A narrow cobblestone pedestrian street with cafés, shops, and a glorious open-air market, La Mouffe feels like coming home to me, a place to mingle with the locals. Street musicians serenade diners on weekend nights. Specialty shops spill over with cheeses, wines, produce, and other kinds of ooh-la-la. Ernest Hemingway described this scene in A Moveable Feast: "That wonderful narrow crowded market street."
It's here, at the base of the street, that I take an outdoor table at Le Mouffetard, where I can watch passersbys stroll by. At this cozy little bistro, French is being spoken all around me. I watch the two older ladies, immaculately dressed with their scarves just so, sharing a carafe of wine over their lunch. They do not touch their basket of bread. Two younger men are in serious discussion—about politics, as far as my rusty French can tell. The waiter isn't the friendliest person around, but he doesn't treat me like a tourist. He earnestly takes my order and efficiently brings me a carafe of tap water, a glass for my wine, my basket of bread that I will not touch. And I feel like a local.
Happily avoiding French civic planner Baron Haussmann's wrecking balls that created the rest of Paris' broad, tree-shaded boulevards in the 19th century, La Mouffe retains its medieval feel. Indeed, Victor Hugo spent much time wandering the street, imagining medieval Parisian life, as he delved into writing Les Misérables. In all reality, the road follows an ancient Roman route atop Genevieve Hill. Just off the road, toward the Pantheon, you'll find the footprint of a Roman colosseum, the Arènes de Lutèce (now a park beloved by neighborhood families).
how to enjoy la mouffe
Le Mouffetard Café (No. 116): A great little local spot for an espresso or menu du jour.
Cave La Bourgogne (No. 144): Stop here for an apéritif in the early evening, before heading out for a night out in the City of Light.
Water Well At the junction with Rue du Pot, look for the water well, dating from 1624.
Église St. Médard This beautiful church dates from the ninth century.