Moufftard/Arène de Lutèce/Mosque/IMA, Paris
Rue Moufettard- has a night market and lots of restaurants in the Latin quarter. It is the hangout for students from the university of Paris. A great place to spend an evening and get a feel for real paris
This is an old narrow street in the 5th arrondissement with numerous shops, restaurants and pubs and a more or less permanent street market.
The street runs from Square Saint-Médard in the south up to Place de la Contrescarpe in the north.
In earlier times this was a desperately poor area, as described by Victor Hugo in Les Misérables and by George Orwell in Down and Out in Paris and London, among many other writers.
Fourth photo: The southern end of Rue Mouffetard is now closed off to motor vehicles most of the time. The whole street is closed off from 10:00 to 18:00 on Sundays and holidays, all year round, for Paris respire (Paris breathes), when the streets in this neighborhood and fifteen other Paris neighborhoods are reserved for pedestrians, cyclists and skaters.
Fifth photo: Square Saint-Médard, at the lower (south) end of the Rue Mouffetard, is the sort of French ‘square’ that puzzles us English speakers because it is not shaped like a square but rather like a circle. This ‘square’ or circle by the church of Saint-Médard is known for its tradition of singing and dancing every Sunday from 11:00 to 14:00, usually led by the singer and accordion player Christian Bassoul.
Next review from July 2013: Les Docks: Center for Fashion and Design
Rue Mouffetard is a popular street with both tourists and locals. There are lots of markets, fromageries, boucheries, patissieries, and many other shops including produce stands at the bottom of the hills. There are also many restaurants both French and ethnic. You will almost always see a busker or two. It is almost always packed with people and full of life except the day that I took these pictures.
Metro stops Daubenton and Gobelins. You can easily walk it from the Pantheon.
We continued our walk in the Latin Quarter located in the 5th arronidissement in the area typically associated with Hemingway - that around rue Descartes and rue Thouin lying between the Panthéon/St Etienne du Mont church and the Arènes de Lutece/Jardin des Plantes.
One of the things I love about Paris are the winding streets, they don't run parallel nor perpendicular but follow ancient trade routes & pilgrim routes through the city, such the rue Saint-Jacques that runs not quite straight and is an old pilgrim route running from Campostela di Santiago in Spain to Cathédral St-Denis just north of Paris and onward to Orléans. Also, you'll notice some of the streets curve in a fashion that follows the path of the Philippe-Auguste enclosure; these include rue de l'Estrapade, rue Thouin, rue du Cardinal-Lemoine and rue des Fossés Saint Bernard (as the wall ran roughly between the 2 latter streets).
1) Ancient well - 9, rue de l'Estrapade - You can see this courtyard and well from the street through a gate; whether or not it's locked, theres no need to ask permission.
2) Wall as back wall of resto - Bistrot de Cigales - 12, rue Thouin
3) Wall - 10, rue Thouin
4) Porte St-Marcel sign - 50, rue Descartres
2 towers are shown in the sign just on either side of rue Descartes. The plaque on the wall may be roughly translated as:
Enclosure of Paris raised by Philippe Auguste about the year 1200. Site of Porte Saint-Marcel known also as Porte Bourdet.
5) Wall in Courtyard - 62, rue du Cardinal-Lemoine - We lucked out when one of the inhabitants of the building came out & allowed us to take a peek!
Photos: February 2006
We are almost finished with our Left Bank portion of the walk in the 5th arrondissement, located just west of the Eglise St-Etienne-du-Mont on rue Clovis, of which you can see the southern side of the church from this location of the wall.
1) Looking down rue Clovis, photo taken from about 7, rue Clovis; you can see St-Etienne-du-Mont background right with the wall to the left.
2) In the 2nd photo you get a great glimpse of the materials used inside the construction of the wall in the top of the photo. It was built of large blocks on either side and filled in the center with rubble.
3) Histoire de Paris telling how Philippe Auguste demanded contributions for the wall.
Histoire de Paris (rough translation):
In 1190, before his departure for the third crusade, Philippe Auguste (1165-1223) required the inhabitants to contribute to the safety of the city by the construction of a wall of approximately 5km, completed about 1210. This wall, ten meters high and crowned with crenellation, was provided with entrances of ten doors. Limited to the west by the fortress of the Louvre, built to protect it in the first years from the 13th century, in the east by the place de Grève, in north by les Halles marketplace, and the south by the Sainte-Geneviève borough, it defined a capital of 250 hectares [about 600 acres]; from now on, the palace, the treasure and the archives are fixed at residence there, even if the king does not always reside there. It acts as the tentative first of union of the three Parisian districts: the "City", religious heart, administrative and judicious, the "City", economic pole located around the ports of Right Bank, and "the incipient University", on the Left Bank.
