“And I thought wow…”
One of our favorite streets when we stayed in Paris in the spring of 2016 was the picturesque Rue Mouffetard, a popular and mainly pedestrian street located in the Latin Quarter. Rue Mouffetard has a lively market and is one of the oldest streets in Paris. Although it has been called many variations on its name, this street has stood the test of time. There has been a road here since Roman times and at one point it ran all the way south to Italy.
Thankfully, you will not find any of the stinky smells of skinned animals that the street used to be known for in the 14th century. Instead, you will find a charming section of Paris that has retained its original character since it was left off from Baron Haussmann’s urban renewal program and renovation of Paris in the 1800s.
Below I have described the gems we found while exploring the Rue Mouffetard. This guide is mainly about the wonderful meals we had, but there are so many unique delights that can be found on this one street. It’s definitely an area that will captivate anyone who comes to Paris and lends you the opportunity to find your own cherished memories along the way.
Cave La Bourgogne
144 Rue Mouffetard, 75005 Paris, France
My number one suggestion for you if you can visit Rue Mouffetard is to have a long and leisurely lunch at Cave La Bourgogne. It’s hard to believe that a bistro on a well-known street is as affordable and loved by locals as Cave la Bourgogne, but it is. There’s nothing incredibly eye-catching about Cave La Bourgogne to draw you in or make it stand out from any other cafe spilling onto the sidewalk. But the fact that everyone looks happy there and that it has a Rick Steves recommendation should convince you to pick it out of the crowd.
After checking into our hotel a block away, this was the first thing that we did in Paris. We only had a couple of days in the city but we did not regret spending three hours eating delicious food and watching the afternoon go by. No, not one bit.
Cave La Bourgogne is one of those restaurants where I really don’t think you could order something you won’t like. My husband ordered off their set menu, a steak with a creamy balsamic sauce, and I ordered one of their daily specials, a thin cut of pork stewed in a mushroom stock. And all of the potatoes.
Don’t be in a hurry. Take all the time you need to people-watch and soak in the laid-back nature of the street.
But before you go, order yourself a cheese plate for two, along with a glass of their house Cotes du Rhone.
Ok, scratch that. Order at least two glasses of their Cotes du Rhone. You will be there for about three hours, after all.
After your delightful gastronomic experience at Cave la Bourgogne, you can work off your meal by strolling the open air market that runs along the majority of Rue Mouffetard. As you walk, enjoy watching the local families carefully choose their ingredients for the evening meal. The market is open in the mornings and operates everyday except on Mondays. Most stalls close for lunch but will sometimes reopen for the afternoon.
A fun fact about street markets is that they are usually designed with the shopper in mind. As you start at the head of the stalls, you will notice that the merchants line the street in the order that you would choose the ingredients for you dinner: the fruit and vegetables stalls, the meat, the herbs and spices, the cheese, and finally, when you know exactly what you will be making for dinner, the beloved crates of wine.
After your extremely taxing stroll through the street market (ha), you will be ready for a snack. There are many creperies lining the street, but our choice was the Crêperie Mouffetard. You will be doing yourself a disservice if you do not get the Nutella and Grand Marnier combination. If you are nice, I bet they will even dash in a little extra Grand Marnier for you.
127 Rue Mouffetard, 75005 Paris, France
If you went on a tour around the city or took in the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower like we did, and are still carrying around your large, late lunch, get a late night taco or burrito at Bocamexa. You may have to stand in a line with a bunch of college students, but that just helps prove to you that it is going to be worth the wait. Even Parisians are drawn to quality Mexican cuisine. Rue Mouffetard was the original location of Bocamexa, but they have since opened up two more locations in Paris.
After you have taken another stroll down Rue Mouffetard with your sought-after burrito, stop in at Cave la Bourgogne again for a nightcap of a glass of champagne. It can’t hurt and after all, you’re in Paris.
La Salle à Manger
138 Rue Mouffetard, 75005 Paris, France
Although they are also open most days for lunch and dinner, La Salle à Manger is best known for their ginormous breakfast and brunch offerings. Our last morning in Paris was a Sunday and we treated ourselves to breakfast at La Salle à Manger, just a few doors down from Cave La Bourgogne. There was a steady rain throughout the morning but that did not detract from the pleasure we found in watching the busy Parisians scurry by on their way to church and to the market.
Unless you are famished, the full brunch option plus an entree will be more than enough to feed yourself and your travel partner. However, we did not know that and both ordered the brunch extraordinaire and had a difficult time getting through it. Having too much brunch: a first-world problem, to be sure.
l’Hôtel de l’Espérance
15 rue Pascal, 75005 Paris, France
If you have a couple of days in Paris, I would recommend staying in the Rue Mouffetard area. It’s a charming, more affordable area (we got our room for under $100/night) that has great restaurant options and a neighborly feel. We stayed at l’Hôtel de l’Espérance, about a block away from Rue Mouffetard. It’s a simple but clean hotel that was conveniently located to a few Metro stops so we could navigate around the city. One warning, however: while the rooms at l’Espérance are actually quite large for Paris, the beds are teeny-tiny. If you are by yourself, or are both small people, great! Otherwise, you may wake up in the morning with one side of you numb from attempting to stay on your side of the bed.
Paris is a huge city and there are many places to stay, but we enjoyed being based in the Rue Mouffetard area. Even if you decide not to pick a hotel in the Latin Quarter, the Rue Mouffetard is worth a leisurely stroll through the market and a glass of champagne at Cave la Bourgogne.
Let me know what are your favorite parts of Paris in the comments below. Santé!