Paris

Latin Quarter

With its bohemian atmosphere, the Latin Quarter is the liveliest area in Paris, full of artists and students who make it the heart of Parisian nightlife.
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The Latin Quarter is certainly one of the most picturesque corners of Paris. Here you can breathe in a unique atmosphere in which the bohemian charm of students and literati, the vintage flavour of cinemas, cafés and jazz clubs mingle with new trends coming from overseas, among ethnic restaurants, the Paris mosque and faraway cultures.

Strolling among quaint little shops, patisseries, bakeries and bookshops will be a real pleasure as well as mingling with the many university students and breathing the intellectual air of Paris.

Things to do in the Latin Quarter

Nestled between the 5th and 6th arrondissements, the Latin Quarter is named after the academics and students of the past who spoke Latin at universities.

Today, this lively and vibrant area is the symbol of Parisian university life: in fact, between boulevard St. Michel and rue St. Jacques, the Sorbonne, France’s most prestigious university, is spread out in all its magnificence. The presence of students arriving from all over the world makes life in the neighbourhood lively and full of vibrancy: they meet in the cafés, cinemas and clubs of the area, creating a unique atmosphere.

Take your time to explore the most hidden alleys and famous boulevards on foot, in search of quaint shops, overflowing markets and small neighbourhood bistros.

Boulevard Saint-Michel

1Bd Saint-Michel, Paris, France

If you’re looking for the liveliest street in the Latin Quarter, the answer is easy: the Boulevard Saint-Michel where you’ll find an imposing fountain with a bronze statue of Saint Michael, a meeting place for students, spectacular with its evening illuminations. Street artists perform here and the atmosphere is unforgettable for all.

From here you can continue your exploration of the neighbourhood: don’t be in a hurry, lose yourself in the many cobbled alleys such as rue de la Harpe and rue du Chat Qui Pêche, narrow and exquisitely picturesque, full of historic bookshops, boulangeries, brasseries, vintage shops, record and comic book shops, old grocery stores and antique dealers full of curious objects.

This maze of narrow streets, winding like a small labyrinth around Saint Michel, is certainly the best known part of the Latin Quarter. Here, a myriad of restaurants offering cuisines from all over the world, as well as the classic Parisian bistros, follow one another relentlessly. From Lebanese to Vietnamese, Italian to Moroccan, here you can indulge and sample culinary specialities from every corner of the world.

The downside of this picturesque area is that it is overly touristy. We advise you to arm yourself with a lot of patience to avoid waiters lurking like snipers outside restaurants to invite you in. Above all, beware of tourist traps, small restaurants serving French cuisine whose bargain prices are often synonymous with poor quality, especially when it comes to fish. Favour the less prominent restaurants, out of the way of the more famous streets, and perhaps the less overpriced ethnic cuisines.

Rue Mouffetard

2Rue Mouffetard, 75005 Paris, France

This long, cobbled street is certainly one of the most characteristic in Paris and also one of the oldest: in fact, in Roman times it was the street that connected Lutetia (Paris) to Rome.

Walking along it unhurriedly will be like fully immersing yourself in the capital’s most authentic life, strolling past fishmongers, bakeries with fragrant aromas, butchers’ shops mingling with cafés always crowded with young people, record shops, fromageries, bookshops, wine bars and vintage shops.

Framed by magnificent, richly decorated 17th- and 18th-century buildings, it will allow you to admire an unusual and authentic Paris. The street is famous for its many open-air markets such as La Mouffe: every day all the food shops display their wares outside, bringing colour and fragrance to the whole street. It is also one of the busiest streets in the evening, thanks to its many restaurants.

Rue de la Huchette

3Rue de la Huchette, 75005 Paris, France

Rue de la Huchette, together with Rue Mouffetard, is one of the oldest and most lively, touristy and bustling streets of the Left Bank, dating back to the 13th century.

If you are looking for a lively place to spend an evening of nightlife, this is the place to be: taverns, bars, clubs and theatres await you here, as well as a Greek enclave full of small, typical restaurants. The nightlife in this area is renowned, also for its often low-budget prices, unusual for Paris.

