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Visiting the Latin Quarter

A lovely day in the cradle of Paris

The Latin Quarter is located on the Left Bank of the Seine, straddling parts of the 5th and 6th arrondissements, where the center of the Gallo-Roman city Lutetia (Lutèce in French), the predecessor of Paris, was founded over 2000 years ago. It is renowned for its bustling and intellectual atmosphere. Indeed, it has been being the student district since the Sorbonne was built in 1253! What to do and visit in the Latin Quarter? Here are the must-see places in this quarter steeped in history.

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Things to do during the day in the Latin Quarter

The Latin Quarter remains home to countless museums, so you could start your day with a visit to one of them.

Travel back in time to the Middle-Ages at the Musée de Cluny. Founded around the ancient remains of the Cluny thermal baths, this museum presents a wide collection of medieval objects and works of art. If you are more interested in science, go to the National Museum of Natural History. Be sure to see the mythical Grande Galerie de l’Évolution and its 7000 animal species. After your visit, you may stroll through the Jardin des Plantes which is a haven of greenery in the Latin Quarter. Another must-visit for those who are architecture enthusiasts is L’Institut du Monde arabe. Admire this contemporary building built by Jean Nouvel, and go inside if you would like to explore Arab civilization.

Linger in one of the mythical café-restaurants of the Latin Quarter. “Les Deux Magots” and its neighbor “Le Café de Flore” are legendary addresses in Paris because they were once frequented by famous writers and philosophers like Ernest Hemingway, Louis Aragon, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

The Latin Quarter can be easily visited on foot. Strolling along its maze of streets, squares and buildings is a good way to enjoy its historical charm. Walk in the lovely rue Saint-André des arts and rue de la Huchette. If you have time, also try to see rue Saint-Jacques which is supposed to be one of the oldest street in Paris. Rue Saint-Jacques intersects with rue Soufflot, which leads to the most emblematic monument of the Latin Quarter: the Pantheon. This impressive building is a mausoleum where rest important personalities who have marked the history of the French nation. Pierre and Marie Curie, Victor Hugo and Jean Moulin are among those buried there.

During your walk in the Latin Quarter, you may plan to go to 49 rue Monge, where you will find the Arènes de Lutèce. This place is a quiet small public garden, but it is also the remnant of an ancient Roman amphitheater.

Other architectural masterpieces are worth a visit in the Latin Quarter: the Sorbonne University, the Great Mosque of Paris and its minaret, the church of Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, which is one of the oldest in the French capital, and the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont where rests Sainte Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris.

Things to do in the evening in the Latin Quarter

To finish your day in the Latin Quarter, head toward the oldest cabaret in Paris and the only one cabaret on the Left Bank: the Paradis Latin. It is a magnificent place to enjoy a show in the Latin Quarter. Indeed, the Paradis Latin was built by Napoleon in 1803, and then rebuilt by Gustave Eiffel in 1889. It opens its doors six nights a week. Inside, you will attend a colorful, poetic and sensual show, “L’Oiseau Paradis”, directed by the famous French choreographer Kamel Ouali. You will have the opportunity to see the traditional high-kicks of the French Cancan dancers and to taste the cuisine of the Michelin-starred chef Guy Savoy, who has been creating the menus for the Paradis Latin’s dinner-shows since 2020.

For a last drink, you may go to the lively rue Mouffetard, to the Caveau de la Huchette, a mythical jazz club and temple of swing in Paris, or to the Piano Vache, a relaxed bar with a rock’n’roll spirit.

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