Go to content Go to menu

Street with a golden snail - Montorgueil


0.jpgParis is history, Paris is art, Paris is a mixture of world-wide cultures with a French accent, Paris is a  white sand-stone, goldened by sun rays. However, everything that Paris represents takes your mind, touches your heart, gets under your skin. And one of the quarters with the ambiance that can be hardly described but which can be lived so easily, is the Montorgueil quarter.

Quarter and street Montorgueil is a mixed microworld of Paris, the right dose of historical fasades of beautiful buildings with mysterious entrances, colours, smells, 1.jpgtastes, curious discoveries.

An adventure of this quarter starts with a big stone head in front of the impressive church St Eustache. On the right side of the church you take the second street "rue Montorgeuil" and you do not need any further navigation, you will be led by your curiosity and right at the corner of the street you will see the open air terraces of the coffee places with people enjoying their drink or a small cup of coffee. On a sunny day of the beginning of October, when the sun is not agressive anymore, when people start t2.jpgo think of the approaching cold days, their will to face the sun is even stronger. In Paris you will notice that young girls and women love wearing the boots. The high boots season starts at the end of September and finishes in May.

Initially the street with the name "rue du Comte d’Artois" started from "des Halles" towards the North of Paris. It got its final name in 1792. However, in the past it was not attractive at all, it was a busy street, heading towards "the open belly of Paris", as was called the big market place Les Halles and Pavillon Baltard. The bad smells from the sell4.jpgers of fish and meat were spread to the whole surrounding. The street Montorgueil was used by the fish sellers, coming from the seacoast Manche and Northern Sea, who delivered fish and seafood to the Halles.

The change for the Montorgueil quarter came in 1960, when the wholesellers and the market place moved to Rungis (Parisian suburbs). The quarter "Les Halles" was restaured and modernized and although the architecture of this big modern centre with hundreds of shops, subway station, cinemas, sport facilities, was criticized by many Parisians, it still helped to change the ambiance of the quarter. In the 90-ies of the 20th century the street Montorgueil became a walking zone, various shops, restaurants, coffee places started to flourish.

In the 17th century collecting of taxes from the fish sale on the Halles market enabled to finance the chapel construction. The chapel became a church in 1223, dedicated to the Saint Eustache, the relics of whom were moved to the ch3.jpgurch from the Saint-Denis basilic. The present Renassaince church construction comes from 1532. The church has beautiful mosaic windows and a perfect acoustics, thanks to which it is a favourite place for many classical music concerts. The church orgues with its 8000 pipes is considered to be the most beautiful in France.

Let’s focus on some of tha facades of the Montorgueil street. Among old, some of them even very old buildings facades, you will find various curiosities. Number 78 belongs to the restaurant "Le Rocher de Cancale", that Balzac often mentions in his "Human Comedy".

The famous facade with number 38, which attracts the attention of all passers-by, has a big golden snail above its entrance. This reknown restaurant "L'Escargot-Montorgueil" was opened in 1875 by a restaurer Mignard and a wine seller Bourreau. The follower from the year 1890 was Théodore Lecomt, in 1919 André Terrail with the cook Lespinasse. Wooden front side comes from the original building and the big escutcheon (aristocracy s5.jpgign) from a forged iron, decorated with a snail, comes from 1900. When you enter the restaurant you are immediately interested in the interior design: black and white tiles, wooden trimming, impressive chandelier and the furniture from the 30-ies of the last century. If you decide to taste the snails in Paris, why not doing it here, for example with the starter of snails with three flavours: classical on the spread butter, curry or roquefort.

The Sthorer Bakery, established in 1730 by the pastry cook from the "la Cour de Lorraine", has kept its decoration from the 19th century. It became famous thanks to the visit of the British Queen during her visit in Paris. And so I do as the Queen did, and I enter this bakery and choose the pastry "Oranais" – gold6.jpgen yellow croissant filled with abricots. And this fresh croissant with the taste of the abricot-pudding-cream filling while walking on a sunny day in Paris, can be compared to a caviar with champagne in a fancy restaurant.

At the beginning of the Montorgueil street you will notice a narrow, almost empty street at your right, and in spite of the lively rythm and charm of the Montorgueil street, your curiosity takes you to the right. You will not regret your time, at the end of this street you will face a fairy-tale entrance to the covered passage (narrow street covered by glass) "Passage du Grand-Cerf" (in translation Passage of a big deer), which is a historical jewelry of this quarter.

A big part of the day the whole Montorgueil street has the form of a busy market and it is this pleasant ambiance that makes it comparable to the Mouffetard Street, filled with people either curiously observing and taking pictures of the old buildings or people who come here daily with their shopping bags to get their baguette, pastries, meat, fruit and vegetables. It is a little more "bourgeois", as Parisians say it is a  "quartier bobo" (from the words "bourge8.jpgoise" and "bohème"), or a "quartier chic".

The pedestrian street, the ambiance of which is not disturbed by the cars, entrances and windows of many small shops, pharmacies, coffee places, restaurants, each of them attractive with some detail, is a little more fancy than the street Mouffetard. It is also one of the most expensive quarters of Paris. As the bloggers write on the internet it attracts especially the generation of thirty years old, that means the people who are still not in the age of watching TV at home, but at the same time people who already earn enough money to enjoy spending it for a Parisian fancy leisure time.

The Montorgueil street is also a symbol of light. In Christmas time it is one of the Parisian streets with the most beautiful and rich light decorations.

Maria Dopjerova-Danthine, Paristep


Preview of picture in folder Paris street | Jan Schinko jr.