Pantheon

4Pl. du Panthéon, 75005 Paris, France (Website)

One of the most important monuments in the Latin Quarter is undoubtedly the Pantheon, originally built as a church and designed on the model of the Pantheon in Rome .

This fabulous architectural jewel was transformed into a burial place, becoming a large mausoleum that today holds the remains of people who wrote French history such as Victor Hugo, Rousseau and Voltaire, to name but a few.

Jardin des Plantes

557 Rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris, France (Website)

The Jardin des Plantes was created in 1626 as a garden for medicinal plants and is now considered the largest botanical garden not only in the capital, but in the whole of France, with its 280,000 m² of surface area.

Open to the public, the garden is part of the Natural History Museum and boasts a large number of wonderful flowers and plants: a Rose Garden, a garden with a collection of roses from all over the world, a Winter Garden as well as one of the oldest zoos in Europe. A fascinating place for adults and children to visit.

Sorbonne University

6Sorbonne, 75005 Paris, France

Known and renowned throughout the world, the Sorbonne is the oldest university in France. Founded in 1253 by the theologian Robert de Sorbon, today it is a prestigious university, thanks to the five faculties established by Napoleon: Science, Humanities, Catholic Theology, Law, Medicine.

Some personalities of world culture such as Balzac, Pierre and Marie Curie and Giuseppe Ungaretti had the honour of studying here. The scene of numerous student revolts in the 1960s, today the Sorbonne is still one of the most prestigious universities in which to study and home to numerous research centres. In fact, around 30% of its students are foreigners, who move to Paris to study every branch of humanistic and scientific culture.

Luxembourg Gardens

775006 Paris, France (Website)

In the heart of the Latin Quarter is one of the most beautiful parks in Paris, the Luxembourg Gardens, which surround the magnificent Luxembourg Palace, built by Marie de’ Medici in the 17th century and now home to the French Senate.

It is the perfect place to find a moment of relaxation during your visit to Paris, strolling through the beautiful flower-lined avenues, admiring the grand statues and admirable sculptures dedicated to famous artists, authors and historical figures, such as the marvellous Medici Fountain.

The park is simply spectacular during the spring blossoms and with the warm colours of autumn: it is loved by sportsmen and women seeking a corner of peace and quiet within the great capital.

Shakespeare and Company Library

837 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France (Website)

Founded in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, this historic bookshop was a haunt for great writers such as Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce to name but a few.

Closed during World War II, due to the German occupation of Paris, it only reopened in 1951 thanks to George Whitman , who brought in stacks of books he had collected over the years when he was a psychology student at the Sorbonne. Before long, the bookshop became a haven for homeless and penniless writers, also known as trumbleweed, or bales of hay, the kind you see rolling in western films.

These would-be writers came and went as temporary guests of the bookshop, slept amidst the piles of books, and in return for this makeshift accommodation, had to perform certain daily tasks: read every day, help out in the shop and write a page of their autobiography every day. Whitman thus managed to collect an unparalleled archive of true stories that the bookshop still jealously preserves today.

Today it is one of the most photographed and popular bookshops for tourists from all over the world, who face long queues to take selfies amidst mountains of antique volumes.

Arènes de Lutèce

949 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris, France (Website)

A stone’s throw from the Monge market, the Arenes de Lutece is one of the few surviving vestiges of Roman times in Paris. The amphitheatre dates back to the 2nd century and housed around 10,000 spectators who flocked to watch gladiator fights.

Open to the public, today it has become a space used by the people of the neighbourhood to play football, chat, take the children for a walk and play petanque, the game of boules.

The church of Saint Severin

101 Rue des Prêtres Saint-Séverin, 75005 Paris, France (Website)

The church of Saint Severin is one of the most fascinating in Paris as well as being an extraordinary example of flamboyant Gothic architecture.

You will be captivated by the beauty of this building, both externally with its three-tiered bell tower housing the oldest bell in Paris and the medieval ossuary in the garden, and internally with the double ambulatory around the choir and the spectacular stained glass windows including the Tree of Jesse, a true masterpiece.

Paris Mosque

112bis Pl. du Puits de l'Ermite, 75005 Paris, France (Website)

This large complex of Hispanic-Moorish buildings is the spiritual heart of the Muslim community in Paris and is a worthwhile stop on an alternative route in the neighbourhood.

