into the supermarket, we discovered what may be called the Swiss secret of Parisian saucemakers. An entire row filled with powdered sauces for every sauce known to Escoffier. Swiss-made by Knorr. Ahem. I'll say all French chefs do not shop here if you concede that there is more to Switzerland than Knorr.

We concluded our extraordinary visit around 9:00 AM with a plate of oysters and an omelette at A la Marée. Our guide Mr Sordet had been nice, professional and informative throughout and he waited till we were in the cab before leaving. Some people call dozens of cab before one actually shows up in Rungis.

The visit was definitely worth it and I warmly recommend this to any gourmet or home chef.

 

How could you visit Rungis? I know 4 ways:

  1. join a group tour
  2. Hire an official guide
  3. Go with a registered Rungis buyer/seller
  4. Sneak in with chutzpah
  5. Become a registered buyer

1. join a tour group
Tour groups are organized by Visiter Rungis and leave once a month from Place Denfert Rocherau. See links below.

2. Hire an official guide
Official guide are courteous, English speaking professional guides but they don't come cheap. They wanted to charge €330 prepaid - we settled on €300 cash after the visit. Still an awful lot.

3. Go with a Rungis registered buyer/seller
If you know a registered Rungis buyer or seller, ask him if you can tag along. I don't think this is an option for most people and you won't be able to see the entire market.

4. Sneak in with chutzpah
Only registered buyers and sellers cars can enter Rungis, but if you come by taxi, you will enter all right. I am told the fine people at La Marée will get you an entry pass if you prefer to come by car. As far as I know, you don't need identification or authorisation just to be in Rungis. Ask for a cab to drop you off at La Marée and walk to the Pavillon de la Marée just opposite. There is a big vending machine selling white CSI-like outfits for €2. You need those to enter the halls. The sellers will immediately see you don't belong. The reason is they know each buyer personally. Just say you are visiting and they should leave you alone.

5. Become a registered buyer
Apparently it does not take much to become a registered buyer. With €20 and some perseverance, you can become a buyer at the counter of the Marché International de Rungis. Come with a commercial registry extract if you own a business or say you are a journalist. You can even order online. I'll try this next time.

Once you are inside, you will probably not get the same price or quality as a knowledgeable professional. But sometimes choice and freshness are just as important as price.

 

Visiter Rungis
http://www.visiterungis.com
info@visiterungis.com

+33 (0) 0892 700 119
Rungis' official travel agency, they organize group tours and private visits - for a fee.

Philippe Bardet
philbardet@hotmail.com
+33(0) 06 78 65 31 43
Our guide from Visiter Rungis. Extremely nice, patient and knowledgeable, he speaks fluent English, French, German and ... Norwegian. Highly recommended!

A la Marée
Google Map
2 Place des Pécheurs
Marché International de Rungis
Phone +33 (0) 01 46 86 90 90
Open 24/7
Gastronomic fish restaurant cum bistrot right in the center of Rungis. Eat Paris' freshest fish in the middle of the night and then hop into the market for a peek.

