When sightseeing in Paris last year, my partner and I decided to combine a trip to the markets at Rue Mouffetard with a visit to le Boulanger de Monge. It was not hard to find this little bakery. It was the store with the line of customers out the door.
I wanted to familiarise myself with the offerings so took a wander by the window. In full view of passersby and customers, staff were weighting and shaping great volumes of bread dough. The speed with which they handled this task was astonishing. It was a rare sight having this activity so upfront.
I wandered to the back of the line, and once inside, in shaky French unconfidently declared, “Je voudrais une baguette, s’il vous plaît”. After a few other dialogue exchanges – including a number of agreeable nods from me – I whipped the baguette offered to me under arm and proceeded with my partner to the markets. We were off to find accompaniments.
In the little narrow street of the markets there were a host of vendors selling beautiful fruits, flowers, cheeses, meats. We both noticed this grand chicken rotisserie outside Pascal Gosnet. We were instantly sold. After the purchase of half a chicken and a few potatoes (soaked in chicken fat!) later, we then walked to Le Jardin des Plantes– a stunningly beautiful botanical garden in Paris – to find a quiet spot to eat.
The bread was impressive. The flavour was rich and complex, and it was almost nutty. Le Boulanger de Monge only use 100% wheat flour and it showed. The bread was earthy with a slightly off-white colour. It was delicious by itself sans butter or any condiment.
I was amazed how each Boulangerie, with such a simple set of strict ingredients, can produce such unique bread full of depth. In this case I guess that is why Le Boulanger de Monge had a string of customers out the door. I am sure most locals visit every few days for their daily bread supplies. What a life!
While munching on our purchases at Le Jardin des Plantes we noticed a group of girls going from person to person. They reached us and said something in French I could not decipher (I probably should have lengthened my enrolment duration at Alliance Francaise!). They quickly switched to English (merci), and we found out that one girl was about to be married. They were selling homemade crepes to raise money. Well, despite my fill of bread, chicken and potatoes, how could I not support this girl taking her next step in life?
I selected Nutella as my topping of choice for the crepe. Typically I am strictly a lemon/sugar girl but thought a change would be good. The crepes were lovely, and it was so special to enjoy a homemade version of such a French specialty. I am not sure if this is a tradition in France, but it was lovely experience.
Le Boulanger de Monge
123 rue Monge, 75006 Paris