Rue Mouffetard was very close to our apartment in the 5ème last summer. Every Sunday around noon, there is much singing and dancing in the streets. They pass around songsheets and everyone has just the most delightful time singing and watching the dancers. Some of my favorite photos were made right here!
This is a lovely little area which is the perfect place for lunch after you have been to the Pantheon as it is a short walk away. There are lots of ancient little shops selling all sorts of wares, cafes, patisseries and of course ice cream shops. There is also a lovely fresh food market at the Place Contresarpe where Rue Mouffetard meets Rue de Lacepede. The fresh fruit available there is the best of the best and the prices are well within anybody's budget.
So touristy today, the rue Mouffetard could also be in the "Tourist trap" tips. But it is also one of those places that is almost uniquely Parisian in its concept and atmosphere, especially on market days, when there are mainly locals until 11 in the morning. It is also full of things to see if you take the trouble to lift your eyes a little from the shop windows and wares that abound on the market stalls. Starting just before the Place de la Contrescarpe it is an easy stroll down to the St. Medard Church.
"Au Negre Joyeux" - Sign of an old chocolate maker. Actually on the place de la Contrescarpe.
"Butchers sign" - At no. 6.
"Le Vieux Chene" - Holds the oldest Licence IV in Paris (Licence IV = the right to serve alcohol), but has been disfigured by the disappearance of the old sign, dating from the 1800's, and replaced by a thing !!! in resin, that I have voluntarily omitted from the photo. At no. 69.
"A la Bonne Source" - at no. 122. Apparently there is a well in this restaurant proving the veracity of the "bonne source" = spring water.
Continuing down the street.
"Commemoratives plaques" at no. 103 - 1626, date of the building.
The 2nd plaque is for the 5th district commemorating the "Siege of Paris" by the German army during the winter of 1870/71.
At the bottom of the street at no. 134 is the old Facchetti's butchers shop. Back in the 1930's it took 2 years to complete the work on the facade. It is now a cheese shop.
Just opposite Facchetti's or Androuets (as the cheese shop is called) is the St. Medard church. A chapel has been on the site since 1140, although recent merovingian discoveries show that it dates from much older. The present church dates from the middle 1400's and expanded between 1560 and 1586.In December 1561 an altercation between Catholics and Protestants created havoc and the plundering of the church. This was part of a religious war and is known as the "Tumult of St. Medard.
I love rue Mouffetard because I lived around the corner from it when I first came to Paris. On hot summer nights, my friends and I would stroll up and down it with all the other students, eating street food, listening to the music blaring from the local music stores and restaurants, and shopping at the street market. Place de la Contrascarpe, just at the end of it, is a great place to spend Bastille Day—lots of concerts and dancing.
The Place has been popular or notorious at various periods. It is at the SE edge of the Latin Quarter, down the r. Blaineville from the west. It is the north end of the r. Mouffetard which continues north as the r. Descartes. In this continuation one can see a part of the Philippe Auguste City Wall (1190) rearing up. It is utilized as part of the present buildings. I understand that it is possible to go in them and climb up and see it close-up. There are inexpensive bistro-type restaurants in r. Descartes further on where we ate several times, such as the Maison de Verlaine (where the 19C poet lived) or the next one. Their plat du jour is usually a braised beef with a Bourgignon or poivre vert sauce. (The French dissect out the chuck steak , unlike the crude sawing of American supermarkets, each muscle has a name, a cooking style, a distinct taste and a sauce or two).
To the NW the r. Rollin leads off and upward to the r. Monge and the Roman Amphitheater (Arene) if you have the time and energy. (We have a travelog of the Descartes area).
We walked to the base of the hill from our hotel in the Latin Quarter (1 km) via the adjacent and converging rue Lhomond until the square de Vermenouze with a modern statue and where the Medici water run off feeds a modern fountain. Here we went left through the Passage des Postes, an old alley that runs past condominium dwellings, to emerge in the rue Mouff. The market was in full swing, the nice church facade under repair and almost invisible, so we rested a while in the garden and just looked.
Until Viollet-le-Duc, the great architect and historian, re-educated French intellectuals in the 19th century, Gothic was a dirty word and that type of architecture was inferior. So it is not surprising that most Parisian Gothic churches were redone by rich benefactors over the centuries. So too, in the Flamboyant Gothic (15C) chancel of St. Medard we note that the columns are now fluted and the large clerestory windows simplified. The church is dark(made more so by the newer stained glass in the windows) but there are interesting objects in the chapels. There is a realistic painting of a dead Christ by de Champaigne (17C) identical to one in the Louvre. Outside in the ex-cemetery garden is an Ossuary with the bones from thr graves. The cemetery was destroyed by royal decree in the 18C to put an end to a hysterical mania at a “healing-tomb”which had gone increasingly out of control over several years. There is a fine church facade but we could not see it when we were there because of extreme scaffolding.
The market was very active when we arrived.The view of the church facade behind the activity was obscured by reconstructions. We did not buy anything, just looked. We then visited the church interior and rested in the park.
The Rue Mouffetard ascends the hill ,Mount Ste. Genevieve . At the base of the street is the St. Medard Quarter with the church of the same name. At the top it flattens into the Place de la Contrescarpe which was just outside the ancient city wall of Philippe Auguste (1190). This is the point at which the Latin Quarter begins. Every weekday morning the St. Medard end is buzzing with the activity of a market , partly shop based, characteristic of many residential sites within Paris. (The quality is reputed to be very high here). The Church of St Medard is Gothic but heavily modified and has a little park on its south side that once was a cemetery. The street is composed of old buildings many of which have been extensively modernized inside. There are all sorts of shops and eateries.(The ethnic Greek ones are the best). A few quaint alleys extend laterally as you proceed upward (it is about 800 meters long). At the midpoint is a “well”(Fontaine Pot-de-Fer) the run-off of excess water delivered to the Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens that are far up the hill to the left.. With the ever expanding tourist directed commerce the picturequeness of the Rue is becoming hard to find. A chapter of a tourist book called “Pariswalks” is devoted to it but we found it too difficult to follow. Most people just come to look and eat , drink or shop. In the perpendicular adjacent streets there are more of the same: eateries, schools and abodes.
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