The Rue Mouffetard in the 5eme arrondissment is one of the oldest streets in Paris, one of several formerly Gallo-Roman roads from Paris' 1st century days as Lutece. The picturesque Rue Mouff is often crowded with tourists and non-tourists, likely because it has lovely food and wine shops and also a pretty market. I like going to the Mouff because one of my favorite cheese shops is there - Androuet.
Androuet was where I got my first taste of Rove des Garrigues, a fresh goat cheese tasting of thyme and lavender. A taste for which I am constantly (fruitlessly) searching in the US. As you can see from the sign in the photo on the left, they list their seasonal cheeses. On the other side of the sign is the list of their AOC cheeses. Goat cheese is in season in April.
Shopping in Paris is very stressful. It's not the comfortably anonymous experience it is at home, where you paw through items until you find one that you want and then go pay a nameless cashier. No. Here, you have to greet and then have a conversation with the proprietor, in French, about what you're looking for and how much you want. That assumes that a) you can speak enough French to have that conversation and b) you know what you looking for and how much you want. You don't loaf around browsing and you certainly don't touch things. For some reason, at Androuet they have always been able to understand my French and are extremely nice about helping pick out yummy things. Perhaps it's because I have more cheese vocabulary than other things.
The proprietor didn't think the Rove des Garrigues was fresh enough to sell me this time and so advised that the Coeur de Figue (bottom right in the above photo) and the Banon aux Herbes (bottom left) were especially good now. He also had Etivaz, a special gruyere (top left in the photo), and further recommended the Tomme de Brebis (top right), an alpine sheep's cheese. I also bought some of the creamy yogurt and, joy, some creme fraiche to go with our market strawberries.
Do I really need to say how good it all tasted? It seems a little bit mean. The Banon aux Herbes has pink peppercorns and thyme on top. Tangy, almost lemony, goat cheese with tiny sparks of peppercorn. Mmmm. Etivaz, the best, nuttiest gruyere you can imagine. Tomme de Brebis - almost havarti-like creaminess and pebbled with holes, but very mushroomy, almost brie-like taste. And the Coeur de Figue - dessert in a cheese. Mild sweet goat cheese enclosing a honeyed fig. Delicious!
There are lots of wonderful cheese shops worth seeking out here: Barthelemy, Alleosse, Anne-Marie Cantin, Fromagerie 31, to name a few. Though I've heard that even the cheese at the grocery store is good.
But Androuet is especially worthwhile, IMHO, because it's in a sweet neighborhood that you'd want to visit anyways. And they are professional affineurs who sell only raw milk and artisanal cheeses. The proprietor was even nice enough to write down all the names of the cheeses for me and to cut tiny pieces, some only 1 euro's worth. He was as nice as the great people at Morgan and York or Zingerman's.
Be sure to get lunch or a coffee at the Contrescarpe Cafe at the bottom of the hill - great Croque Madame and one of the nicest places to watch the world go by with a great view of the old parish church, St. Medard, across the way.