Staying in the Latin Quarter when traveling to Paris promises a youthful and vibrant experience, since this district is home to the prestigious Paris-Sorbonne University. Streets lined with hip cafes and affordable restaurants, the 5th arrondissement also neighbors the trendy Saint Germain de Pres. Explore the 5th arrondissement and Latin Quarter, named for the fact that Latin was the language taught at Universities in the Middle Ages!
Young hipsters, intellectuals, and eclectic hippies reside in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement of Paris making it one of the most diverse cultural, artistic and culinary centers of France.
Cathedral Notre Dame
Before you can see the Cathedral Notre Dame, you’l be able to hear the bells chiming across the Paris morning. Located on a small island in the middle of the Seine River, your approach to Notre Dame will have you spellbound. Readers of Victor Hugo’s novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, will be looking skyward to the Le Stryge carvings and the Cathedral spires to envisage what Hugo saw as he penned the novel.
Built over 150 years and completed in 1345, as you enter the Cathedral Notre Dame, you’ll walk past the gigantic organ which has 7,374 pipes and a 32-key pedalboard! Before you travel to Paris, you can learn the history of the 10 bells of Notre Dame and why they are named Benoit-Joseph, Gabriel, Maurice. What are the other names of the bells?
As you gaze to the alter, you can imagine some of the most historical events of all time taking place here. In 1558, Mary, Queen of Scots was married to the Dauphin Francis. On 2 December 1804, Napoleon’s coronation ceremony was held with with Pope Pius VII officiating. As you pass around the back of the alter, you will see dozens of people staring up at a carved stone statute of a young girl with her hands joined in prayer. This is one of France’s heroins, Saint Joan of Arc who was canonized in the Cathedral Notre Dame in 1920.
After marveling the inside of the Cathedral Notre Dame, be sure to buy a crepe from one of street vendors outside the Notre Dame. Filled with sugar, lemon, strawberry jam or Nutella, these mouth watering crepes (thin pancakes) will literally melt in your mouth. Sit with other tourists and marvel the outside of the Cathedral.
Walking back to the 5th arrondissement, you can visit the Pantheon and admire the brilliance of the Neoclassicism architecture. Completed in 1790, this mausoleum contains the remains of distinguished French citizens.
Jardin des Plantes
While cathedrals, museums, and architectural structures will have you indoors during your travels to Paris, enjoying the magnificent outside gardens is a must. The Jardin des Plantes is located in the 5th arrondissement and is the main botanical garden in France. Be sure to visit the Royal Menagerie, which was moved to the gardens from Versailles in 1792. Another of our favorites in the Jardin des Plantes is the the Labyrinth maze and the Rose Garden which has hundreds of species of roses and rose trees.
The Streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Walking the streets or sitting in a trendy bistro in Saint Germain des Prés is one of the Parisienne pastimes you'll enjoy when traveling to Paris. Known for it’s many cafes and restaurants, a must stop for coffee or lunch is Les Deux Magots cafe and Café de Flore while strolling along the Boulevard Saint-Germain. These famous cafes have been rendezvous points for famous artists and writers since the 1880s. We love the hot chocolate at Cafe de Flore!
Jardin du Luxembourg
Not quite the Central Park equivalent yet proportionally very big for Paris, the Jardin du Luxembourg covers over 56 acres in the 6th arrondissement.
Created by Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, in 1612 the gardens surround the Luxembourg Palace which has a rich history including being owned by King Louis XIV in 1694. The grounds are spectacular and the pools overlooking the Palace make for a perfect picnic spo. Be sure to stop by the Medici Fountain, then enjoy the view of the Pantheon Paris from within the Jardin du Luxembourg.
Pont des Arts
From the 6th arrondissement of Paris, the Louvre Museum is 1.5 miles and accessible by crossing the the Pont des Arts. This bridge has the perfect photo backdrops of panoramic views along the Seine. The Louvre Museum needs no introduction as one of the finest museums in the world housing it’s prize attraction, Leonardo Da Vinci’s priceless Mona Lisa painting.
The Louvre Museum
With seating in front of paintings and sculptures, you can enjoy a few hours or days at the Louvre seeing artworks from ancient Greek and Egyptian empires to those of the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. The Louvre Museum is an incredible journey into the world of art that no traveler to Paris should miss out seeing.