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)