Marché International de Rungis
http://www.rungisinternational.com
Rungis Accueil
24 rue des Meuniers
94152 Rungis cedex
Phone: +33 (0) 01 41 80 80 75
Fax: +33 (0) 01 41 80 80 79
cartes.acces@semmaris.fr
Published 19/12/2006
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61 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by thomas brundage
  • on: 24/02/2007
I will be in Paris in March 2007 and plan to try to tour Rungiswhile I
am there. Your preview and information look great. Thank You!
  • #2
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 25/02/2007
Thomas, thanks for the comment. Let me know how it went!
  • #3
  • Comment by Peter Evans
  • on: 27/02/2007
I visited RUNGIS last November as part of a UN ECE Meat Standards
delegation and we were their to view the Offal and meat market. I have
been in the meat industry for 45 years and this was the greatest
display of meat products that I have ever seen. We started at 0445AM
and by 0800 it was time for breakfast (or lunch for the market
people)at the market offal restaurant. The serving was Calf Head Mask
(boned out calf head) rolled and boiled served on a bed of greens and a
garnish of garlic source and a glass of red wine to wash it down
followed by choc - desert. hat a great start to the day. We spent the next 10 hours at meetings in the building debating offal products.What a great experience it is to visit Rungis.
  • #4
  • Comment by hon
  • on: 19/03/2007
The product is wonderful, but how to get in touch with the supplier. looking forward to your kindly reply, thank you.
  • #5
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 26/03/2007
Which product do you refer to? I don't think there are any suppliers at Rungis, most people are either wholesalers or buyers.
  • #6
  • Comment by jonathan park
  • on: 07/04/2007
You are sick... get a real job... you inconsiderate rabbit killer... you are lower than a pig.
  • #7
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 11/04/2007
Jonathan, I will try to post an obituary for the rabbit.
  • #8
  • Comment by Parshu Narayanan
  • on: 25/04/2007
I am a Hindu, whose Indian heritage includes the world's greatest vegetarian cuisines  and I must confess to some Chainsaw massacre-style horror and civilizational "clashing" at seeing boxes of colourful little birds and rabbits,bags of brains and hearts, heads of pigs and calves and so forth - I am very sorry for feeling so judgemental, and 60% of my countrymen would eat most of these things, but I cant help feeling that they and you Westerners are neither refined nor civilized and those who eat only what grows on God's good earth (yours truly, for instance) are on an ethically and culturally higher plane.
  • #9
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 27/04/2007
Parshu, indeed it is very difficult but for the most hard-core meat eater not to feel for the slaughtered animals sold in Rungis. Many of the people who eat them would hesitate if they saw the animal alive or freshly killed. I agree. But who am I to disguise the reality of Rungis to the visitors? If you decide to visit once, please know there is a large flowers hall too.
  • #10
  • Comment by parshu.narayanan
  • on: 29/04/2007
Of course you are right. On calm reflection, there is no culture without some perverse traditions. The best one can hope for is humane slaughter.
  • #11
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 30/04/2007
Quite right indeed - I read in Mircea Eliade's book 'L'inde', a recollection of his travel through Indian in the 1930's that he witnessed locals who kept a crocodile alive for days with his tail partly cut for the meat. Keeping him alive ensured fresh meat. It's really hard to sum up a culture just with a few horrible anectodes and we must agree that there is more to France than pressed ducks, snails and frog legs.
  • #12
  • Comment by richard hawke
  • on: 03/05/2007
Thanks for the information, I am going to visit Rungis next week can't wait!
  • #13
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 07/05/2007
Richard, send me some pictures of your visit if you can and enjoy!
  • #14
  • Comment by natalie
  • on: 10/05/2007
How could you kill all of these animals! What did they do to you?
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 14/05/2007
Natalie, rest assured that these animals were quite dead already when I arrived in Rungis. But I admit Rungis is no place for vegetarians and might turn you into one if you stay too long!
  • #16
  • Comment by Erin
  • on: 31/05/2007
Your sick, wtf is wrong with you people. Anyone who likes to see dead animals is a freak, and seriously needs to get a life. I'm not like a pet person or anything, but animals have feelings you know, pigs scream when their head is being sawed off, dogs wince when their kicked. Freaks.
  • #17
  • Comment by psyduck
  • on: 13/06/2007
Amazing! Thanks for sharing your trip with the rest of the world. As a cook who can spend an hour at a regular market, that place looks just incredible to me.Also, your tour guide looks like Ben Gazzara.
  • #18
  • Comment by Harv
  • on: 25/06/2007
Interesting place! I believe Chef Anthony Bourdain's show, called No Reservations, was there in the game hall a few years ago. To those that made rude remarks, I would say that you see plenty of "dead animals" in your supermarket, just not in it's original form. Do you go yell at the butcher there? Do you chastise the customers purchasing meat? These photos show your food before it's been processed into unrecognizable parts.
  • #19
  • Comment by Arvind Kapoor
  • on: 30/06/2007
I am a student I had studied about Rungis Terminal Market and had worked on its implementation in India.... I had a dream to visit Rungis Market once
  • #20
  • Comment by halim
  • on: 13/07/2007
I would like to visit this centre to enhance my experience in logistic and packaging system of international standard It will well managed
  • #21
  • Comment by H. F. Lee
  • on: 31/07/2007
I am interested in visiting something not every typical tourist would like to see. I have heard of the Paris Wholesale Market and would like to visit. Your article provides the best info and direction on how to get there. It is great as far as I am concerned!
  • #22
  • Comment by Debopriyo
  • on: 21/08/2007
