Today I once again take Elaine’s advice and make my way to Charles and Rose in the Latin Quarter to find some comfy espadrilles for my blistered feet. After the usual 20 minutes of confusion after getting off the Metro, I find the street. Note to yourself: if you’re going to Paris, just expect that the streets will look nothing like Google maps when you get off the Metro. You will likely be at an intersection of 4-5 streets, with no idea what any of them are, nor which one you’re on, since Paris streets are only sporadically noted on the sides of buildings, not on street signs at the corner.
Okay, back to Rue Mouffetard. It’s charming! A narrow cobblestone street with lots of non-chain stores, restaurants and little fruit markets. Of course I find a good pair of espadrilles at Charles and Rose, and their prices are affordable for Paris. Elaine knows these things. They even carry up to size 41 (USA size 9.5), which is gargantuan by Paris standards, evidently. The saleswoman speaks little English, but we manage to wade through what fits and what is tole petit (too small). We both agree that 40 is my size and that the ones that seem too tight are just poorly made.
I head into a housewares and hardware store, which isn’t very easy to find in Paris. I’m happy to find a soap dish and a scrub brush, things which are missing in the apartment. I also buy a little water pitcher. The cashier can’t add and mistakenly overcharges me. You should pay attention in Paris; many things either aren’t marked or are mistakenly marked. It happens a lot.
This seems like a nice neighborhood to eat in, so after checking out the menus of a few places, I decide on Le Mouff’tot Mouff’tard, based on menu and the charm factor. I am not disappointed.
I think it is a family-owned business. The owner personally greets everyone, and people keep wandering in off the street throughout my time there to shake his hand and say hello. His daughter and his little grandson are there. The owner asks where I am from, then picks up the toddler and tells him to say, “Hello, American girl!” He obviously dotes on him. The owner’s father walks in and says, “Bon soir, bon appetit” to me. Nice.
I tell the young, cute waiter, “Sorry, you’ll have to bear with my French.” I order in French and he says with a smile and a bemused eyebrow, “Not bad.” He really is tres adorbs, but I later see him smoking, so … cut that in half. There’s another good waiter there who’s a little more reserved. But he smiles when I say I don’t need to see the dessert menu. I can easily pronounce “chocolate mousse.”
The decor is Paris Apartment Style, very well done down to the checkered table-toppers on a diagonal. The upholstered chairs are easily the most comfortable ones I’ve sat on anywhere in Paris, including my apartment. The service is very nice, and I order a combo plate (appetizer, dinner and dessert) for 16 euros, all in. The duck salad is amazing. My “healthy” poached cod dinner comes floating in white sauce, including the spinach. Sigh. It’s not easy to eat low-cal in Paris. It is delicious, though.
Being a mojito freak, I order the Mojito Framboise, which is pink and has the requisite mint leaves. Heavenly. I sip it, leisurely, and study my French dictionary. It seems like “size,” “you’re welcome,” “I will try” and “I’m embarrassed about my French” are my next vocabulary words and phrases to memorize. I remind myself to go to dinner later if I want to meet people. I leave at 8:15 and the place is still empty. Dinner here starts at about 8:30 or 9 pm, as far as I can tell.
This little restaurant is everything a place in Paris should be. Friendly, delicious, reasonably priced, unique and a neighborhood fixture. If you’re ever in the Latin Quarter, go and tell the owner where you’re from. 71 Rue Mouffetard, Paris 75005, Metro Monge (7), 01 47 07 91 58