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The Latin Quarter of Paris is a charming part of quintessential Paris. Cobbled streets, stately architecture, vestiges of Roman Paris, and one of the world’s oldest learning institutions, La Sorbonne, are cornerstones of the Latin Quarter of Paris.
Found on the left bank in the 5th arrondissement, the Latin Quarter of Paris is the perfect place to flâner. Stroll along tiny streets, stop in a café, browse through a book store or the Jardin des Plantes, and visit some of France’s greatest thinkers at the Panthéon.
17 Top Things To Do In The Latin Quarter of Paris
1. Absorb Intellectual Brilliance At La Sorbonne
This world-renowned university in the Latin Quarter of Paris was founded in the 13th century by Robert de Sorbon. Latin was spoken by the professors and students in the streets of the Latin Quarter and thus the name was born.
Sit at a café in Place de la Sorbonne with its central fountain and admire the entrance to La Sorbonne with its beautiful façade and the blue dome of the Sorbonne Chapel elegantly soaring skyward.
Care to visit this distinguished university? Try contacting firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a guided tour.
This Latin Quarter of Paris gem is found at 1 rue Victor Cousin
Closest Métro: Cluny- La Sorbonne
2. The Latin Quarter Of Paris: Visit The Panthéon
Originally erected as a church to honour Sainte Geneviève, after the French Revolution the Panthéon was transformed into a temple where famous French men (yes, mostly men) are interred. Wandering through the crypt, you’ll find a real who’s who of the French greats. Philosophers including Voltaire, writers including Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, and scientists including Pierre and Marie Curie are found in the crypt. The latest addition to the Panthéon (fall 2021) was Josephine Baker, one of six women honoured in the Panthéon.
Stand in awe at the stunning neo-classical building modelled after the Pantheon in Rome, explore the interior with Foucault’s Pendulum demonstrating that the earth rotates on its own axis, and look for countless inspirational French greats in the crypt. Oh, how the Latin Quarter of Paris is inspiring!
From April to October 31 climb the 206 stairs of the Panthéon to the viewing platform for marvellous views over Paris.
This Latin Quarter of Paris gem is found at Place du Panthéon
Closest Métro: RER Luxembourg, Cardinal Lemoine
3. Uncover All The Treasures In Saint-Étienne-du-Mont
There are many reasons to visit Saint-Etienne-du-Mont. You might, as I was, be drawn to its purple door visible from the Panthéon. Or perhaps its soaring 16th-century belfry. You might want to sit on the famed staircase from the movie Midnight in Paris where Owen Wilson waited to be picked up each night. Or, you might want to see the shrine dedicated to Sainte Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. Saint-Etienne-du-Mont also has the last remaining rood screen in Paris, an elaborate white stone partition separating the chancel from the main part of the church.
Saint-Etienne-du-Mont was built between 1492 and 1626 and thus is a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles. Note the stunning stained glass windows dating from the 16th century and the early 17th century most of which are in their original locations. Perhaps you will time your visit with a Saturday evening organ concert.
This Latin Quarter of Paris gem is found at Place Sainte-Geneviève
Closest Métro: Cardinal Lemoine
4. Step Back In Time At The Cluny Museum
There are many smaller museums in Paris, but here tucked into the heart of the Latin Quarter of Paris is the Museum of the Middle Ages. Housed in a stunning Gothic hôtel de Ville where the abbots of Cluny used to stay is an outstanding collection of artefacts.
Remind yourself that Paris used to be ruled by the Romans while you stand in the ancient Gallo-Roman baths.
Be blown away by the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry series and find countless relics from Notre-Dame de Paris, and Sainte-Chapelle.
Items from daily life in the Middle Ages, glittering golden crowns and the remarkable chapel make this a favourite small museum in Paris.
Read my full account of the Cluny Museum in the 5th arrondissement.
This Latin Quarter of Paris gem is found at 28 rue du Sommerard
Closest Métro: St-Michel
5. The Latin Quarter Of Paris: Stand In The Arènes des Lutece
Oh, Roman Paris!
Right in the heart of the Latin Quarter of Paris is a Roman arena dating from the first century AD. Roman gladiators fought here in the 5th arrondissement. Imagine that. Right in Paris.
And why the name Lutèce? Aeons ago, the capital of France was called Lutèce or Lutetia and was occupied by the Romans. Ahh, Paris! Never a dull moment.
Come and sit in an ancient Roman arena where 15000 spectators used to cheer.
This Latin Quarter of Paris gem is found at 49 rue Monge
Closest Métro: Jussieu, Place Monge, Cardinal Lemoine
6. Relax At The Jardin des Plantes In The Latin Quarter Of Paris
The Latin Quarter of Paris has one of the most beautiful and varied parks in Paris. You’ll never tire of things to do in these Botanical Gardens that are 400-years-old. Stroll along the alleys and admire the plane trees and stunning rose, peony and alpine gardens. Visit the Natural History Museum, one of the world’s oldest zoos and the glass and steel Grandes Serres (greenhouses) that have been in use since 1714. Like a true explorer, find your way to the hilltop gazebo amidst the yew-hedged maze!
