Rungis International Market, located just outside Paris, is not just any market; it is the world’s largest wholesale market for fresh produce. This market deals with fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, cheese, and even fresh flowers in quantities so large that an entire train station and highway exit has been built to serve it. A hub for Parisian restaurants and great standings, Rungis has distinguishing clients, and only the freshest, highest quality products can hope to be sold here.
Moreover, the market is nothing short of a spectacle. Its sheer size and scale are awe-inspiring. To visualize this, just imagine each day, more than 6,000 trucks arriving at the market, where around 30,000 employees and customers roam through the 9 big halls on the 232-hectare area. Rungis Market is a city of its own where the waste generated is recycled, and the energy generated by the incinerator is used to heat up the market itself – and even Orly Airport.
Despite its immense size and reputation, Rungis is a place that keeps a tight grip on quality and freshness. The buyers scrutinize products thoroughly, taking nothing short of perfection. The high level of scrutiny is a testament to the market’s goal of serving only the best quality goods.
So, what is it like to navigate Rungis during rush hour? The documentary crew gets a firsthand experience of it and the challenges of dealing with seafood, which is at the heart of Rungis. At 10 pm, rush hour in Rungis begins at A40, the biggest market hall for seafood in Europe. Here the Wholesaler Pascal is specialized in high-quality seafood from France, and his goal is to sell all his products the same day.
Moving through the market, we see butcher Christophs working between innumerable halves of pork and beef in the meat pavilion at 12 am. At 5° Celsius outside, the temperature hardly matters, and for Christophs, it’s just another day at work.
As the sun begins to rise, so does the pace of a day at Rungis. Now there is hectic in the fruit pavilion as prices are defined and supplies checked, as you can find the most exotic creations here. And what happens to the fruit that cannot be sold? Well, it’s given to associations that provide food to people in need, which speaks to the market’s focus on giving back.
All the bustle comes to an end by 6 am when thousands of trucks, delivery vans and cars hurry to get back to their customers, restaurants, and supermarkets. The market begins to sleep until the evening when everything starts again.