Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 12: Rue Mouffetard, 605 meters of history, culture and food

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast"
Ernest Hemingway wrote that in his memoirs of his life in 1920s Paris.
I consider myself just as lucky as Hemingway for I may not have lived my life as a young (wo)man in Paris but I have been blessed to have visited Paris every year, for the last three years.

And each year, we have chosen to stay in an apartment in the 5th arrondissement, in the Latin Quarter -- a few minutes walk away from Rue Mouffetard, one of Paris' most famous and oldest streets. It used to be part of an old Roman road that led all the way up to Italy.
Today, it's known for its lively street market scene, for the variety of restaurants and shops lining the street and of course it's famous because Ernest Hemingway used to live here in the 1920s and he and his many artist friends frequented the cafes along this road.

The center of Rue Mouffetard is Place de Contrescarpe, a nice little rotunda with cafes and a pretty little fountain in the middle. Have a coffee or a hot chocolate or a glass of wine, sit outside and watch the world go by.

Close to Place de Contrescarpe is the building where Hemingway and his wife used to live, in a small very cramped apartment that they rented for $10 a month.
In this photo above, it's the one with the rolled up drapes. 3rd floor for the french, 4th for Americans.
Friends and admirers wondered why Hemingway chose to live in this area, known as a place where the working class and poor students lived (it's also near the Sorbonne) since he could afford to live somewhere else.
But according to Hemingway, he chose Rue Mouffetard because he wanted to live among the locals - and not with the rest of the American expats in Paris.

From the center or Place de Contrescarpe, walk down the gently sloping road and see all kinds of stores like small boutiques, fromageries, boucheries, boulangers, patisseries, fleuristes.
While Rue Mouffetard has become one of the main tourist attractions of Paris, it retains its staunchly loyal local clientele.

Here's one of the charcuteries right on Christmas eve -- see the carcasses of pigs, pheasants, rabbits and other fowl hanging from hooks.
For those who don't want to roast their own noche buena or as the french call it reveillon, there are ready cooked roast chicken and pork for sale.

At the end of Rue Mouffetard is the old church of St. Medard. The church is very much an active parish and we have attended Sunday mass here a number of times.
The area in front of it is known as St. Medard Square.
This being the Christmas season, there is the traditional carousel, with free rides given by the mairie or municipal office of the area.
It's always full of laughing, excited children -- during sunny days, rainy days, even at night.
Everyone loves a carousel!

And the 605 meter walk, from Place de Contrescarpe winds up at this little fountain, at the very end of the road. Christmas trees surround it and fairy lights are lit up at night, welcoming everyone to Rue Mouffetard.
This little street is one of the reasons why we always choose to stay in the same apartment in when we are in Paris.
I heartily agree with Hemingway. Rue Mouffetard is my moveable feast!

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