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My third interview hails from the 5th arrondissement In Paris. Enjoy these insights and insider tips about the Latin Quarter from Elsbeth, who would never stay anywhere else in Paris but the 5th arrondissement.
Read More | This interview with Iva who shares all her favourite spots in the Marais.
This interview is with Benoît, a long-time resident of the 7th arrondissement (the Eiffel Tower district) who shares all his favourite things to do in the 7th arrondissement.
We Met In The 5th Arrondissement In Paris
On my first Valentine’s Day in Paris, I decided to go to a concert at the darling Church of Saint-Ephram in Paris’s Latin Quarter. An elegant lady swept past me and sat down on my right. Partway through the concert, there was a loud crash from the back of the church. Some poor soul had fainted. I leaned over and asked this woman beside me what the word for fainting is in French. She answered quickly, “I don’t know. I’m not French, I’m Swiss.”
The concert resumed soon after the cellist had raced to the woman with her water bottle. Obviously, this was a pre-COVID experience.
At the end of the concert, Elsbeth asked me to join her for “un verre.”
We sat in Place de la Contrescarpe at a café and found we had a lot in common, most importantly our love for Paris and the joy of being a flâneuse.
Thank you to the woman who fainted. It was the beginning of a great friendship between a Swiss and a Canadian. And it all started in the 5th arrondissement In Paris.
And just in case you’re curious, the French word “s’évanouir” means to faint.
Also, if you’re wondering how to flâner or be a flâneuse (f) or flâneur (m) check out this article.
And, Elsbeth does speak French. During our entire friendship, we only speak and write to each other in French!
Who Is Elsbeth?
I am a Swiss who loves to travel and is very open to new things and new ideas. I have always loved being in Paris. It was my dream to live in Paris. I visited Paris as a child several times but when my daughter studied here and I visited, I knew I would like to come back to Paris.
Right after I finished my political career, I said to myself, “I am going to live in Paris.”
How Did Elsbeth Choose The 5th Arrondissement In Paris?
It was all really a bit “par hasard.” I searched on Airbnb and as soon as I saw this apartment, I knew it was going to be my apartment in Paris. It was in the 5th arrondissement in Paris and this became “my quartier.”
Why Is Elsbeth So Passionate About The 5th Arrondissement In Paris?
It’s my second home. I lived there for six months. It really is like a small village. All the servers in the restaurants, and the shopkeepers came to know me. It’s a beautiful feeling to be greeted like a local. The 5th arrondissement in Paris is a very interesting and lively area with lots of students and lots of activities. There’s dancing on rue Mouffetard in front of the church on Sunday mornings. The market at Place Monge on Sundays is where I bought my groceries.
I love the evenings in the 5th arrondissement in Paris. I love taking long walks along the Seine and stopping to watch the dancing on the quays. Salsa? Tango? Rock? It’s all there! It’s an animated and lively way to pass the evening.
Jardin des Plantes and Jardin du Luxembourg (which borders the 5th arrondissement) are two amazing green spaces to walk, wander, relax, and enjoy.
The Grand Mosque of Paris has stunning gardens and a great tea room while the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) has a beautiful terrace with wonderful views.
Looking for a unique Paris experience? Why not stop by the Grand Mosque of Paris for a spa, including a steam bath, gommage, and massage? The Hammam at the mosque is terrific. Here is how to plan a visit to the Hammam at the Grand Mosque of Paris.
And then there’s the Place de la Contrascarpe. With its central fountain, cafés, and restaurants, all sorts of people mingle here including locals, tourists and students, often to the backdrop of musicians playing. It’s magnificent, especially in the summer.
Elsbeth’s Top Picks For The 5th Arrondissement In Paris
1. Place de la Contrascarpe
I had my breakfast here every morning. I’d have a coffee and read the paper, thrilled to be living in Paris. It’s quiet here in the morning as opposed to the evening liveliness. And as mentioned above, it is one of the main gathering places in the 5th arrondissement in Paris.
2. The Panthéon
I can’t talk about the 5th arrondissement in Paris without mentioning the Panthéon. Walking in the crypt amongst the intellectual greats of France that are buried here is an honour. I particularly am interested in the women buried here: Simone Veil, Josephine Baker, Marie Curie, Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Germaine Tillion, and Sophie Berthelot.
Read More | The 6 Women Honoured in the Panthéon, Paris.
3. The Seine
As already mentioned, I love walking, having a picnic and enjoying the Parisien ambience by the Seine.
Elsbeth’s Restaurant Picks In The 5th Arrondissement In Paris
- Café Tournbride at 104 rue Mouffetard is a very typical French restaurant where you find a lot of locals from the neighbourhood.
- La Petite Périgourdine at 39 rue des Ecoles is close to the Sorbonne and a favourite.
- Le Petit Cardinal at 29 rue Monge is also a favourite!
- La Contrascarpe at 57 rue Lacépède is a typical French brasserie right at Place de la Contrascarpe.
- Bouillon Racine at 3 rue Racine (just in the neighbouring 6th). I wrote a whole article on the Bouillon Restaurants in Paris. Read about why you should experience a Bouillon Restaurant.
- Chez Léna et Mimile at 32 rue Tournefort – We eat well here at this charming, typical French bistro.
Hidden Gems In The 5th Arrondissement In Paris
I have a passion for my quartier and here are some of the places that people might miss and I think of as hidden gems are the Place de la Sorbonne where the linden trees smell magnificent in the spring, the Roman arena, the little church of Saint-Ephrem (where we met!), the Passage de la Poste, and the steps on the side of Saint-Etienne du Mont used in the film Midnight in Paris.
Interesting Anecdotes About The 5th Arrondissement In Paris
Emily in Paris has had quite a few scenes filmed in the 5th arrondissement in Paris. Checkout la Place de l’Estrapade, la Boulangerie Moderne with its gorgeous façade, the Café de la Nouvelle Marie at 19 rue des Fossés Saint-Jacques, and Terra Nera Restaurant renamed in the series as Les Deux Compéres.
The Lycée Henri IV is in the 5th Arrondissement In Paris. This prestigious public secondary school, founded in 1796, is where many famous French people attended high school including the current President Emmanuel Macron.
There’s actually a children’s book called The Witch of rue Mouffetard (“La Sorcière de la rue Mouffetard”) by Pierre Gripari.
Where To Stay in The 5th Arrondissement In Paris
I lived in the Latin Quarter for 6 months and now return to Paris frequently. Here are my favourite hotels to stay in:
Hotel Saint Christophe – he was the saint of travellers and I love staying here and getting the top floor room where I can see the Eiffel Tower!
Le Hotel Maxim and Hotel Vendôme Saint-Germain are also top picks for me!
If Elsbeth’s hotel recommendations are booked, here are other suggested hotels for the 5th arrondissement in Paris. If apartments are more your style, why not try this Paris apartment near la Sorbonne or this one, with exposed beams, near the Jardin des Plantes.
I hope you can discover Elsbeth’s passion for the 5th arrondissement in Paris on your own explorations in the Latin Quarter.
Until next time,
Gerry L says
Over 50 years ago, I was an au pair for a family living on rue Lacépède. The 5th feels like MY arrondissement, too. Place de la Contrascarpe has changed a lot since those days. The green grocer, the charcuterie, the butcher (where I once picked out a lapin — feet and all — for the family dinner) are all gone. Instead of a family market district, it is only cafes, restaurants and fast food joints. The only constant is change.
Alison Browne says
Oh yes, Paris is constantly changing. I think the Marais is similar to what you are saying about the Latin Quarter. How lucky you were to have the experiences that you did! The lapin- makes me smile!