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Paris Travel Guide:

Best Places to Visit  in Paris - The Latin Quarter


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The Latin Quarter lies atop the original Roman Settlement (Lutetia) that became Paris. 

In the Middle Ages, this area was a center of education  filled with professors and students conversing in Latin and it became known as the Latin Quarter.

So don't look for the Copacabana here - although you can find something close in Montmartre.


        Click to read our new Guide To The Best Places in Paris

This section of our Paris Travel Guide describes the best places to visit in the Latin Quarter.  Click the links below to go directly to a specific place or just continue reading to explore this section of Paris.

The Latin Quarter   Île de la Cite and Île Sainte-Louis    Notre Dame  Palais de Justice   Jardins and Palais du Luxembourg  Musée National du Moyen Âge  The Pantheon  Saint-Germain-des-Pres

We provide brief descriptions of the leading attractions and link these to detailed maps of the areas described. The blue numbered location symbolized on the maps are linked back to the descriptions of the attractions so you can click them and return to the feature's description on this page.

  • The Îl de la Cité and the Latin Quarter are areas of Paris where you can get whiplash trying to see all there is to discover.  It is as if you were magically dropped into a stew of famous places and streets once walked by important historical figures.

  • This is an enjoyable area to visit and one that is made so by cafes  that will beckon you to stop.  Somehow being in Paris starts to become an excuse to stop every couple of hours for some delectable snack.  Life is rough on the road, isn't it?

  • Don't forget that our pictures will show captions when you "mouse" them in Internet Explorer or Firefox

  • In addition to our "print-style" maps of Paris, we have added a more detailed street map based on Google maps.  To examine a satellite view of  the tourist attractions in Paris, click the airplane symbols that accompany the descriptions of most attractions. 
    •  The symbol looks like this 

  • You can also view the map as a street map or as a terrain map by using the buttons at the top right of the map display.
In the description following the name of each attraction, the first notation is the arrondissement.   The second notation is R for Right Bank, L for Left Bank or IC for Île De La Cité. The "map symbol number" indicates the numeric "id' of the symbol showing the location of the attraction on the map
The Latin Quarter   Top of Page
A fun way to see the Île de la Cité and the bridges and monuments along the Seine is to take a night cruise on the Bateaux-Mouches.

The boats depart from a station on the  Right Bank between Pont de L'Alma and Pont  des Invalides.





Notre Dame,  Ile de la Cite, Paris
















Parisians (and tourists) relaxing at the Jardins du Luxembourg

































  • The Latin Quarter and surrounding attractions

    Although the  Latin Quarter  remains the heart of the Left Bank, it has lost some of its ambiance and is now an area in transition.  It still retains the charm of the academic community and is home to the University of Paris (including the Sorbonne), which dates from the early 13th century.  If you need to cross the Seine to reach the Latin Quarter,  be sure to take some time to explore the Île de la Cité and its attractions.

    Île de la Cite     (4 ém) map symbol 14  

    This quaint island offers great views of the Seine as it wanders through Paris.   In addition you will find some of the most historic attractions Paris has to offer in this compact section of the city.

    • Dating from the 3rd century BC, the Île de la Cité is one of the oldest, continuously inhabited areas of Paris.  Within its boundaries you will find the awe inspiring Notre Dame Cathedral,  the ornate Ste. Chapelle church, the darkly famous Conciergerie and the Palais De Justice.  Each of these attractions is rewarding, so be prepared to spend an afternoon in this section of the City.
    • The Pont Neuf (New Bridge) is  the oldest bridge in Paris and dates from the early 17th century.  It is one of the most photographed bridges in the City and one that has appeared in many movies, most recently in the Bourne Supremacy with Matt Damon.

     Île Sainte-Louis  (4 ém) -  map symbol 14

    • The Île Saint-Louis, comprised of tightly packed 17th century townhouses, is a delight to walk and a great place for a meal.

    Notre Dame     (4 ém) (IC)  - map symbol 13

    The grand Cathedral of Paris was commissioned by Bishop Maurice de Sully in 1160. It is still in use as Roman Catholic Cathedral of Paris.

    The Cathedral's unique look was heavily influenced by a restoration in the 1860's.  Notre Dame is an impressive building and one of the “must see” attractions of Paris.  The exterior and the interior of Notre Dame are endowed with numerous spectacular features, so do not make this a quick walk-by.

