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Must-See Paris: Latin Quarter

Latin Quarter nightlife
The Latin Quarter's crowded backstreets come alive at night.


The Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin) has long been the center of Parisian intellectual life.

Situated on 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.

The Latin Quarter is best explored by wandering its streets aimlessly, but be sure not to miss the following highlights:

shakespeare and company, paris

• Peruse 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.

les deux magots restaurant, paris

• Sip coffee at Les 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.

• Explore 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.

Luxembourg Gardens
By day, don't miss a visit to
nearby Luxembourg Gardens


Paris Latin Quarter top attractions & Metro stops

Shakespeare & Company
37 rue Bûcherie, 5th arrondissement
Metro: Cité

Les Deux Magots
6 place Saint Germain des Prés, 6th arrondissement
Metro: Saint Germain des Prés

La Sorbonne
1 rue Victor Cousin, 5th arrondissement
Metro: Saint-Michel or Odéon

Church of Saint Germain des Prés
3 place Saint Germain des Prés, 6th arrondissement
Metro: Saint Germain des Prés

Luxembourg Gardens
Off boulevard Saint-Michel, 5th and 6th arrondissements
Metro: Odéon

About the Author... Jessica Arriola Marati


More about the Latin Quarter around the Web:

Latin Quarter - Trip Advisor - See what travelers say about the top things to see and do in one of Paris' most colorful neighborhoods.

15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Latin Quarter, Paris - Feast your eyes on stunning photos as you're shown around the most familiar sights including how to get there and related resources.

Left Bank Restaurants - Tom's Guide to Paris - Now that you've seen it all, it's time to check out this insider's guide to top neighborhood eats, including vegetarian options, street food and fine dining.


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