Sunday, April 19, 2009


Progress. As we near the second decade of the 21st century, the world has become a smaller place. A half a century ago, only the wealthy traveled across oceans to foreign nations. Now, it’s commonplace for any of us to spend time sipping champagne in Paris. In addition, the advent of the
information superhighway has made communication as simple as a click of a button. From microwaves to cell phones, we are surrounded with a plethora of amenities that make our daily lives easier. These are all good things. With our fast paced lives, however, we have seemed to have replaced quality with convenience.

The French are no exception to this rule. Things are shifting here like they are virtually everywhere else. For example, traditionally speaking, the French have always shopped for their food on a daily basis, choosing fresh ingredients for their meals from specialty shops and kiosks. Dining is meant to be a sensual experience which means the preparation of a meal is done with only the highest quality products that are as fresh as possible, s’il vous plaît.

Unfortunately, some of this tradition has been lost with the never ending supply of supermarches (grocery stores) which have sprung up in the last few decades replacing the once ubiquitous specialty shops. Why go to a cheese shop, when you can find cheese at the grocery store? The problem with convenience is twofold—not only do grocery stores lack the quantity of items found in specialty shops, the items found are sold for the masses and may not have the same quality as a specialty shop.

Thankfully Rue Mouffetard is an answer to our escape from convenience. Situated in the fifth arrondissiment near the Pantheon, this strip reminds us how it must have felt to shop in centuries past. The small cobblestone road may not be great for high heels, but its charm is unmistakable. Mouffetard (moof-tar) is aligned with specialty fromagers selling delectable cheeses from around the nation. Then there are the wine shops, bouchers (butchers), crepe makers, restaurants and a slew of fruit and vegetable kiosks that fill out this historical street.

Walk leisurely arm and arm with your sweetheart as you stroll down the rue. Fill your own large canvas bag with savory items from each store you visit. Pick up a bottle of wine from the wine seller, cheese from the cheese seller, freshly cut salami to your specifications from the butcher, a baguette from the baker and the required dessert from the pattiserie. Take your newly purchased goodies along with a blanket and enjoy a romantic picnic at nearby Jardin Luxembourg (a 10 minute walk from Mouffetard).

Leave the rushing behind at home and savor the pleasures of simplicity. Instead of filling your sojourn with running from one touristy spot to the next, spend some time to experience life at an unhurried pace. Go ahead and touch the fruit, smell the flowers, see the flow of others enjoying their excursion, listen to the sounds coming from the classical guitarist and taste the various food products that capture your attention. Your senses and your soul long for the gentle experience of Rue Mouffetard.

Thank you for reading and bonne journée!