Latin Quarter: Travel

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By Courtney Traub. A historic center of learning, scholarship and artistic achievement in Paris , The Latin Quarter's mystique is well-merited.

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Unfortunately, the area is also a bit of a victim of its own popularity: It can be hard to see through some of the tourist-trap artifices to get at the fascinating heart of this beloved neighborhood. While you won't regret sacrificing a bit of time away from the more tourist-heavy areas of the City of Lights, obviously on a first trip to the capital you'll want to see the big-ticket attractions too. Check out the variety of great activities for prioritizing what to see on your visit to the Quartier Latin , and engage more deeply with its rich, incomparable history.

If a restaurant promises "authentic French cuisine" with the aid of a cardboard cutout of a pig donning a chef's hat, or if there are people outside the restaurant trying to lure you in with waves and pushy words, it's very likely not worth your time or Euros.

You may have noticed that this entire district is something of a book lover 's dream: From the open-air booksellers with their famed green metal stalls on the Seine to the aforementioned French mega-bookstores on Place St-Michel, you'll easily find a worthwhile tome. There are few places more iconic in the Latin Quarter than this beloved bookshop situated across the Seine and facing Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Opened in by consummate Parisian beatnik George Whitman—who passed away in —it's now owned by his business-savvy daughter, Sylvia. Under Beach's helm, the first shop was famous for hosting and publishing literary greats such as James Joyce. The more recent location is still a literary epicenter and a comforting refuge for English-speakers and readers.

For those visiting Paris for a longer spell, the shop also regularly hosts workshops and talks with great writers; it also hosts aspiring writers and poets, charmingly referred to as "tumbleweeds," by exchanging lodging upstairs for work in the shop. The institution that gave the Latin Quarter its name after the theology students, mostly monks and other religious figures, who occupied the then-Christian institution and worked exclusively in Latin, it retains a genuine air of prestige.

The star attraction here is no doubt "La Dame a la Licorne" The Lady and the Unicorn , a 15th-century series of enigmatic, luminous Bayeux tapestries that mesmerizes all who come to behold them. There are also interesting objects from medieval daily life, an aromatic garden modeled after those from the Middle Ages, and a basement level that reveals the building's Gallo-Roman foundations displaying that there once were thermal baths on the site.

It's an especially cozy and inspiring thing to do in the winter when the chilly temperatures make an indoors activity appealing. The Quartier Latin is, hands-down, one of the areas most blessed with excellent arthouse cinemas. Perched atop the knoll known as the Montagne St-Genevieve, on a clear day the sweeping views from outside make for a spectacular photo opportunity.

This neighborhood offers everything from vibrant market streets like Rue Mouffetard to classic old squares and pretty streets like Place de la Contrescarpe and Rue Monge. The quiet, charmingly cobbled residential streets are lined with trees and roaming with cats that lead to the magnificent botanic garden of Jardin des Plantes and an epic Natural History Museum.

Sepia-tinted photographs of a Latin Quarter paralysed by protest are now half a century old. Jean-Paul Sartre roused students, nurses, doctors and teachers into a frenzy of protest from his crudely constructed pulpit under the oak trees of the Boulevard Saint Jacques, demonstrators lobbed cobblestones over barricades by the elegant arches of the Sorbonne, and the noise of rioting echoed through the dome-like Pantheon. I moved to Paris over a decade ago to study at the Sorbonne and on my first day in the city, I was struck by the fifth and its vertigo-inducing mixture of imposing historical buildings and student cafes filled with shaggy haired flirting French teenagers.

It is eminently possible to spend an entire weekend in Paris without leaving the confines of this one arrondissement.

Designed in , the fragrant rose and lilac-filled gardens have fountains, statues, lawns and woodlands — and the prettiest benches in Parison which to spend a morning reading. Built in and inspired by the Alhambra, its green-tiled minaret glimmers amid the Haussmannian buildings. The biggest collection of arthouse cinemas in Europe, they rarely dub English films and come with ornate ceilings and plush s-style seating. Like many parts of Paris, the fifth has rapidly gentrified in the last few years. The College des Bernardins is a Cistercian monastery from , which is now reborn as a cultural hotspot for gigs, lectures and theatre performances.

Paris Latin Quarter | Best Food, Shopping & Things to Do

This being Paris, no district could be called dynamic without a much-vaunted food scene. After dinner, find your way to the Caveau de la Huchette. A mythic jazz bar set in a 16th-century building mere steps away from the Seine, it has been attracting music lovers since it first opened in Find a spot at one of the miniscule tables, buy a carafe of red wine, listen to the sultry jazz music and revel in the sheer Parisianness of it all.

In a quiet street the heart of the Latin Quarter, The Five Hotel , housed in a Hausmannian building, is in shouting distance of some of the best bars, galleries, restaurants and shops in our new favourite district. The small pod-like rooms have a futuristic feel that is amusingly incongruous with the old-school Parisian setting.

Find out more. With antique prints, gold mouldings on the walls and jazzy furniture, the design would look garish anywhere but Paris, where it feels fittingly opulent. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Start your Independent Premium subscription today. Independent Premium Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Premium.

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So named because international students communicated in Latin here until the French Revolution, the Latin Quarter remains the hub of academic life in Paris. A complete guide to the Latin Quarter in Paris, France. Latin Quarter travel guidde: Here are the best things to do in the Latin Quarter Your.