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Place Mouffetard - Latin Quarter
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HISTORY

Rue Mouffetard is the remnant of an ancient Roman road. The buildings have been rebuilt several times since then. Some buildings date from the 12th century, and many have distinct histories. In a sense, this street represents the history of Paris. The Mouffetard market fills the lower half of the street every morning, and people come to do their daily shopping. Its vitality is reminiscent of a scene from the Middle Ages. After the market closes, restaurants open up, offering a wide variety of ethnic as well as traditional French food at cafes and creperies.

Every day except Monday, the rue Mouffetard hosts perhaps the most famous street market in all of Paris and historians have traced the origins of this market to 1350 A.D., and possibly earlier. Unlike most street markets in Paris, with temporary stalls and goods brought in, the area's permanent shops place their goods on the pedestrian street and have a great stake in preserving the character of the area.


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WHAT TO FIND HERE

Like most shops in Paris, those on the rue Mouffetard typically close at noon Sunday and stay closed until 10 am on Tuesday. The street market is at its busiest on Sunday mornings between 10 am and noon and historians say that it resembles the market of medieval age, although in modern day the focus is mostly on food. Fresh fruit and vegetables bursting with flavor abound. Fromageries and crémeries display hundreds of different kinds of cheese, all purer than any of the pasteurized kinds found in supermarkets. One could spend a lifetime trying all the foods displayed on a busy market day on the rue Mouffetard. You can find fresh vegetables, meat, cheese, seafood, confectioneries and other delicacies.

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WHAT TO CHECK OUT

Almost all of the buildings along the rue Mouffetard date from the 17th century and the city of Paris has gone to great pains to preserve this section of town. It is rare to see a place in any other city where one can enjoy some truly great architecture and shopping at once! If you want to impress chocolate lovers back home, stop by Jeff de Bruges at no 112 for beautifully wrapped gifts. If you want distinctively Parisian non-chocolate gifts, check out Occitane (no 130), just across from a wonderful cheese shop at no. 131. The bas relief above the door at no. 122 - à la Bonne Source (At the Good Spring) dates from a 1592 A.D. wine shop. There is no shortage of wine shops today and several offer serious wine tasting and a selection that will amaze Americans and tourists.

For a truly special gift, try the shoe shop at no. 64. It dates from 1890 and still sells wooden shoes worn by farmers and other peasant footware that will probably disappear before too much longer. In 1938 a hidden treasure of three thousand gold pieces was found inside the walls of a building at no. 53 (now a Comfort Inn) by some construction workers. eventually traced to a nobleman who had disappeared in 1757. The amount was finally divided among the construction workers and the nobleman's living descendents in 1952. Near the top of the hill of rue Mouffetard, take a quick jog to the left along rue du Pot de Fer (or "Iron Pot Street" as your grandmother back in Peoria might say) and check out the amazing variety of restaurants with tables spread out into the walking street including the first Taiwanese teahouse in Europe, la Maison de trois thés at no. 5 where any true tea connoisseur visiting Paris will eventually rest his feet.

NEAR AND AROUND

The rue Mouffetard ends in the beautiful Place de la Contrescarpe, With its beautiful fountain and its typically Parisian cafés and bars open till the wee hours of the morning, it has now become a great hangout for people watching. The crowd here is younger and hipper, than that at the lower end, and restaurants are also fairly cheaper. Turning away from the rue Mouffetard and continuing uphill one reaches the stately Pantheon in a few minutes and the Jardin du Luxembourg in a few minutes stroll. It's a lovely walk on a late summer evening and if you are a jogger you will fall in love with the jogging paths inside the idyllic Luxembourg Gardens. A favorite Hemingway story has to do with him catching and roasting pigeons from the park; nevertheless, there is no clear record or confirmation of his story by other sources.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION:
(please verify with the Paris Tourism office)

rue Mouffetard 75005 Paris
Traditional market: Sundays: 7 a.m.- 12.30 p.m.
Cafes and bars open: Winter - Summer: 7 a.m.-3.30 a.m.

Metro (line 7): Place Monge-Jardins des Plantes or Censier-Daubenton
Bus (line 47): Place Monge

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