Nestled in the West Loop of Chicago is a little gem where you can find the best food and shopping at the Chicago French Market.
The Chicago French Market offers visitors a unique and authentic taste of France.
With an impressive array of fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, fine wines, and tasty pastries, the market is a must-visit destination for both tourists and locals alike.
But have you ever wondered about its history? Let’s take a journey through time and explore the fascinating story behind this beloved culinary gem.
A Guide to The Chicago French Market
The History of the Chicago French Market
The idea for the Chicago French Market traces its roots back to the open-air street markets that have been a longstanding tradition throughout France.
These markets, which typically feature numerous vendors selling fresh produce, meat, fish, cheese, bread, and other products in a communal space, have long been known for fostering a sense of community and showcasing the best that local artisans have to offer.
The concept of such markets inspired founders Leslie and Drew Stoller to make it an experience in the Windy City.
They believed that Chicagoans would appreciate a market that offered high-quality local goods while simultaneously encouraging interaction between buyers and sellers.
The Stollers teamed up with Bensidoun USA – an offshoot of Europe’s largest operator of open-air markets –and together, they set about making their dream a reality.
In 2009, after years of planning, development, and collaboration with local vendors and artisans, the Chicago French Market opened its doors to the public.
Initially housed beneath Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, it provided commuters with a convenient space to not only shop for quality food but also savor delicious dishes prepared by some of Chicago’s finest culinarians.
How to Get to the Chicago French Market
📍131 N Clinton St
The Chicago French Market is located at 131 N. Clinton Street in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. It’s easily accessible by public transportation.
You can take the Green Line or the Pink Link “L” to the Clinton stop.
The market is just a couple of blocks south of the station. If you’re driving, there is ample paid parking available nearby.
Chicago French Market Hours
The market is open six days a week from Monday through Saturday. It is closed on Sunday.
- Monday through Friday | 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
- Saturday | 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Chicago French Market Parking
You can find convenient ground-level parking at the Metra Market parking lot situated just north of Randolph, with access from both Canal and Clinton streets.
Feel free to enjoy free parking for an hour if you spend $20 or more at the market – just remember to keep your receipts as proof of purchase.
However, if you park for over an hour, standard rates will apply.
Want to stay longer than one hour and save? Enter the parking garage by 3:00 PM and exit by 5:00 PM during weekdays — parking is only $10.00.
There’s also a 15-minute parking zone in front of the Market on Clinton for quick visits.
But why not consider taking public transportation? It’s eco-friendly, hassle-free, and helps reduce traffic congestion!
What to Expect at the Chicago French Market
As soon as you step into the Chicago French Market, you’ll immediately feel the lively ambiance, as if you’ve been transported to a market in France!
With your senses tingling from the delightful sights, sounds, and aromas around you, explore the market’s various sections and witness their unique offerings.
Here’s a taste of what awaits you.
You can find treats for your furry friend at the Barking Spot Bakery. There are also intriguing maps and other items at ReDefined Maps.
Produce and Flowers
From mouthwatering heirloom tomatoes and fancy mushrooms to vividly colorful flower bouquets, the produce and flower vendors have a fantastic array of fresh, local goods.
Meats and Seafood
Moving on to the meat and seafood section, high-quality products like smoked meats, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, fresh oysters, and wild-caught fish beckon.
These are found at Suarez Market or Clinton St. Smoked Meats.
If freshly baked goodies are more your style, the bakery vendors serve up heavenly loaves of bread, pastries, and desserts – whether it’s a crusty baguette or a melt-in-your-mouth croissant that you crave.
Stop at Vanille Patisserie for macaroons and beautifully baked creations.
When hunger strikes, the Chicago French Market’s prepared food vendors have an incredible variety of ready-to-eat meals on offer.
You can indulge in French cuisine classics like crepes, or explore international cuisine with options like sushi, Cuban sandwiches, Belgian fries with an array of sauces for dipping, tacos, and soul food.
Don’t worry if you have dietary restrictions – there are plenty of vegan and gluten-free choices too! So let your senses guide you through this unforgettable market experience.
Chicago French Market Events
- Marche de Noel – holiday gifts from artisans
As you step into the Chicago French Market, you’ll immediately feel the vibrant energy. The market is cleverly divided into several sections, each boasting its unique treasures.
Insider Tips for Visiting The Chicago French Market
To make the most of your visit to the Chicago French Market, here are some insider tips to keep in mind.
- The Chicago French Market can get crowded during peak hours, especially on weekends and during business lunch hours. The best time to visit the market for lunch is to arrive by 11:30 AM or after 1:00 PM.
- Some of the vendors at the Chicago French Market offer free samples of their products. Take advantage of this to try new foods and discover your favorites.
- Vendors may prefer cash or a contactless payment method. Make sure to bring plenty of cash and a credit card to avoid inconveniences.
- The West Loop neighborhood surrounding the Chicago French Market is home to many other great restaurants and attractions. Take some time to explore the area and discover new gems.
- While some vendors provide bags, it’s always a good idea to bring reusable bags to help reduce waste and make carrying your purchases easier.
- Pets are not allowed inside the market, with the exception for service animals.
Final Thoughts on the Chicago French Market
If you’re ever in Chicago and looking for a foodie’s haven, don’t miss the Chicago French Market. And, we’ve selected a few more articles about Chicago with you in mind!
- 60+ Things to Do: The Ultimate Chicago Bucket List
- Your Guide to Visiting Chicago: All You Need to Know
The vendors there have everything from fresh produce to prepared meals, so there’s truly something for everyone.
Speaking from experience, my tip is to explore the surrounding neighborhood to fully enjoy everything the market has to offer.