Spring blossoms provide a riot of colour including flowering cherry blossoms and the spectacular white cherry blossom tree (Prunus Shirotae).
The Jardin des Plantes also has a unique Christmas light display. In 2021, illuminated prehistoric animals were placed all through the park.
Fun Fact: I first heard of the Jardin des Plantes when reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I knew I needed to spend time here. The book was also the inspiration for my first trip to Saint-Malo.
This Latin Quarter of Paris gem is found at 57 rue Cuvier
Closest Métro Stations: Gare d’Austerlitz, Censier Daubenton, Jussieu
7. Drink Tea In The Latin Quarter At The Grand Mosquée de Paris
One of France’s largest places of Islamic worship is found in the Latin Quarter of Paris, just a few steps from the Jardin des Plantes. The 26-metre high minaret is impressive along with the ornate Moorish- style architecture and design. Admire the decorative tiles and horseshoe arches in the garden. Be sure to enjoy a cup of Moroccan mint tea and what about relaxing at the Hammam (the Turkish baths) that are for women only. Add in a massage and a gommage to make your day!
Pro Travel Tip: See the magnificent wisteria in bloom here in the spring.
This Latin Quarter of Paris gem is found at 2bis place du Puits de l’Ermite
Closest Métro: Place Monge
8. Enjoy A Concert In A Small Church In The Latin Quarter
There are three small churches in the Latin Quarter of Paris that are dear to my heart: Église St-Julien-le-Pauvre, Église Saint-Éphrem-le-Syriaque, and Église Saint-Séverin. They are all unique in their own way. Église St-Julien-le-Pauvre is one of the oldest religious buildings in Paris, dating to the 12th century. Église Saint-Éphrem-le-Syriaque built in 1733 has phenomenal acoustics and Église Saint-Séverin houses the oldest bell in Paris in its bell tower! Classical concerts are performed at all three of these churches and make for a special evening in Paris.
Where to find these gems in the Latin Quarter of Paris:
St-Julien-le-Pauvre, 1 Rue Saint-Julien le Pauvre
Église Saint-Éphrem-le-Syriaque, 17 Rue des Carmes
Église Saint-Séverin, 2 Rue des Prêtres Saint-Séverin
9. The Latin Quarter Of Paris: Stroll Rue Mouffetard
Plan your stroll along one of my favourite Paris streets, rue Mouffetard, on a Sunday when the service at Église Saint-Médard ends. As the parishioners flood out of the rustic church, sit at the corner café, watch dancers spin to live music and know that this is as local an experience as it gets.
Then wander along one of the oldest market streets of Paris, hailing from Roman times. Given its lifespan, rue Mouffetard has a long and intriguing history but today it is lined with boutiques, grocers, butchers, cheese shops, cafés and crêperies. Take note of the lovely façade, designed by Italian painter Eldi Gueri, across from église Saint-Médard.
10. Feel The Vibe At Place de la Contrescarpe
Either start or end your stroll along rue Mouffetard with a drink or meal at lively Place de la Contrescarpe. It’s a bustling spot with plenty of leafy trees and a fountain where musicians are often entertaining the crowd. Place de la Contrescarpe, in the Latin Quarter of Paris, is surrounded by typical French cafés. There are lots of small Greek and Lebanese restaurants where you can pick up a reasonably priced meal. My favourite is to order a falafel sandwich at Le Cèdre and then perch in the middle of Place de la Contrescarpe, like one of the many university students.
Ernest Hemingway fans will immediately recognize Place de la Contrescarpe from the opening of A Moveable Feast. He lived from 1922 to 1923 with his first wife Hadley in the Latin Quarter of Paris at 74 rue du Cardinal Lemoine.
11. The Latin Quarter Of Paris: Sit In Square Rene Viviani
Square Rene Viviani has wonderful views of Ile de Cité and Notre Dame. But its real claim to fame is that this square in the 5th arrondissement of Paris boasts the oldest tree in the city. The black locust or “robinier” was brought from North America in 1601 and has been watching over Paris for more than 400 years. Sit under its shade and imagine the past. Over the centuries, who has sat here? Who walked by when it was just a little sapling?
Pick up some melt-in-your-mouth choux pastries (cream puffs) from around the corner at Odette’s. Settle in and enjoy the moment!
If you’re crazy for spring blossoms in Paris you’ll find wisteria here in the spring and during the Christmas Season, a lovely small Christmas market replacing the one that usually takes place in front of Notre Dame.
