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  • Writer's pictureParisian Niche

The Streets of Paris... Rue Mouffetard


It's late springtime in Paris - the most perfect time to play flâneuse all throughout the city. On some of these adventures, I've been lucky enough to share with you some other streets, like: rue Cremieux, rue de la Colombe, rue du Nil and rue Montorgueil.


On these walks, I have discovered the Turbigo Angel, and the the Medici Column, Today, let's take a P'Niche peek to see more about rue Mouffetard, located in the heart of Paris' Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement, located on the Rive Gauche (Left Bank)...


Not only is rue Mouffetard one of Paris' most picturesque streets, but also one of its oldest...


Most imagine that the street has been around since the Neolithic times and eventually became the main thoroughfare that Italians would use to travel back to Rome.


Back then during ye olden times, the Romans called Paris Lutetia when settling and you can even see part of the Roman arena ruins nearby. Truly an old soul of a street...



Believe it or not, the name of the street most likely stems from the French word for skunk, which is mouffet. (PS - is that the cutest name for this li'l smelly fella or what?!)


While not necessarily inhabited by skunks, the street was likely named for the businesses there, such as: various animal skinners, etc.



The other (very plausible) theory is that the street takes it's name from the hill that was located at the end of the street, called Mont Cetarius. Eventually switching to the moniker Mont Cétard, then to Mont Fétard, it ended up being called rue Mouffetard...


Very handy info for your Parisian trivia nights, P'Niche can assure you!



In the 15th century, the Saint Médard church was built at the southern end of the street at No 105 (in the Flamboyant, Neoclassical style). The Roman Catholic church still operates today and is a much overlooked treasure.


Also, did you know Saint Médard is the patron saint to protect you against bad weather and/or toothaches?


Now you know!


Moving forward, we are lucky to note that much of the street escaped the massive overhaul that Baron Haussmann undertook to widen street and make other such improvements.


Due to its central location near the Montagne Sainte-Genevieve, much of this old Roman thoroughfare remained untouched.


That said, the road was cut in half during the renovations, in order to create the Avenue des Gobelins. We have to admit that the teddy bears seem a fair trade off.


Also on top of Montagne Sainte-Genevieve is the church of Saint Étienne-du-Mont, which eagle eyed P'Nichers will see and note that this staircase was where Gil began his many adventures in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris with Hemingway and pals...



Speaking of Hemingway and pals, rue Mouffetard was indeed one of their literary haunts, with Hemingway including it in his masterpiece "A Moveable Feast." He described it as "that wonderful, narrow, crowded street, which led into Place Contrescarpe."


We covered this gem in our Parisian Page Turners book club - as always, feel free to come read with us!



Interestingly, Hemingway did not mention the "hidden" river of Paris - La Bievre.


The textile industries of the day (and for centuries before) had use the river a dumping ground, making it bad for people's health (and it smelled bad) so they "buried" it in 1912, but you can still many plaques at the very bottom of rue Mouffetard of days, and rivers, gone by.



These days, the street is a modern and bustling market way.


The outstanding outdoor market runs daily from Tuesday through Sunday (note: Sunday morning only).


The best day to enjoy this market, mixing and mingling with the locals would be Saturday and Sunday mornings, around 10am or so, when the most opportunity for both shopping and people watching exists.


It's said that even Amélie (of the famed movie of the same name) loved to frequent this street - especially La Verre à Pied. The locals rush in for the rabbit leg in mustard, a house specialty.



A few more addresses to check out:


Le Vieux Chêne at No 69 - one of Paris' oldest bars, dating back to the 18th century

Fromagerie Beillevaire at No 118 - a charming family run cheese shop


Poissonerie Quoniam at No 107 - boasting some of the best fresh oyster in town


Don't want to make your own apéro? Try:

TRAM Café

47, rue de la Montagne Ste Geneviève




Rue Mouffetard was also immortalized in this wonderful black and white street photograph, taken in 1954, by the famed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)


The image (a highlight of the artist's portfolio) takes its name from rue Mouffetard, where the charming scene is set. This joyful moment captures a young boy, named Michel Gabriel, as he totes two bottles of wine. To the left, behind him two little girls (a bit blurry) seem bemused, but enjoy the moment. Further behind still are two adult women, onlooking, and also blurry.

Prints of this photo exists at the Henri-Cartier Foundation (Paris), The Museum of Fine Arts (Houston) and the Museum of Modern Art (New York City).


Parisian life at its finest!



Want to check out rue Mouffetard? Great!


rue Mouffetard, 75005


Métro: Censier-Daubenton (Line 7)

Place Monge (Line 7)

Cardinal Lemoine (Line 10)


Bus Lines: 27, 28, 47, 63, 75, 83, 89

Stop Lycée Henri IV on the 75 and 89



So, P'Nicher, are you ready to stroll this very historic market place and street? Have you already been? Let us know in the comments below et à bientôt!



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Debra Borchert
Debra Borchert
Jun 12

Merci for the treasured Henri Cartier-Bresson photo. What fabulous emotion and movement he captured. Once again, thanks for sharing this gem.

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chrissy
Jun 12
Replying to

thank YOU! this was a super interesting one to research and I cannot wait to walk the street once again - speak soon and merci encore!

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