Read the Signs: Rue du Chat qui Pêche in Paris

Read the Signs: Rue du Chat qui Pêche in Paris

The Rue du Chat qui Pêche, literally the street of the fishing cat, is not only notable for being the narrowest in Paris but also for an eerie ghost story. The street, perpendicular to Rue de la Huchette, gives on to the Quai Saint Michel on the river Seine in the 5th arrondissement.

It is easy to imagine what medieval Paris must have felt like in those days. At only 1.8m wide, it is a popular spot for selfies as you can easily touch one side with your hand reaching for the opposite with your foot. It was previously called Ruelle des Étuves, and several other names before taking its current name after a fishing tackle shop.

Charles Marville, Rue du Chat qui Pêche (from the rue de la Huchette), 1868

Charles Marville, Rue du Chat qui Pêche (from the rue de la Huchette), 1868. Public Domaine

The story goes that, in the 15th century, a clergyman named Dom Perlet dabbled in alchemy in the company of a very clever black cat – the clever feline could extract a fish from the Seine with one swift swipe of its paw. Convinced that they were witnessing some kind of deal with the devil, three students took matters into their own hands, killing the poor unfortunate cat and tossing the body in the river. The alchemist disappeared at the same time as the dead cat… only to reappear a short time later. He said he had been away on a trip.

And as for the cat, he could be seen once again, calmly fishing at the water’s edge.

Street art by Némo on the rue du Chat-qui-Pêche

Street art by Némo on the rue du Chat-qui-Pêche. Photo credit: Autopilot/ Wikimedia Commons

From France Today magazine

Photo credits: A street sign on the rue du Chat-qui-Pêche by Kmlz/ Wikipedia; Street art by Némo on the rue du Chat-qui-Pêche by Autopilot/ Wikimedia Commons

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Sylvia Edwards Davis is a writer and correspondent based in France with a focus on business and culture. A member of the France Media editorial team, Sylvia scans the cultural landscape to bring you the most relevant highlights on current events, art exhibitions, museums and festivals.

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  • Sylvia Davis
    2020-06-07 06:58:15
    Sylvia Davis
    Thanks for your comment Paul. Perpendicular also describes two lines or surfaces meeting at a 90º (right) angle. ;-) Thanks for reading! –Sylvia


  • Paul Dillingham
    2020-06-06 19:26:49
    Paul Dillingham
    The street, perpendicular to Rue de la Huchette, gives on to the Quai Saint Michel on the river Seine in the 5th arrondissement. Perpendicular? Does the street go straight up into the sky?


  • June Cherry
    2016-07-08 18:23:00
    June Cherry
    Do you have an upcoming list of festivals and events in September for Paris, Champagne and Burgundy?