Fantastic pictures...  The birds are mainly grouse, partridge and mallard (duck) and the furry animals are rabbits. They represent the epitome of gastronomy in France and is nothing to be ashamed or sick about. They are bred for eating like chickens or goats in India or for that matter any where in the world.
  • #23
  • Comment by Bruce F
  • on: 24/08/2007
This is a terrific piece.  I have one small suggestion.  You might want to change the title of the piece to "A Visit to Rungis, .....".  Right now it's ungrammatical.I do want to say that I truly enjoy your site. It's great reading.
  • #24
  • Comment by Becky
  • on: 28/08/2007
Hi! Thanks for the article. FYI, the correct website is "www.visiterungis.com". I'd hate for someone to miss out. I just finished watching a rerun of the No Reservations show--it inspired me to visit Rungis when I'm in Paris in a few weeks.
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 29/08/2007
Thanks for the corrections - I have amended the article!
  • #26
  • Comment by Mary
  • on: 02/10/2007
You asked for someone to identify the birds in your picture, well I can definitely say they are Pheasants in the feather, pheasants plucked, cock pheasants, Partridge and Mallard. I would love to visit Rungis with my partner and have a meal at the fish restaurant.
  • #27
  • Comment by Sasha
  • on: 02/10/2007
Did you enjoy your visit?
  • #28
  • Comment by sarat kumar chalasani
  • on: 06/10/2007
I am a 55 year old Indian physician working in Abu Dhabi.This is the first time I am writing a comment. Usually I just read and move on.I wouldn"t eat any of the animals you've shown but your article was simply great. So is your web-site. My congratulations.
  • #29
  • Comment by alisha
  • on: 06/10/2007
i just think your killing too much animals
  • #30
  • Comment by Thomas Stephens
  • on: 24/10/2007
I found your article very insightful, I thank you for putting it up for people like me who just plain enjoy learning about fine gourmet foods, especially from France. Where one day I hope to visit and become a great Chef. Sincerely Thomas Stephens.......Temecula, California
  • #31
  • Comment by mark hollander
  • on: 28/10/2007
Great tour- and the photos were superb- perhaps because of the lack of flash...  A propos to large markets, i have visited The "La Merced" market in Mexico City, Mexico, many times (also massive and very photogenic), and remember seeing an excellent photo essay on the Tokyo fish market (world's largest?).keep 'em coming-  I like your work!
  • #32
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 29/10/2007
Thank you for your comments! I have a big article on Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market on this website too, and would very much enjoy visiting Mexico's La Merced.
  • #33
  • Comment by Sonya
  • on: 30/10/2007
Thanks for the great read. Much enjoyed the entertaining comments. My husband works at Rungis (fruit) and I regularly sneak in with a friend to have a look around, though it's hard to soak up the atmosphere when you're not with a "local". La Marée is a must.
  • #34
  • Comment by Joseph Vazhakkoottam
  • on: 14/11/2007
Excellent!!
  • #35
  • Comment by Ellen
  • on: 05/02/2008
What a wonderful site - thank you so much! I am impressed by many of the postings I have read thus far, but this is my favorite! Is there a way to display all of your photos in a post? I would rather not click click click... thanks!!
  • #36
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 05/02/2008
Ellen, all you need is either open your browser window very large, or click on the High Resolution link on top or just use this link http://fxcuisine.com/default.asp?Display=32&resolution=high
I hope this helps!
  • #37
  • Comment by BHUPI
  • on: 08/02/2008
Hello, Thanks for giving really very useful information on your site. thanks a lot
  • #38
  • Comment by Homan
  • on: 26/03/2008
What a perfect wholesale market. I would like to visit there.where can I get more photo about that market? thx for all
  • #39
  • Comment by castorp
  • on: 27/03/2008
This is just amazing. I don't see the point of people being horrified by dead meat.I just admire a culture that succeed in keeping products fresh, healthy and appealing in such a large scale consumption society ( which in many other countries has turn to industrial and chemical way of making food...)
  • #40
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 27/03/2008
Homan I just bought a nice book about Rungis that you can order from Amazon.fr, or you can visit their website for more pictures.
  • #41
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 27/03/2008
Castorp, thanks for visiting my site!
  • #42
  • Comment by GunnCat
  • on: 23/04/2008
FX, is Rungis as large as Hunts Point Coop?
  • #43
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 23/04/2008
GunnCat, I don't know the place you mention but Rungis is huge, largest wholesale food market in Europe, you need a car to cover it, so I guess it's probably bigger unless Hunts Point Coop claims to be the largest in the world.
I am fascinated by Rugis. I saw a tour for the first time by Anthony Bordain and I can not wait to go. Your pictures and tour are wonderful. I am a home chef and adore cooking. Please if you have a chance come and attend "Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival" . We had our first this last March and it was tremendously succesful  with such chefs as Alain Passard, Ming Tsai, Jacque Pepin and so many others. Thank you for your time. Wendy
  • #45
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 08/07/2008
Wendy, thanks for visiting, I hope you get to visit Rungis, if you do try to go with a guide and very, very early before the action is out!
  • #46
  • Comment by James
  • on: 20/07/2008
You have done a great job here giving precise informations and good desription of the main theme its like being at your side while been taken around thanks a great deal.
  • #47
  • Comment by Jean
  • on: 02/08/2008
One of the problems with the West mainly is that many have disassociated the meat they eat from the animals and processes which it comes from. Coming from a largely rural island, I'm accustomed to slaughtering animals for food and seeing dead animals. Indeed there is some attraction for me, seeing an animal being prepared for food from scratch. No perversion.

