Numbers: 23, 89, 140
One of Paris’ oldest streets traced onto an earlier Roman road it dates back to the 3rd century AD when the old Roman town on the left bank was being abandoned in favour of the safer, fortified smaller location on the île de la Cité.
The road falls away on the south side of the Sainte-Genevieve hill. Its name could come from a corruption of the place name, Mont Cétard, to Mont Fétard and eventually becoming Mouffetard. Alternatively, the old French word ‘moufette‘ used to mean an awful smell, and it could be that this is its origin.
No. 23 was an important address for the interwar left in Paris. In 1933 Daniel Guérin organised meetings there for antifascist German refugees.
In 1935 it housed the offices of Marceau Pivert‘s Revolutionary Left newspaper, and in 1936 the anarchist journal ‘Spartacus’ Notebooks’ where Victor Serge published ‘16 shot: Where is the Russian Revolution going?‘.
In June 1848 a barricade went up across the road at No. 89. On June 23 1848 a company of the Mobile Guard was disarmed here.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given it was a very cheap area in which to live, and the numbers of political refugees coming to Paris, for nearly two decades from 1885, No. 140 was strongly associated with anarchist publications.
On 1 February 1885 Jean Grave launched a French-based edition of Kropotkin‘s anarchist journal Le Révolté at this address. After its presses were seized it changed its name to La Révolte. Among those who wrote for it were the exiled Élisée Reclus and Émile Pouget. Among its readers was Pierre Monatte.
From 4 May 1895 it changed its name to become Les Temps Nouveaux (New Times), which continued to publish up to August 1914, when almost all its writers supported the First World War’s ‘Holy Unity’ against Germany.
On 24 February 1889 Pouget launched the weekly anarchist newspaper Le Père Peinard from the same address. This was frequently raided by the police and the last number of its first series appeared on 21 February 1894, when Pouget escaped to London.
In 1871 Élie Reclus, who had been director of the National Library in Paris under the Paris Commune was hidden in the rue Mouffetard by a family friend for several weeks before escaping to London.