4) Also, in the 4th photo, you get a much better look at the materials used.
5) See how the building just to the left of the wall used it as a border in its construction?
Photos: February 2006
This is our last stop on the Left Bank portion of the Philippe-Auguste wall walk. Our next stop will be in the Marais in the 4th arrondissement.
1) Rue Jacques Henri Lartigue - This is on a small side street off of rue du Cardinal Lemoine located just behind the Ministère de l'Education Nationale de la Recherche et de la Technologie.
2) Porte St-Victor - portion of the wall inside the post office - 2, rue des Ecoles
Plaque above states:
Enclosure of Philippe Auguste - the erection of Porte Saint Victor built at the beginning of the 13th century, rebuilt in 1568 and cut down in 1684.
3) Part of wall inside Paradis Latin - see angle of building in the upper portion? - 28, rue du Cardinal Lemoine
4) Paradis Latin - 28, rue du Cardinal Lemoine
5) This thin building shows where wall once was - 7 bis, boulevard St-Germain
Photos: February 2006
A unique spectacle : the accordion player of the Marche Mouffetard during the Sunday morning (and ferial day) from 11AM to 2PM.
He is not a simple accordion player and a street singer, he is also a magician who is able to make the croud singing and dancing on old French songs. People distribute the words of the songs in order you can sing with the others. If you wish to see a typical French market with a free performance ...
Have a look at the travelogue 'Rue Mouffetard' to see why he is not a street singer like the others and at the travelogue 'Street Singers' to see his colleagues.
Sometimes you are just lucky. That's the way we felt when we discovered Rue Mouffetard.
The first bit of good luck was our decision to take the Number 7 Metro to the Place Monge stop rather than the Censier-Daubenton stop. Once again, we were on one of our many quests for the best neighborhood market. We were aware that the market ran between the two Metro stops but little else. As it turns out, Rue Mouffetard is a very steep street which happily runs downhill :-) from Place Monge.
The second bit of good luck was the neighborhood itself. This is the kind of place we always seek. The narrow street lined with charming but not ostentatious buildings was teaming with local shoppers who stopped as often to socialize as to purchase the marvelous array of of local offerings. This is more a neighborhood to live in than to visit...still, we truly loved our brief visit.
Intro Photo: From the bottom of the "hill" the charm of Rue Mouffetard reveals itself most clearly. This is a truly vibrant and diverse neighborhood.
Photo 2: On the way down we passes several wonderful bakeries including this place which could have been created for a movie set but was totally authentic.
Photo 3: This building at 134 Rue Mouffetard houses the well known Androquet cheese shop and an Italian deli. The real attraction, however, is the facade which depicts wild boar, deer and many wild birds on the upper floors. The first floor (above the ground floor) depicts pastoral scenes from probably the 18th century.
Photo 4: Details of four of the panels from the facade at 134 Rue Mouffetard.
Photo 5: At the bottom of Rue Mouffetard in the Square Saint Medard is the main fresh market. Immediately behind the produce stands is the 9th Century church St-Médard.
George Orwell's Apartment
6, rue du Pot-de-Fer, tucked betwee rue Mouffetard & rue Tournefort.
This is where the famous English author of 1984 and Animal Farm lived during his Down & Out in Paris & London days where he chronicled his homelessness & deprivation in Paris and in London. What? You haven't read it? Well, you MUST!
I looked for his home my third trip, April 2003. Just as I found it & was gazing up in awe at the building, a grandmotherly French lady decked out in a crisp navy blue trenchcoat stopped to see if I was lost. I told her about Orwell's apartment. She quizzed, "Orwell?" and I thought she didn't know who he was so I wrote out his name and some titles of his books "Animal Farm" and "1984" and she nodded that "oui, oui" she knew who he was. In French, she indicated she'd lived in the area all her life and never knew the great English novelist ever lived there, right around the corner from where she lived. She was very pleased to know!
Photos: November 2007
1) Rue du Pot-de-Fer from rue Mouffetard
2) Rue du Pot de Fer - Just to the right of the bright green awning is George Orwell's apartment.
3) 58-62, Rue Mouffetard - entrance to rue de pot-de-fer.
One day, I was out in search of George Orwell's apartment during his Down & Out in Paris & London days. Just as I found it & was gazing up in awe, a grandmotherly French lady decked out in a crisp navy blue trenchcoat stopped to see if I was lost. I told her about his apartment. She quizzed, “Orwell?” and I thought maybe she didn't know who he was so I wrote out his name and some titles of his books Animal Farm, 1984 and she nodded that "oui, oui, Orwell" she knew who he was. She indicated she'd lived in the area all her life & never knew the great English novelist ever lived there!
