Fruit and vegetable markets of Paris

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291. The fruit and vegetable markets of Paris are numerous, and are situated in different parts of the town; but the principal is the Marche des Innocens, which may be considered the Covent Garden of Paris. The area of this market, which was established in 1788, exceeds an acre; and it is surrounded by a quadrangular range of sheds open on both sides, with a walk in the centre. There are very few close fruit-shops under these sheds, as in the London market. In the open area, in the centre, potatoes, turnips, carrots, and the commoner and more bulky vegetables, are sold by wholesale. Under the sheds, these and all other vegetables and fruits, with some descriptions of flowers, are sold by retail. Adjoining the market are shops, in which are sold pistachias and other dried fruits, oranges, nuts, &c., burnt onions, burnt carrots, dried pears, plums, apples, and apricots. The onions and carrots are charred, so as to become as black as ink: this effect is produced by baking them slowly in an oven, and taking them out at intervals, during several days. They are used in cookery for colouring soups. Sprigs of orange tree in blossom are, we were told, to be found in this market throughout the year. These are considered essential accompaniments to the dress of bridal parties; and although artificial flowers, perfumed with orange water, are sometimes employed by those who cannot afford the living article, yet the latter is by far the most generally used. The chief market for apples, pears, and grapes, is on the Quai de la Tournelle. The supplies of every kind to these markets are quite equal, and in some respects superior, to those of the London markets. The Marche St. Honore is also for all kinds of garden products; it is of considerable extent, and it well supplied. Besides these general markets, there are several set aside for selling some of the most useful vegetables by wholesale. Of these the potato market is the principal. It is held in the Rue de la Grande Friperie; and, though it has not been established above fifty years, is now one of the most important in Paris. The market for peas and kidneybeans is also a very considerable one. It is held at eight o'clock in the evening, in the Place St. Eustache. There are also separate markets for artichokes, carrots, &c., and one exclusively for the sale of medicinal herbs. This last is held in the Rue de la Poterie, and is under the superintendence of a medical botanist, who is also charged with the examination of all the mushrooms exposed for public sale. Nothing can exceed the order and excellent arrangement of these markets. (Annales de la Societe d' Horticulture, t. ii. p. 32.) This market is remarkable for its supply of early fruits and vegetables, which are only to be had here.