The Latin Quarter's crowded backstreets come alive
Quarter (Quartier Latin) has long been the center of Parisian
Paris's Left Bank, the district spreads across the fifth arrondissement and parts of the sixth.
Its heart is the esteemed Sorbonne University, one of the oldest centers of highest education in the world.
Throughout history, intellectuals have flocked to the quarter's charming cafés to talk politics and philosophy and to its seedy
nightclubs to partake in spirited debauchery.
Today, curious tourists outnumber would-be Hemingways on the main boulevards,
but the spirit of the district persists in the crowded backstreets.
Quarter is best explored by wandering its streets aimlessly, but
be sure not to miss the following highlights:
literature at Shakespeare
and Company. Opened in 1951 by George Whitman, Shakespeare
& Company takes the name and spirit of Sylvia Beach's historic
bookstore, which served as a gathering place for Anglo-American
intellectuals between 1919 and 1941. Today, the quaint shop
is the perfect place to browse through new and used books and
chat with fellow readers.
• Snack on
Paris street food. Head down Rue de la Huchette, a bustling street
lined with lively restaurants and bars. Pick up a banana-nutella
crepe or french fry-filled gyro from one of the many stands,
or browse through silly souvenirs.
• Visit the Sorbonne.
Stroll through the university's main campus, sneak a peek into
the library and if you're really feeling intellectual, say you're
a prospective student and inquire about sitting in on a class.
• Sip coffee
Deux Magots. Undoubtedly the most famous café in
Paris, this spot on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, opposite the
church, was once the favorite haunt of artists like Simone de
Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Ernest Hemingway.
Take an outdoor seat for prime-people watching.
• Catch a
choral performance at St-Germain-des-Pres.
This church, the oldest in Paris, was originally completed in
AD 558 but owes most of its current appearance to 12th-century
reconstructions. The Church frequently stages concerts and recitals
for the public; visit during the daytime to obtain a schedule.
the Luxembourg Gardens. One of the most magnificent outdoor spaces
in Paris, the Luxembourg Garden was created in the 17th century
at the request of Marie de Médicis. Centered around a
stately palace, the garden contains sprawling lawns, colorful
flower-beds and immaculately-groomed shrubbery. During the summertime,
residents and tourists crowd around the Observatoire fountain
to read and relax.
By day, don't miss a visit to
nearby Luxembourg Gardens