    The exterior has many interesting features (particularly the stone carvings representing events from the Bible), but it is important to note that Notre Dame was one of first great cathedrals to employ flying buttresses (visible along the east end of the cathedral).  The wing-like elevated arches transferred the load from the vault of the cathedral to a buttress (or pier) outside the building proper.  This innovation allowed the building of taller structures, including openings in exterior walls for large windows (which would, without the presence of the flying buttresses, make the wall too weak to support the load).

    The  Cathedral's stained glass is a treasure, especially the famous  West Rose Window (above the entrance) and North Rose Window. Some of the glass in these frames and most of the designs are original and date from the early 13th century.

    If you have the stamina and interest, you can climb to the top of Notre Dame for a grand view of Paris that you will share with fearsome gargoyles. (Although we have never seen Victor Hugo's Hunchback there, were are sure he must be skulking around somewhere close by.)



    Palais de Justice     (4 ém) (IC) -map symbol  14 

    Opposite of Notre Dame you will find the Prefecture de Police and behind it, the Palais de Justice (Court House) which contains the Conciergerie and Sainte Chapelle.

    • The Conciergerie is a portion of the  palace that was converted to a torture chamber and prison for those eventually tried in the courts at the Palais De Justice. Among the famous once imprisoned here during the French Revolution was Marie Antoinette.   Her former cell is now an understated, informal memorial that merits a glance.


    • Inside the Palais de Justice you will also find Ste. Chapelle, a church that which was built for Saint Louis (King Louis IX of France -13th Century) to house the Crown of Thorns, pieces of the True Cross and other holy relics from the Crusades. This small church is a treasure and visiting it is a memorable experience The stained glass, is the oldest in Paris and still possesses strong colors.  Be sure to explore the Upper Chapel which has the best glass and beautiful painted stonework.


    The Pantheon      (5 ém) (L)

    The Pantheon started life as a church commissioned by King Louis XV and completed in the late 18th century while the French Revolution was in progress.  Loosely modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, the massive, attractive church  was built along the plan of a Greek cross and included an extremely large crypt.  After the Revolution, the building was put into service as a burial place for the distinguished citizens of France.  It is the final resting place for Voltaire, Emile Zola, Victor Hugo, Pierre and Marie Curie and Alexander Dumas among other notable persons. 

    • In addition to its role as a mausoleum,  the scientists among you will know that the dome of the Pantheon is where Leon Foucault tested the Foucault pendulum to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth.
    • The structure is also known for the impressive frescos that were part its original design as a church in honor of St. Genevieve.

    Paris Latin Quarter Walking Tour

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    Musée National du Moyen Âge     (5 ém) (L)

    Occupying the sites of the Franco-Roman baths and the Hôtel de Cluny (where the abbots of Cluny order lived in 15th century Paris) the National Museum of the Middle Ages provides a historical overview of medieval life through the arts, manuscripts, tapestries and  everyday objects of the time.  The collection is broader than the Middle Ages, but that era is its focus.  We found the Middle Ages Museum to be fascinating and recommend it to those interested in the historical progression from the Dark Ages through the Middle Ages.  See the Museum's official website for details on the collection and on visiting.

    Jardins and Palais du Luxembourg     (6 ém) (L)  - map symbol 15

    The gardens have changed very little since they  were created by Marie De Medicis in the early 17th century. The Medicis also built the adjoining,  gorgeous, Luxembourg Palace that today houses the French Senate.

    • The gardens are popular  on sunny days and a fine place for an afternoon walk. The area is crowded around noon, as many Parisians lunch in the  gardens. See our note at the right about "boating" in the Grand Bassin.


    Saint-Germain-des-Pres      (6 ém) (L) - map symbol  16

    Saint-German-des-Pres is the oldest church in Paris. It was destroyed by the Normans and only the Tower remains of the original church. The areas around the Church and along the Boulevard Saint-Germain offer numerous shops, antiques stores and several restaurants featuring fantastic food. Saint-Germain is becoming one of the trendiest areas in Paris and is also gaining notoriety as one of the top shopping districts for fashion.

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An example of the beautiful stained Glass in Ste. Chapelle


Lower Chapel in Ste. Chapelle

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