Paris - Ile De France

Rue Mouffetard - Market street Paris

This page was updated on: Monday, January 20, 2020 at: 4:29 pm

Rue Mouffetard, an old Roman road

Rue Mouffetard or La Mouffe, as locals call it familiarly, is one of the oldest streets in Paris.

The Romans opened it some 2000 years.

It extended their Cardo (the current Rue St-Jacques) and was therefore a section of the south road that connected Lutetia (Antic Paris) to Italy.

It ran down the southern slope of the Mons Lucotitius (current Montagne Sainte-Geneviève).

It then traversed the small village of Bourg Saint-Médard at the bottom of the hill.

It ran across the Pont aux Tripes, the bridge that once spanned the river Bièvre at the level of the current roundabout located by St-Médard Church.

It ran beyond the bridge towards the current Porte d'Italie, where it joined the antic south road.

A once trendy village close to the Gobelins workshops!

The Rue Mouffetard became the main street of the Bourg St-Médard.

The little village was initially inhabited by labourers and wine-growers.

They worked the vineyards that grew on the sun-facing slope of the Mons Lucotitius.

The village's sunny exposure and rural setting, yet easy access from the city centre, turned it into a sought-after location.

Wealthy Parisians soon built their country houses on the picturesque banks of the small river Bièvre.

However, the foundation of the Gobelins workshops during the 14th century put an end to the attractiveness of the area!

Related trades such as butchers, skinners and tanners workshops indeed appeared on the river banks.

They dumped their waste and rotten blood into the river (no regulations then!).

They turned it into a stinking sewer that left its name to the Pont aux Tripes (offal bridge).

The pestilential odours produced were commonly called moffettes and left their not very glamorous name to the street!

Rue des Moffettes eventually evolved into Rue Mouffetard.

Fortunately nothing is left of this industrial past!

One of the oldest market streets in Paris

Haussmann's renovation of Paris in the mid 19th century shortened the Rue Mouffetard by half to open the Avenue des Gobelins.

The Rue Mouffetard is today one of the most picturesque, lively and colourful market streets in Paris.

The upper section, by the Place de la Contrescarpe (square), is lined with a plethora of restaurants, cafes and bars that become animated at night and weekends.

The lower section has retained its proximity shops.

It is renowned for its daily farmers market, rich in colour and atmosphere.

The Rue Mouffetard is also lined with historical houses; many are classified Historical Monument.

You'll discover interesting architectural features, as you admire their facades, door lintels or cornices.

Historical buildings in Rue Mouffetard

You can’t miss the 18th century butcher-shop at no6.

Its striking red facade is adorned with low reliefs representing oxen.

Many locals enjoy telling the story of the 3000 gold coins discovered during the demolition of a house at no53.

You'll find the Fontaine du Pot au Fer, also known as Fontaine Mouffetard, at no60.

It was built in 1624 when Marie de Medicis commissioned the restoration of the old Roman aqueduct in order to supply water to her Luxembourg Palace and gardens.

The fountain supplied water to the Bourg St-Médard when the village was annexed to Paris (1724).

The fountain has a double facade with a rounded corner and consists of a simple tap.

It is quite elegant, yet understated, and could easily go unnoticed.

La Fontaine du Pot au Fer was classified Historical Monument in 1925.

The historical Vieux Chêne, at no69, became the seat of a revolutionary committee in 1848.

It was later converted into a ball.

As you walk farther down, look up at the facade of no122 to discover a painted low relief inscribed A la bonne source.

My favourite house is at no134, just opposite St-Médard Church.

The whole facade is painted with animal scenes!

This is not a surprise though, when you know that the ground floor shop has always been a charcuterie (deli)!

Directions: 5th district
Metro: Place Monge, Censier-Daubenton  Line 7
Coordinates: Lat 48.841720 - Long 2.349679

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