I have the great fortune to live a few blocks from rue Mouffetard, one of the oldest streets in Paris. As a matter of fact, it is the original Roman road that ran from Paris to Rome via Lyon, with plaques on buildings dating from the late 1500s! It runs from Hemingway’s early stomping grounds, Place de la Contrescarpe just behind the Panthéon, down to St Médard Square, next to St Médard church and the start of avenue des Gobelins.

My first week in Paris, I went exploring around my neighborhood with my new friend Kendall. We crossed Place Monge, took a left, a right and another left and we both stopped in our tracks with a gasp. The most charming cobblestone street lay at our feet.

For piétons (pedestrians) only, rue Mouffetard, or la Mouffe, as they call it, is also the oldest market in Paris, predating the current name to times when this City of Lights was still called Lutèce.

Charming yet unassuming butchers (boucheries), bakers (boulangeries), candlestick makers (just kidding), poissoneries (fish stores), patisseries, magasins du vin (wine stores), and cafés line the street. Lovingly displayed produce such as crates of peppers in every color overflowing onto the tables and cascading mountains of burgundy-red strawberries seduce you. It was hard to take it all in as I was overcome with a feeling of being transported back to the Middle Ages. I thought to myself, “This is Paris! This is why I came here! This is why everyone comes here!”

The market is open daily though many shops will close between 1pm and 4pm and in August, especially the poissonerie. And unfortunately all 3 poisonneries in the neighborhood are owned by the same person so no fish in August or 1pm-4pm. Many of the shops have upgraded and actually extend their counters into the street bringing their delicacies right up to you. If you don’t watch your step you are liable to find yourself face first in a crate of mushrooms or on a table of salmon! Don’t let too many trips go by like I did to stumble upon this little gem of a neighborhood! Put this on your Things I Must Do in Paris list.

Rue Mouffetard, 5th arrondissement, Latin Quarter
Métro: Place Monge (#7), Censier-Daubenton (#7)

  • Iamrhythm@aol.com

    The Rue Mouffetard is truly wonderful and often missed by tourists. You can see where Hemmingway lived and his quote about being poor and happy is right on the wall. Down the street is where DesCartes lived and his famous “I Think Therefore I AM” could be changed to I EAT Therefore I am. Its also known as LA PLACE DE LA CONTRESCARPE and the COUSCOUSERIE right off the place is really great.

  • cucina testa rossa

    i love place de la contrescarpe! i’ve spent many an afternoon people watching at cafe delmas.

  • Graham

    Years ago I used to export very rare plants from England to Paris.My hotel was close to Rue Mouffetarde and I used to arrive and immediately walk into the street. The market was active and I walked right up the street to where it changes to Rue Desartes. Then back to the square for a coffee. It was that sort of between time, people were leaving work.I had some coffee and went to my hotel.Later I emerged to eat in a fish restaurant.By the time I was half way down my bottle of Gros Plantes it was if I had not left the previous month.On one trip I put the water lilies in Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny, the water rats had eaten the earlier ones.I visited a few weeks ago as part of a visit to an exposition on the DS Citroen.It has changed little.

  • Callaghan

    If there is a heaven on earth, then this is it! Mouffetard is the future for Margaret and myself as we enter our dotage. Cafe Delmas is our future home, the market our sustenance and pleasure, the people our joy. A culture that is founded on food and drink can’t be bad.

  • Mary DiMarchi

    Probably my favorite street in Paris. Although all of them are beautiful, this one truly has the feel of a “neighborhood” Good restaurants, not at all touristy. Lots of students, so the prices are right.

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