Personally, I can't decide who's more hypocritical whether vegetarians, who go against human omnivorous nature, or omnivores who refuse to watch or acknowledge the animals/processes that they feed from. What kind of animal is man that he can't come to terms with what he eats?

Great articles and photos btw!
  • #48
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Jean, thanks for dropping by! I think we must leave vegetarians to their sensibilities, after all if they don´t want to kill animals to feed themselves, this is their choice and there has been for thousand years men who lived without eating any meat. But those who eat meat should not condemn the slaughtering, otherwise they are just a bunch of holier-than-thous.
  • #49
  • Comment by BARDET Philippe
  • on: 16/01/2009
Hi François Xavier,
I am the guide mentioned in your great article. Thanks for saying that I am a good one ! You gave my cell phone number to your readers and plenty of them call me but to mention my e-mail address as well should be more practical I guess if you don't mind.( philbardet@hotmail.com ) Thank you in advance. I recently visited the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. I had been invited by Mr Keiichi Suzuki President of Tsukiji Uoichiba one of the main wholesalers, a wonderful trip into the Japanese seafood world.
Best regards.
Philippe
  • FX's answer→ Bonjour Philippe, je suis très heureux d'entendre que mon petit article vous a bien réussi! J'ai ajouté votre adresse email dans le corps de l'article. En effet, Tsukiji est l'un des rares marchés qui puisse rivalisera avec Rungis dans l'impression mémorable qu'il peut faire sur un visiteur. J'espère pouvoir revenir à Rungis dans le futur. Bonne chance d'ici là!

  • #51
  • Comment by Leigh Doy
  • on: 25/05/2009
I found your artical on Rungis very interesting and would like ti know if you could help me. I am a supplier of cheeses in the UK and would like to visit Rungis cheese market on a monthly basis to buy cheeses wholesale. Can you advise on how I sould go about this please. I did try your link for an official buyers pass but it did not work.

Kind Regards
Leigh Doy
Tel 44 (0) 1787473647
  • #52
  • Comment by judith hamery
  • on: 03/03/2010
Speaking as a photographer and not a gourmet, I would like to thank you for saving me a visit to Rungis, where I had been dreaming of going for the past year or two. It is far too antiseptic and hygienic for my photographic taste. For incredible photos, I recommend you visist a "wet market" next time you are in asia, or any outdoor market in Burma/Myanmar, for instance.  If i had gotten up at such an ungodly hour to see those seas of cartons, I would have kicked myself, especially as I am allergic to oysters. Your photos are excellent, however, as you found all the interesting bits, and I enjoyed looking at them.
  • #53
  • Comment by mukul
  • on: 05/07/2010
Its really a great eye opener.. i will try to visit rungis in October. I wanted to know more about being a buyer.. i mean through a registration process. the Links lead to pages which do not give this info.. Help if you can, otherwise i will go to paris and find out more..
  • FX's answer→ I think you can buy whatever you want and pay cash.

  • #55
  • Comment by Maurice Snow
  • on: 21/07/2010
Coming to France in 2012, will definately drop in to take a better look.
To all the vegetarians,
If God did not want us to eat animals ,
he would not have made them out of meat !
  • FX's answer→ Maurice, I hope you'll be able to make this visit at Rungis!

  • #57
  • Comment by Marisa
  • on: 17/08/2010
Me parecio muy bueno el articulo Hace muchos años que con mi marido queremos ir a Rungis.asique despues de leer su articulo pienso que puedo hacerlo.M Bardet habla español? Yo no estare un 2° viernes de mes, sera facil hacerlo otro dia?
Le agradeceria me ayude a elegir Gracias por sus consejos.
Lo saludo Marisa Barbosa
  • #58
  • Comment by ELI
  • on: 14/09/2010
yo quiero ir a rungis,soy vendedora de fruta, es muy dificil registrarse? puede hacerlo en em mismo momento allí?
hay mucha dificultad para llegar desde el centro de paris al mercado? hay algún transporte publico?
  • #59
  • Comment by Andrew
  • on: 10/10/2010
I think if you'd checked in the seafood section you'd have found that much of the seafood would have come from Scottish ports. Truckloads of fresh produce get sent from Scottish ports to France and Spain.
Nice report, does look like a great place to  visit.
I am wildly impressed with your article.  I arrived at your page courtesy of a Google search for the elusive oca tuber (it's obviously a quite round-about way to get to Paris) but, boy, am I glad I did.  I hope you will enjoy Mexico Cooks!, where you will see also see photos of pig heads and various entrails for sale in the markets.
  • #61
  • Comment by Noel Kearney
  • on: 05/04/2011
Visited Paris last week but could not find any way to get to Rungis. Your article was a great way to see what it was all about.  Excellent photographs.

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