TRAVEL: Hidden Paris – Two Day City Break

It’s great to find somewhere different in one of the most visited cities in the world, Paris.

Tucked away behind the Panthéon on the  hill Montagne Sainte-Geneviève to the south of the Seine is Rue Mouffetard – a remnant of a 2000-year-old  Roman road and still a bustling market from Tuesday to Sunday morning.

Rue Mouffetard (French pronunciation: ​[ry muf.taʁ]) is a street in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, France.

Rue Mouffetard, Paris

Starting from Censier-Daubenton metro station there is the market place by the Chapel of Saint-Médard in Saint-Médard Square, with its adjoining park. On Saturdays it’s fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables and on Sunday afternoon dancers from a by gone age. An eclectic mix shops – the one that only does cheese, the fish shop, wine seller, chocolates made with beans from the former colonies and the bakery with a constant queue.




 fish (poissonneries) shops

fish (poissonneries) shops

Rue Mouffetard Paris

What’s Paris without a great bottle of wine!


Cocoa beans of the world

Towards the top of the hill there are creperies and fast food – no chains, and restaurants for locals and students from the nearby Sorbonne.

Rue Mouffetard is located on Montagne Sainte-Geneviève with the Panthéon at the top of the hill.

Rue Mouffetard is located on Montagne Sainte-Geneviève with the Panthéon at the top of the hill.

Typically French, typically Paris.

Its location and atmosphere, reminiscent of the Middle Ages, is said to have provided inspiration to Victor Hugo while he wrote Les Misérables. Much of rue Mouffetard is closed to traffic, adding to the overall pleasure of gently uphill strolling and stopping at one of its many cafés for people watching.

Practical Info: Métro: #7 Place Monge or Censier-Daubenton

For less esoteric shopping Monoprix is the place for exciting-looking beauty treats and where, as a matter of course, you are loaded up with pouch samples of things like gentle exfoliators and cold creams. Talking of cold, it’s worth looking in Picard where Parisians buy their frozen canapes – an upmarket Iceland.

Picard frozen foods

eclairs are the new macaroons!

No trip to Paris is complete without drinking in the atmosphere of the Marais. For shopping the Bazaar Hotel de VilleBHV – is going upmarket with designer concessions such as Gucci and Moncler but is still a bargain basement of fashion finds. We were there for the sales and the last cut of 70% hashtag #OhMySoldes. Accessories and homewares are so varied, great quality and prices compared to Primark-ised homogenous London.

But The Marais quarter is buzzing on Sundays, whereas most of Paris shuts down for le weekend,  and the shops and cafes are open to a fun, youngish crowd.

Have lunch at Au Petit Fer a Cheval at 30 rue Vieille du Temple, Le Marias. At the back, beyond the bar, below the clock that runs backwards is a fantastic old school restaurant. Delivering dishes of great style and taste from a kitchen the size of a broom cupboard.

Le Petit Fer à Cheval

Au Petit Fer à Cheval

Travelling to Paris from London is easy on the Eurostar. An upgrade to premium economy is a must – get seats facing each other, raid the magazine rack and pour the wine.

Sit back and relax – uncrowded streets and metro, good value exchange rate for the £/ € and wonderful food. Time to fall in love again with Paris.

Read more about the Eurostar here:  destinations/france/ile-de-france/paris



I hadn’t been for years but Paris is as good as I remembered it.

Banners on the Hotel de Ville Paris in January 2015

Ice skating in the shadow of banners on the Hotel de Ville Paris in January 2015

 Paris from the crossing on Rue Rivoli



Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris

Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris

Words and photos by Alan Greenhalgh, January 2015.

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