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 an 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.
The Latin Quarter is one of the areas of Paris where you can get whiplash
trying soak up all there is to discover. It is as if you were
magically dropped into a stew of famous places on 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 take a sojourn from
your touring. Somehow being in Paris becomes an excuse
to stop every couple of hours for some delectable snack. Life is rough on
the road, isn't it?
(5th arrondissement) (L) -
The Pantheon, which visually dominates the Latin Quarter, 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.
(5th arrondissement) (L)
The Sorbonne, the University of Paris, is the leading University
in France focused on the Humanities and Classical Studies. Founded in
1253, students from the Sorbonne have witnessed and participated in much of
the history of France. In the late 19th century the Sorbonne was
converted into a single building with a unified architectural theme.
Occupying the sites of the Franco-Roman baths, which have been
preserved, and the Hôtel de Cluny (where the abbots of the 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, although that era is its focus.
The museum is often called the Musée de Cluny since it is
located in the Hôtel de Cluny.
The Museum of the Middle Ages has a rich and fascinating collection and
we recommend a visit for those
interested in the historical progression from the Dark Ages through the
Middle Ages. Be sure to see the medieval-style garden. as well
as the inner courtyard.
See the Museum's
official website for details on the collection
and on visiting. The National Museum of the Middle Ages - The Baths
and Hôtel de Cluny is located at 6, pain Paul
arrondissement) (L) -
The Luxembourg Gardens are one of the most popular outdoor spots in Paris and have changed very little since they were created by Marie De Medicis,
wife of King Henry IV, in the early 17th century. The Medicis also built the adjoining,
gorgeous, Luxembourg Palace, which now houses the French Senate.
arrondissement) (L) -
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. The Grand Bassin, the octagonal pond in the center of the
often has a flotilla of miniature
motorized boats cruising its shores. If you or someone you are traveling with would like to
participate, you can rent a miniature boat and navigate the waters to your
Saint-German-des-Prés applies both to the oldest
church in Paris and the area that surrounds it. The church was destroyed by the
Normans and only the tower remains from the original structure, although the
interior is worth a quick walkthrough.
The areas around
the Church and along the Boulevard Saint-Germain offer numerous shops,
antiques stores, noteworthy restaurants and the Delacroix Museum.
Although there are a number of interesting churches in the area, undue
attraction is paid to Saint-Sulpice (16th century), which was featured as a
plot element in the Da Vinci Code. The photo above - right is of the
Saint- Sulpice gnomon with its brass line that extends from this monument
across the floor of the church. Although it is granted more sinister
motives in Dan Brown's book, the device was originally built to help the
parish priest determine the date of Easter. The church itself is
fairly unremarkable, except for several works by Delacroix. The church
is at the corner of Rue Saint-Sulpice and Place Saint-Sulpice
Near the corner of Rue Bonaparte and the Boulevard Saint-Germain, at 6 Place
Saint Germain des Prés, you will find the famous
Cafe des Deux Magots (based on a popular play about two Chinese merchants -
not maggots). The café was the favored establishment of the intellectuals
and artists in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. It was frequented by
Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso,
Camus and others of the intelligentsia. Today, you will likely only see
other tourists, as the Deux Magots is a very popular place to see in Paris.
Click here for more information about the restaurant from its
Also nearby, at 172 Boulevard Sainte Germain, is the Cafe de Flore, which is
know for its claim as the birthplace of Surrealism and the center of Dadaism, a
precursor of modernism, in Paris. During the 1930's the Cafe de Flore
was a center for writers and philosophers. See the restaurant's
official website for more
website is in French, so use Google translator if you do not read French.)
The National Museum of Eugène Delacroix is
located at 6 Rue de Furstenberg, a few blocks to the east and towards the
river. The museum, which occupies that artist's former apartment,
as well as his studio, contains paintings spanning Delacroix's
fabled career, his letters and other memorabilia. Closed Tuesdays,
the museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with tickets sold
until 4:30. For more information, see the Museum's official
Saint-Germain is experiencing a rebirth and becoming one of the trendiest areas in Paris,
is still known for its galleries and antique shops.
In addition, the neighborhood is gaining
notoriety as one of the top shopping districts for fashion.
Next - explore our menu on the right to find other
types of sightseeing in Paris.
Or - If you want to find out about a specific attraction
and know its name, look for it in our
Index of the Best Places To Visit In Paris.
If you need information about another travel destination, try
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.