12. The Latin Quarter Of Paris: Head To The Seine
While in the Latin Quarter head to the Seine. Plan for a picnic sitting across from Ile Saint-Louis with Notre Dame in view. Gather your picnic items on rue Mouffetard or at the shops at Maubert-Mutualité (except on Mondays).
I just love the dancing by the Seine at Quai Saint-Bernard (Jardin Tino-Rossi) in the 5th arrondissement of Paris. Wander down to the Seine in the evening and join in the dancing or simply sit in one of the amphitheatres and watch. It’s people-watching with a seductive twist. The Latin Quarter of Paris can get your feet tapping! Will you choose to dance salsa, tango, or rock?
13. Browse Shakespeare and Company
I’ll never forget my friend resisting my idea to stop by Shakespeare and Co. “Why are we going to an English bookstore in Paris?” She was swept away the minute we arrived.
Shakespeare and Company has a long history starting with Sylvia Beach wanting to provide a meeting place for writers such as James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway (have you been to the Hemingway Bar in Paris?). The current location of Shakespeare and Company opened in 1951 and continued as a gathering spot for writers. It’s iconic, this bookstore in the Latin Quarter of Paris, and you too will love exploring its corners and shelves. Be sure to head up the creaky stairs and ponder the quote from Hafiz, one step at a time.
After browsing and purchasing, stop by the coffee shop Shakespeare and Company Café and dive into your new book!
Looking for other great English bookstores in Paris? The Abbey Bookshop, run by a Canadian, is just around the corner. Please note the Canadian touch – maple syrup is available to drizzle in your coffee!
This Latin Quarter of Paris gem is found at 37 rue de la Bûcherie
Closest Métro: St-Michel
14. Find French Gastronomy At Maubert-Mutualité
Get off at the Metro Maubert-Mutualité and look for the little row of boutiques.
Here you will find one of the best croissants in Paris at La Maison d’Isabelle (47ter Bd Saint-Germain) and one of my favourite Paris fromageries, Fromagerie Laurent Dubois (47ter Bd Saint-Germain). This is the perfect place to shop for a picnic by the Seine.
Around the corner is Aux Merveilleux de Fred (2 rue Monge) one of my favourite pâtisseries in Paris!
Look for the little market that runs from 7 am to 1:30 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
15. Step Back In Time At Le Collège des Bernardins
Once again it is possible to step back in time while exploring the Latin Quarter of Paris. The Collège des Bernardins brings you back to 1248 when monks lived and studied in this space.
Enter the Collège des Bernardins and walk through the impressive former nave and sacristy. Today it is used as an exhibition centre and event venue organizing events from lectures, to yoga evenings, to film screenings.
This Latin Quarter of Paris gem is found at 18 -24 rue de Poissy.
Closest Métro: Cardinal Lemoine
16. Tap Your Toes At Le Caveau des Oubliettes
There is something about being in the Latin Quarter of Paris and descending into this 12th-century medieval dungeon to hear live music. It’s close quarters down in the stone-walled dungeon and a bundle of fun listening to a jazz, funk, or blues concert.
This Latin Quarter gem is found at 52 rue Galande.
Closest Métro: St-Michel
17. The Latin Quarter Of Paris: Find Emily’s Haunts
The Latin Quarter of Paris is completely charming and so it comes as no surprise that it is used in film sets. I have stumbled across filming in action several times while walking or biking through the 5th arrondissement.
Let’s talk Emily in Paris. Emily moves into her apartment when she arrives in Paris and it is located just a few minutes from the Panthéon in Place de l’Estrapade. Place de l’Estrapade is a lovely, small square with several benches and towering trees. The Boulangerie Moderne, with its traditional and oh-so-Paris façade is where Emily discovers the delights of pain au chocolat.
I hope you have as much fun exploring the Latin Quarter of Paris as I do!
Until next time,
More Paris Info…
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La Butte aux Cailles, tucked away in the 13th arrondissement, is another place in Paris that has retained its village-like charm. My article on La Butte aux Cailles will lead you to discover some of the area and its visually enticing street art.
Canal Saint-Martin is another place full of small restaurants, boutiques and plenty of character. Stroll the bridges of the canal under the chestnut trees and feel like a true Parisian. All the details on this “bobo” district are in this article on Canal Saint-Martin.
Here are all the things to do on Ile Saint-Louis, one of the oldest villages in Paris.
Don’t forget that the 7th arrondissement has lots to see and do once you have seen the Eiffel Tower.
And the 11th arrondissment of Paris? Authentic and full of great restaurants and shopping (like a local).
Other Paris and France Travel Tips:
Travelling to Paris alone? This article on navigating Paris alone is full of tips and tricks for the solo traveller.
This page has all my articles on Paris that will help you plan out your trip, including day trips from Paris. I hope you subscribed to my newsletter to get my free download – An Amazing 2-day Itinerary in Paris.
If you are going further afield in France, make sure to check out my page on France.