You can hear the whistles and tweets before you even reach the last step of the Cité Metro Station. If you got off at this station on a Sunday with plans to visit the famous Marché aux fleurs (Paris Flower Market) you’re in for a big surprise. The flower traders take the Sunday off and the grounds turn into the “Marché aux Oiseaux” – the Paris Bird Market.
From Monday through Saturday, the Louis-Lépine square on the Ile de la Cité is home to the famous flower market – but from 8am on Sundays the Bird Traders take over. Cages upon cages are rolled out, stacked and hung from the green 19th Century Stalls.
Despite only taking up two sides of the circa 20 meter long market – hundreds, if not thousands of birds are offered here on display. Canaries, Budgies, Parrots, various exotic and presumably expensive Pigeon and Chicken breed are openly on display waiting to be sold off.
The sellers at the Paris Bird Market are a mixture of farmers selling off their excess “stock”, specialised breeders and what seem like “bird” catchers who offer a dime a dozen birds stuffed in rather small looking cages.
While for most the main attraction might be the birds, it seems like most locals who wander through this street take the opportunity to pick up some bird seed and flowers. If one did decide to buy a Bird here, you’d have a plethora of cages and accessories to pick from as well.
What started off with amazement – the sounds and colours are mesmerizing – soon turned into a slight pang of guilt. While the nature of keeping house pets is debatable, seeing over a dozen birds cramped into a small cage does seem somewhat cruel. Cages upon cages, one cant help but think that a bird should be free and not kept in a cage. After inspecting a rather sad looking caged gray parrot, the once friendly chirps don’t seem so uplifting anymore.
Of course the Marché aux Oiseaux has more to offer than just exotic birds. If you are on the lookout for some goldfish and hamsters – or even the occasional rabbit, you’ll be sure to find your fill here.
Somewhat tauntingly the common pigeons (the only bird which is quite universally despised) roam around the bustling Bird Market, freely picking up the scattered birdseed. An ironic fate that their undesirability has guaranteed their freedom.
If you’re wandering through Paris for a Sunday stroll – the Bird Market is worth passing by and checking out. Sadly the visit left us slightly more depressed than happy. If you’re not a fan of Zoos give this one a miss. If you are already in the neighbourhood then go and check out the “Point Zéro” which is just around the corner.
Marché aux Oiseaux – Paris Bird Market
Sunday 8am – 19pm
Place Louis Lépine – Quai de la Corse
75004 Paris, France
How to get there: Just get off at the Metro 4 stop Cité and you’re already there.