Rungis: A land of milk and honey

Ever heard about Rungis? It’s the world biggest food-market. It’s only 13 kilometres distance from Notre-Dame, the very centre of Paris, and yet it’s another world: alive at night, asleep in the day.

Rungis is huge. It’s as big as a town, fascinating as a country. It’s a world of its own. With streets, 65 kilometres in all, a rail station, restaurants, even travel agencies. Imagine an area the size of the state of Monaco, 232 hectares, covered all over with halls. Nine halls for fruit and vegetables, seven halls for meat, as many for diary products and cheese, even more for flowers. Got the picture?

A merry-go-round

Rungis is the world biggest wholesale market for food, a merry-go-round of people, commodities, numbers. 1,5 million tons of food arrive and leave each day, 30 000 people, they come to work or to shop. It’s a money machine with an annual turnover of 7,767 billion of Euro, nothing less than the GDP of Georgia or Cambodia. A town? No, more a country, a land of milk and honey, a parallel word, somehow inaccessible, somehow unexpected.

Rungis is paradise. Not for those working here every night, of course, but for those visiting. “If you are a priest, you want to visit the Vatican. If you are a chef, a cook, you want to come and see this”, that’s how the personal chef of George Bushput it, just before he got dismissed (yes, it was the time of the war in Iraq when French fries weren’t a la mode.

Abundance and quality

Rungis is paradise, it’s abundance, exuberance, it’s quality too. The hundreds and hundreds of Parisian butchers, greengrocers, fromageries, the market men, they all buy their products here. Not to mention the restaurants. The cooler circuit is constant, the logistics are perfect. You find here fruits from all five continents, fish from all oceans and there is no product that couldn’t be delivered in under than 36 hours to any place, no matter where, no matter how far.

Runigs is unique. The flower market of Aaslmeer in the Netherlands is, of course, as big as that of Rungis. The fish markets of Tokyo and Barcelona might match with the one in Rungis, too. But there is no other place on world that can compete with the whole.

Always around freezing

But more than the size, it’s the atmosphere that matters here. The people, the jokes, the laughter. They’re proud, too. It’s hard work here, not only because they work at night, starting at three in the morning. It’s also pretty cold here, in many halls the temperature is around freezing no matter if its summer or winter outside.

But why am I telling you? You should go yourself to see this crazy place. Rungis organizes regular visits . For 80 € they take you in a bus from Paris to Rungis and back. You’ll even have breakfast after the visit. After? Of course, it all starts at 5 in the morning.

Photo: © MAP
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