Paris has so many attractions that sometimes it’s difficult to make a choice what you want to see, especially when you don’t have much time. Top visits include the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Sacré-Coeur, but you also have Rue Mouffetard, a street in the 5th arrondissement (Quartier Latin).
This pedestrianised street, which Parisians call “la Mouffe”, is one of the oldest and picturesque streets of Paris. There has been a road here since the Romans were in town, 2000 years ago and it is home to a beautiful street market.
History of Rue Mouffetard
This bohemian and multicultural street has not always been called Rue Mouffetard, but had many names like Montfétard, Maufetard, Mofetard, Mouflard, Moufetard, Moftard, Mostard and also Rue Saint-Marcel, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Marceau en Rue de la Vielle Ville Saint-Marcel. Rue Mouffetard is thought to be a deviation of the original Roman name of this road, “mont Cetardus” which refers to a hill close by.
Mouffet means “skunk” in the French language. The street was popular as a location for animal skinners and mofettes is related to the word meaning “odours of pestilent” referring to the horrible smells that were given out by the process of skinning.
So much history in 605 meters!
Rue Mouffetard has a medieval character and is loved by Parisians as much as by tourists. Sometimes it feels as if you have stepped back in time. Thanks to the location of this street on hill Sainte-Genevieve, it has been preserved in an older style. Luckily it escaped being included in the project for redevelopment in Paris when Baron Haussmann was planning and recreating the city’s streets and buildings.
What to see in Rue Mouffetard
It is a very lively street where you can find a daily market with fresh products. The diversity of shops are a real feast for the senses. The pastries, the cheeses, the lovely smell from the restaurants, it’s easy to spend several hours here. Sitting on a terrace in the sun at Place de la Contrescarpe, enjoying a café au lait and watching people and admiring the old houses and imagine how Parisian life was during the medieval years. It’s very authentic. This street was also a great inspiration for Victor Hugo when he wrote Les Miserables thanks to its atmosphere and good looks, reminiscent still of the middle ages.
What can you find more in this street? Look up as well as down. Several of the buildings have incredible frescoes and sculptures. At the junction of Rue du Pot, you will find a water well dated 1624. Further south in the street you can admire Église St. Médard dating to the 9th century. Near the Place Monge metro, you can find the Monge market, which you can visit on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays between 07:00 and 14:30.
Sunday afternoons in the Mouffe are especially lively as locals and visitors dance and join in the singing by the Chapel of Saint-Médard in Saint-Médard Square, next to a lovely park.
The market is vibrant and the street is buzzing every day but the busiest times in Rue Mouffetard are Saturday and Sunday mornings. The market and shops are closed on Sunday afternoon and Monday and re-open on Tuesday morning.
How to get there: Take Metro Line 7, exit at Censier-Daubenton Station and walk southwest along Rue Daubenton to Rue Mouffetard.
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