The interiors are inspired by the Alhambra in Granada, with decorations and mosaics rich in colour and detail, and the great 33-metre-high minaret towers over the neighbourhood: you will feel as if you are stepping into the illustrated book of One Thousand and One Nights with its shady gardens, white marble and the sound of gushing fountains. A true corner of peace and serenity amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.

Don’t miss the Jardin des délices, where the pillars of Islam, represented by five large palm trees, are located, the Hall of 40 Columns, the place where believers come into contact with heaven, and the Madrasa, the school of theology.

Obviously there are strict rules for visiting it, including decorous dress, but for a truly unique visit, we recommend a stop at the North African-style salon de thé, where you can sample Middle Eastern delicacies including mint tea and sweets, the Moroccan market where you can browse among the colourful merchandise and a break in the hammam, the Turkish bath open to men and women separately on alternate days.

Istituto del Mondo Arabo

121 Rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris, France (Website)

Built in 1987, theArab World Institute is located near the Seine and with its nine floors this modern structure is entirely dedicated to the Arab world.

Admission is free and from the terrace on the top level you can enjoy a magnificent view of the river and some of Paris’ most famous monuments such as Notre Dame, theOpera and the Centre Pompidou. Besides an excellent restaurant, you can also visit a permanent exhibition on Arab and Islamic culture and a space for temporary exhibitions.

Marché Monge

131 Pl. Monge, 75005 Paris, France (Website)

Every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday morning, Place Monge comes alive with a picturesque market overflowing with colours and scents, exquisitely Parisian.

Just a stone’s throw from Rue Mouffetard and not far from the Jardin des Plantes, the Place Monge market takes place outdoors and over the years has become increasingly popular: its rural atmosphere has won over tourists who come here to immortalise the colourful stalls .

In fact, almost forty traders display their wares, offering fresh, quality products: the best of local produce, from meat to fish, including fruit and vegetables, organic preserves, cheese, wine and seasonal flowers.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

Where to eat

The Latin Quarter is famous in Paris for its buzzing nightlife and gastronomic scene: it is a succession of picturesque restaurants and eateries that will suit all tastes and budgets. Here you can truly take a world trip at the table, sampling the culinary traditions of all countries: from Italian to Greek cuisine, from Middle Eastern to Japanese dishes, not to mention, of course, French cuisine.

Another not-to-be-missed experience in the neighbourhood are the historic cafés, where you can sit and watch life teeming around you. You will be spoilt for choice: from Brasserie Lipp to Café de Flore in Boulevard Saint-Germain or Les Deux Magots in Place Saint-Germain des Pré. These places steeped in old-world charm have long seen the passage of artists, philosophers and writers who lived in the Latin Quarter, including Hemingway, Picasso, Proust and Chagall to name but a few.

Where to stay

A stone’s throw from Notre Dame Cathedral, in the heart of the left bank of the Seine, the Latin Quarter is one of the liveliest and most bustling areas of Paris .

Immersed in a colourful multi-ethnic atmosphere, the district is the meeting place of university nightlife, thanks to the presence of the Sorbonne. Staying in this area is therefore perfect for those in search of history, culture, but above all nightlife and goliardic spirit . Of course, being very lively both during the day and at night, it can be noisy and crowded until late at night. The quietest areas? Definitely the area around the Pantheon, near rue Saint-Jacques and the area around boulevard Saint-German.

Thanks to the presence of students, the area is full of cheap accommodation, although there is no shortage of luxury hotels. Unfortunately, it suffers from the fact that it is a very touristy neighbourhood. For this reason, both accommodation and restaurants should be chosen carefully to avoid overpriced bills and poor quality. It should also be noted that the area near St-Michel is well served by public transport: for instance, from the metro and RER station of St-Michel Notre Dame you can directly reach the two airports of Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly, as well as the Palace of Versailles. In contrast, the Port Royal and Luxembourg area has less extensive metro connections to the central areas of the capital.

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How to get there

Overlooking the banks of the Seine, a few steps from Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter is easily reached by public transport, although connections are less than in other areas.

Where is located Latin Quarter

How to save on transport and entrance fees

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