Charcuterie Louis Ospital, Hasparren France


Few people would guess, on passing this nondescript butcher shop in the small Basque town of Hasparren,  that they are passing perhaps the most famous charcuterie in France.  This tiny store front was first opened in the 1970’s by Louis Ospital, who was part of a tiny group of hog farmer and ham makers (3 of each to be exact) who, in an effort to foster a return to traditional methods of making Jambon de Bayonne, created the Jambon Label Ibaiama.  The label Ibaiama (which means “mother source” in Basque) includes only hams made from traditional Basque hog breeds using traditional handcrafting and aging methods, and has come to be recognized as the finest ham made in France.

Louis’ son Éric has since taken over the family business and become something of a celebrity in the process (yes , a celebrity ham maker…only in France) whose hams, sausages and boudin are served by who’s who of French restaurants (when visiting his ham production and aging facility, one of the first things you notice is that each ham is marked with the name of the restaurant for which it is destined, having purchased it before its 21 months of aging even started.)


Jambon Ibaiana from maison Ospital and its ideal accompaniments: good bread and butter.

Despite his celebrity status, the current day charcuterie of Éric Ospital is almost unchanged since his father’s day, with an amiable mamie behind the counter taking her time to serve a queue of longtime local clients. The ham is sliced by hand or on a slicer (older clients seem to prefer their ham sliced thicker, and therefore by hand) and the chipolatas and basque boudins wrapped to order in waxed butcher paper.  The shop still offers fresh pork and Basque specialties “en conserve” in addition to its famous hams and cured meats.  Some things don’t change after all.

 Boucherie, Charcutier, Trateur L. Ospital
47, rue Jean Lissard, 64240 Hasparren France

05 59 29 63 06

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Marché d’Aligre / Marché Couvert Beauvau, Paris

Photo: Trip Advisor 2014

On the borderline between the 11th and 12 arrondissements and to the east of the Bastille is a neighborhood that is referred to alternately by reference to its main thoroughfare (the Faubourg Saint-Antoine) or its metro stop (Ledru Rollin), or, as often as not, by its market, the Marché d’Aligre.  Which makes sense, because the market is  the heart of this neighborhood, and like its neighborhood, it is an amalgam of the very traditional and the current, old and young, bursting with the flavors of France, which in modern Paris means also North Africa, the Levant and Asia.

The market consists of one of the oldest covered market in Paris, the Marché Couvert Beauvau, and the street market that spills out of the Beauvau into place  and rue d’Aligre , from which the market takes its name.  Quite simply put, this market is one of my favorite spots anywhere, and one that I almost never miss when I am in Paris.

Packed with too much stuff for any description to do it justice, it’s a market that demands that you just wade in and experience it.  Here are some of my favorites:

Poissonerie “La Marée Beauvau”, inside the covered market, a beautiful selection of fish and shellfish, and they have a single table for 2 where you can enjoy a plate of oysters and a glass of muscadet.

Boulangerie Moisan, an organic bakery facing the market  The fennel and raisin rolls are fantastic.

Fromagerie Philippe Langlet inside the covered market offers the most amazing selection of goat cheeses I have ever seen.

Boucherie “Les Provinces” along rue d’Aligre behind the market vegetable stalls;  you can select your preferred cut of “bio”  beef, lamb or veal butcher case, then pay the 9 euro “droit de cuisson” to have them cook it and serve it to you with salad and roasted potatoes in the small dining room next door.

At the south end of rue d’Aligre, Halal butcher shops predominate, some with rotisseries offering roasted merguez sausages in addition to the more usual roasted chickens.

The surrounding neighborhood is particularly rich in restaurants, bars and wine bars, like the legendary Le Baron Bouge, (formerly Le Baron Rouge…it’s a legal thing, don’t ask) where shoppers  meet for a glass of wine and a plate of charcuterie after the market closes.  Also not far are Chardenoux, Au Vieux Chene, l’Ebauchoir and Le Siffleur de Ballons, all places that find their way on to my list when friends ask for Paris recommendations.

Marché d’Aligre / Marché Couvert Beauvau
Place d’Aligre and along rue d’Aligre between rue Charenton and Faubourg St.-Antoine
Paris 12eme

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