Six ans? Oh la la…ou ai-je été?
I could hear my aunt scolding me now. “C’est dommage!”
Yes, a shame, where have I been?
I felt like a tourist for the first time in my city having discovered something amazing that’s been there for a long time.
Chicago’s French Market
Tucked under the Metra trains at 131 N. Clinton Street, you wouldn’t have noticed it if you weren’t a frequent commuter or worked in the West Loop. It’s a couple of blocks from the Washington Brown Line stop and there’s plenty of Pay-to-Park around.
The grand burgundy awning beckons me to enter and suddenly I feel I’m back in Paris. A deep sense of nostalgia envelops me and mixed feelings of happiness and sorrow. I haven’t been to France since 2003. Oh how I miss it. Part of my family lives there although I’m not necessarily missing them, but rather the spirit of French culture, arts and the market.
I recall walking thru an open street market in Paris. The sights, sounds and scents…Mon Dieu! It smelled heavenly in here. When you walk in from Clinton, you’re greeted with a sweet confections counter called Lolli and Pops. I was already making selections in my mind. And it sure wasn’t cheap! One thing to note is that the Chicago French Market is quite expensive. Many things that you could get at your neighborhood European market were marked up significantly.
It’s a small space but packed with many vendors. Vendors who sold frommage (cheese), meats & seafood, raw foods, fresh produce to hot dogs, Vietnamese food, sushi, donuts, coffee and much more.
- Baked Goods
- Bread & Pasta
- Chocolates & Sweets
- Ice Cream & Gelato
- Meat & Poultry
- Special Essentials
- Specialty Drinks
- Wine & Spirits
I decided to get a crepe sandwich called the “Smokehouse” which had shredded chicken, cheese, caramelized onions, and spinach. It was a big roll for $9 and quite delicious!
- Aloha Poke
- Me+B.I. Tea
- Beavers Coffee and Donuts
- Bebe’s Kosher Deli
- Black Dog Gelato
- Buen Apetito
- City Fresh Market
- Delighful Cafe Pastries
- EJ Sushi
- Flip Crepes
- Friekoten Belgian Fries & Beer
- Fumare Meats
- Klay Oven Kitchen
- Le Cafe de Marche
- Les Fleurs
- Little Greek Corner
- Lolli and Pops
- Loops Juice
- Loop Soup
- Outta Da Park Beef & Dogs
- Saigon Sisters
- Vanille Patisserie
- Vegan Now!
My daughter decided on a Surf and Turf Lobster Roll from Da Lobsta. Some guys working the counters were sitting around and even napping. There wasn’t much foot traffic for a weekday. It seemed somewhat empty except for the back bar and cafe area.
We picked up drinks from City Fresh. I was surprised and happy to see them there. I go to their original location on Kedzie (used to be on Montrose). They had a petit et mignon grocery store and fresh meat/poultry/seafood.
What is a French Market without desserts, bonbons, et gateaux? There were many sweets to choose from and all the more reason to go back for another visit.
Our visit was short but memorable. We selected a few other things to take home and made our way out. But not before stopping to get some chocolate. I chatted with the clerk and she asked me how I liked it. I told her that I just found out about it and asked her how long it had been open. She said for six years. Six ans! I was like ‘Oh, wow I’m a Chicagoan and didn’t know about it’. The clerk reassured me that I wasn’t the only one that this happens to. Many people don’t know of it because of it’s location under the train station. I felt only slightly better but more determined to be in the know.
Il n’ya aucune excuse pour moi!
The Chicago French Market is open Monday thru Friday from 7:30am – 7pm; Saturday from 8:30am-5:30pm; closed Sundays. For more pics, head on over to my Flickr.