Rue Montorgueil, the fishermen’s street
Rue Montorgueil is one of Paris’ oldest streets.
However, back in the 13th century it was only a dirt path that crossed the Val-Larronneux (frogs valley), one of the many marshes that formed this picturesque area of the Rive Droite today known as Marais.
This marshy area was sparsely inhabited as it stretched outside the rampart Charles V built in the 14th century.
People also called the path Chemin de la Vallée aux Voleurs (Thieves valley path as larron is also another name for thief), as well as Champ-aux-Femmes (women’s field) because prostitution was then prohibited inside the walled city.
The Chemin du Val-Larroneux was also the last section of the route taken by the Norman fishermen who travelled at night to sell their fish in Les Halles at the first hours of the day. The commissioning of the railway put an end to their trade in the 1850s.
The first houses were built along the road in the mid-17th century when Charles V’s rampart was demolished.
The Chemin du Val-Larroneux was renamed rue des Poissonniers (fishermen St) and rue Poissonnière in 1635.
Leading straight to Les Halles, it was one of the liveliest and popular streets of Paris. Countless shops and craft workshops, mostly related to the food industry and related trades, indeed lined it.
It was renamed rue Montorgueil in the late 18th century as it also lead to the Mont Orgueil. Centuries of accumulation of the city’s garbage and waste produced this hillock, which people nicknamed Mont Orgueil (proud mount) by derision.
The rue Montorgueil has much changed since then, but has retained some iconic old-fashioned shops that are either protected or classified historical monuments.
Definitively a place where to enjoy a glass of wine or two while planning your next visit!
L’Escargot Montorgueil at no38
This restaurant, which opened in 1832, is today a true institution listed as a heritage site for its original Second Empire decor and the excellence of its cuisine.
As its name implies, it specializes in snail dishes! I know snails aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but the restaurant also offers a wide range of gourmet dishes.
A compulsory stop when strolling along the street!
Pâtisserie Stohrer at no53
Mr Stohrer founded his renowned pastry shop in 1730. Five years earlier, Marie Leczynska, took her father’s pastry chef when she moved to Paris to marry King Louis XV.
Step in to admire his fabulous murals and ceiling, but be aware that you won’t be able to resist the delicious pâtisseries on display!
Café Biard at no73
A bookstore and souvenir shop today replaces this ancient café at the corner of rue Montorgueil and rue Léopold Bellan.
However, the original shop window with its beautiful carved wood paneling and vintage mosaics have been retained.
Le Rocher de Cancale at no78
Eating oysters became very fashionable in the early 19th century when the well-off Parisians discovered the pleasure of sea bathing.
However, once back in the city, they still wanted to indulge!
Cancale’s oyster farmers therefore sent their production to Les Halles de Paris, but also to Le Rocher de Cancale restaurant in Rue Montorgueil.
The first Rocher de Cancale opened in the 18th century at no59.
By 1804, its new owner had turned it into one of the trendiest restaurants of Paris.
Among them were the great writers of the time (Alexandre Dumas, Eugène Sue and Théophile Gauthier).
Le Tout Paris indeed flocked to dine on the delicious oysters (and fish) from Cancale as they came out the theatre or opera.
Honoré de Balzac even made Le Rocher de Cancale the regular setting for many of his books in his La Comédie Humaine saga.
Unfortunately, the restaurant went bankrupt when it change ownership; it closed in 1846 and reopened rue Richelieu.
It changed hands once more, but this time for the best as it reopened at no. 78 rue Montorgueil, where frescoes by Gavarni still decorate the first floor.
A compulsory stop for those who like oysters!
A La Mère de Famille at no82
If you have a sweet tooth you’ll stop A La Mère de Famille, one of 9 shops the renowned chocolatier-confiseur opened in Paris and St Maur.
You’ll be seduced by its old-fashioned storefront and interior, even if it doesn’t compete with the original store founded in 1761 (well before the Revolution!) at no35 rue du Faubourg-Montmartre.
The decor, which dates from the Belle Epoque (tiles, counters and wood counter, metal chandeliers etc…), indeed earned it to be listed historical monument in 1984.
The shop in rue Montorgueil is more understated, yet still beautiful and the specialties to die for!
Mariage Frères at no90
Still in the food trade, but this time liquid, with Mariage Frères, the oldest tea importer and boutique in Paris.
The family’s good fortune started in the 17th century, when King Louis XIV encouraged world expeditions to discover exotic products.
By 1843, the Mariage were well-established wholesale tea traders; the brothers Henri and Edouard Mariage founded the first warehouse in 1854 and for the next 130 years Mariage Frères provided tea to luxury hotels and palaces.
The company converted to retailing in 1983 in order to meet the needs of a wealthy and international tea-loving clientele.
The original 19th century colonial style decor (wood, furniture and counters) of its warehouse were transferred to their first tearoom in rue du Bourg-Tibourg.
The company today consists of 30 outlets across France (5 in Paris), Germany, Great Britain and Japan and distributes tea in 60 countries. It still supplies luxury establishments but also Japan Airlines 1st class and launched its online store in 2000.
Au Planteur at no10 rue des Petits-Carreaux
Rue des Petits-Carreaux extends the rue Montorgueil to the north and was another section of the Chemin du Val-Larroneux.
It therefore boasts several interesting buildings such at no10, which is recognisable by its stunning ceramic mural ‘Au Planteur’.
This mural was created in 1890 for the namesake store that sold exotic products, among which coffee, imported from the former French colonies.
‘Aucune Succursale’ (no branch) at the bottom of the mural meant that it was the only one of its kind in Paris.
The ceramic depicts a black man, wearing white and red striped breeches, standing and serving coffee to a white man dressed in colonial style and sat in a chair.
The store closed a long time ago, but its storefront (the ceramic and the wooden frame of the facade) was listed historic monument in 1984.
These are the most iconic stores, but you’ll also find several picturesque shops such as a hardware store next to the Café Biard.
That said, newer shops are adapting to the old-fashioned style of the street; Le Pain Quotidien, a bakery-tea room at the corner of rue Saint-Sauveur bakes organic bread.
Finally, look up to discover the gorgeous shop-signs such as Le Palais du Fruit, Le Café Montorgueil…
Take your time to enjoy your stroll along this amazing Parisian food street!
Directions: 2nd district
Metro station: Les Halles on Line 4 or Sentier on Line 3