If you’re looking for the authentic French experience, featuring markets, where you can do wonderful bits of shopping and cafés where you can sit and contemplate the world around you whilst sipping a great cup of coffee, the Latin Quarter is a definite must see tourist destination in Paris.
LOCATION AND FEATURES
Famously known for its bohemian, rustic ambiance, the Latin Quarter shows a different aspect of Paris entirely. Known as the Quartier Latin in French it only seems to heighten its artistic appeal to anyone. It is situated between the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Seine, on the left bank. It surrounds the University of Sorbonne, having watched the university flourish from what was originally a college of theology is now one of France’s state universities. The student life that emanates from the university is definitely a contributing factor to the ambiance the Latin Quarter has to offer. Spanned by tiny labyrinths of streets, the Latin Quarter is an adventure on its own, with all the little shops, bistros and cafes to explore you could spend well over a day getting lost in its streets, and don’t be fooled, when described as little it means LITTLE. There is a street named Rue du Chat-Qui-Pêche, the cat who fishes, that is so narrow people have to walk in single file! It is characteristics like this that show the old Paris, where it has not been modernized to suit the new-age generation making it ever so easy to be engulfed by its original charm.
There are many attractions within the ‘boundaries’ of the Latin Quarter to be explored and enjoyed, besides that of book stalls and cafés. Found all around the Latin Quarter are some beautiful old churches that are often overlooked, such as the Église Saint-Severin Saint-Nicholas. This church displays some the finest examples of gothic architecture from the 15th century but is not as commonly known, it also often has organ recitals in which are open to the public, allowing you to experience a musical performance from another age. There is also the Pantheon, which is one of the Latin Quarter’s most famed landmarks. Built in 18th century, originally as a church and later converted into a mausoleum, it houses the bodies of most of France’s most famed personalities. It was built in celebration and remembrance of the lives of Frances most influential and brilliant men, and their accomplishments. There is a beautiful inscription on the building itself that pays homage to these men stating: “Aux Grands Hommes la Patrie Reconnaissante”, meaning in English “To Great Men, Their Country is Grateful”. This attraction is symbolic, like most of Paris’s monuments.
Of course, it would be foolish to overlook the little bistros, cafes where you can sample authentic French food without the exuberant prices and the rustic clothing and book stores. Simply walk down the medieval boulevard, Saint-Michel, and take your pick, choose the one that attracts you the most, don’t be afraid to explore, you will only be rewarded.