In gratitude, she took me by the hand & led me to the courtyard of her building, once convent of the Benedictines, mentioned in Les Miserables. She wrote down a few words for me:
“C’est le couvent ou Jean Valjean a ‘élevé’ Cosette.”
I used these later to piece together the story along with the (English-translated) description from Victor Hugo himself (see website below).
In any case, when we stepped inside the courtyard there hung this MASSIVE beautifully carved wooden door that surely hung during the building’s convent days. The address is 18, rue Tournefort (on the corner of rue du Pot-de-Fer) & at the corner above the modern-day blue street sign is the hammered-in old street name, Rue Neuve-Ste-Genevieve. So, apparently, the Benedictine nuns, Ladies of the Holy Sacrament, were cloistered here in Paris at the beginning of the century on the Rue Neuve-Sainte-Genevieve. They wore a white wimple, and had on their breasts a Holy Sacrament about three inches long, in silver gilt or gilded copper.
Unless you can find someone from that building willing to grant you entry, the only way you'll be able to see it for yourself is if you rent an apartment there:
Photo: November 2007
During the regime of Julius Caesar, Ancient Rome conquered France. When they reached the place that now is Paris, all they saw was some life at the Ile de la Cité. Those were the Germanic tribe called Parisii.
The Romans decided not to set up their base on that island, but at the southern bank of the river. This new town they called Lutetia. At the end of the second century A.D. they built a theatre at the place that now is situated between the Pantheon and the Jardin des Plantes. In 280 A.D. though, the rebellious Germanics destroyed the arena, at the end of the Roman domination in the area.
Years passed, the name Lutetia was turned into Paris, named after its original inhabitants, and the theater was covered by buildings and even a part of the citywalls. In 1869 the ancient Roman arena was rediscovered and at the beginning of the 20th century it was completely restaured.
Today it is not a spectacular place to see compared to other Roman theaters around Europe. Instead it is a nice park-ish area that has the shapes of a theater. It is often visited by students or families who want to have a picknick or play a game of "pétanque".
Address: Rue des Arènes / Rue de Navarre
Metro: Jussieu / Cardinal Lemoine
At the south of the Jardin des Plantes, you will find a little piece of Northern Africa in Paris. Here, the Mosque of Paris was built between 1922 and 1926, to honour the fallen soldiers from the French colonies in Northern Africa who fought during the World War I.
The building has a high minaret of 33 meters, that is beautifully decorated and topped with a green roof. The doors of the building are made of wood that have great carving in it, and all the many pillars are decorated by multi coloured mosaic. The building has strong Spanish-Morish influences, which is very clear in its inner square, that looks like the Alhambra in Granada.
"La Mosquée" is not only a house to pray, it is the centre of Islam in Paris. It also has a library and an education centre where quran-lessons can be followed. The building is open for visitors every day except fridays and sundays from 9-12 and from 14-18 o'clock.
Don't forget to try a glass of mint tea at the "salon de thé" at the other side of the building. (check out my restaurant-tip for more info)
Place de la Contrescarpe is a lovely square in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Below the square lies Rue Mouffetard, full of cafes, restaurants, bars and a great morning market. There plenty of cafes on square and a nice fountain in the centre.
Along with the baths at Cluny, the Arenes de Lutece are the only remaining Roman ruins in Paris. Lutece was the Roman name for Paris and the Arenes de Lutece consists of an amphitheatre which dates from the 1st century AD. After the barbaric invasions in the 3rd century and the subsequent decline of Lutece the amphitheatre was built over and by medieval times ahd completely disappeared. However, the name of the area kept the name Arenas, though no one knew where the amphitheatre was to be found. It wasn't rediscovered until the 19th century during the construction of Rue Monge.
Nowadays the Arenas are a park, very popluar with locals and with vistors interested in seeing the well preserved amphitheatre. The Arenas are open every day and there are 3 entrances from the surrounding streets.
This building was one of Francois Mitterrand's 'Grand Projects'. It was built in 1987-88 and is considered one of Mitterrand's successes. It pulled together a number of organizations and services for the Moslem community in Paris as well as for visitors interested in Islamic culture. The is a Hamman, a tearoom, a books hop, a film theatre as well as frequent major exhibitions.
It is located at 1, rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard next to University of Paris VI along the Seine. You can find out more about its architecture on this site: http://www.imarabe.org/perm/ima/batiment_main.html