Without a doubt, Paris is best discovered through its beautiful streets and authentic neighborhoods. They all present unique treasure of history and culture attracting people from all around the world to discover.
One of the neighborhoods not to be missed is probably the Latin Quarter, the birthplace of literature.
Although the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre Museum are the top attractions of the city, the rich heritage of Paris has more characteristics to present around its local areas like Montmartre, Ile de la Cité and Le Marais.
The Latin Quarter is an old and essential corner of Paris to discover. Let's see what it has to offer to its visitors.
What is the Latin Quarter ?
"Quartier Latin" in French, is a centuries-old name of an area in Paris.
It was called this way by the locals in the height of the middle ages. It got this name due to the inhabitants, all coming from different parts of the European continent as students of the catholic institutions in this neighborhood.
The Latin language was the common one in this international area different from the rest of Paris. Hence, it kept this title and has always been called the Latin Quarter of Paris by the locals.
Where is the Latin Quarter in Paris ?
The limits of the Quartier Latin area start straight from the Seine river. The bridges of Saint-Michel and Petit-Pont just next to the Cathedral Notre-Dame border the half of Paris called "the Left Bank".
The Saint-Michel fountain is the most suitable point to begin the discovery. The diagonal end stretches between the old church of Saint-Médard and Jardin des Plants the extensive natural park.
Here is a map to locate the neighbourhood of Latin Quarter in Paris :
How can I go to the Latin Quarter ?
Actually, Saint-Michel is just the most central point of Paris. You can easily walk in a few minutes from the metro stations :
- Cité Station on Line 4 in front of the Notre Dame
- Odeon Station on Line 4 & 10, at Saint-Germain
- Cluny La Sorbonne Station on Line 10
If you prefer to walk from the periphery towards the center of Paris, start from :
- Censier-Daubenton Station on Line 7
- Port-Royal Station on Train Line RER-B
What can I do at the Latin Quarter ?
There are a few motives bringing many travelers to this part of Paris.
First of all, the traditional atmosphere with its cobbled stone streets, small shops, book stores, characteristic cafés and restaurants...
Parisians, students and tourists meet round in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Mostly you will feel a less touristic, though still interesting part of Paris.
The largest pieces of ancient Roman ruins in Paris are in Latin Quarter. There are archaeological findings in the Cluny Museum, a part of which is already 2000 years old.
Don't be surprised if you see the remaining raws of an ancient theater while passing another corner of the neighborhood.
Another good point is, many talented writers, intellectuals and academics from abroad have preferred to stay around here during their time in Paris. This is why you might see many people chasing Ernest Hemingway or Samuel Beckett around.
These big writers were coming here because they were attracted by the intellectual heritage of the area. Plus, the rents were always more affordable here of course compared to the other central and fancy quarters. It is not entirely true anymore.
The most traditional and reputable educational institutions of France are still here scattered all around the Quartier Latin.
So, particularly for the younger travelers, it would add another reason to hang around to observe the Parisian youth or even to blend in.
Unlike the giant boulevards with shiniest stores, the small squares and narrow streets here have a different charm. The vintage local stores or a modest but delicious fondu place (try the one with truffles !!!) could make your trip even more special.
Last but not least, there are numerous monumental buildings from different eras on the each side of the streets. Let's dig and discover the most precious museums in Latin Quartier.
Museums in the Latin Quarter
Although its classic streets and buildings are best to stroll freely, there are a couple of nice options to go in because of its architecture or collections.
Don't forget to check our official Paris Ticket Shop to get all the good deal on museums and visits in Paris.
Here are the main 3 attractions not to miss in the Latin Quarter of Paris :
The Pantheon was built by the King Louis XV of France when he was recovered from serious illnesses. Of course, best location was here at the top of Saint Genevieve Hill, who was the holy protector of Paris.
The church was accomplished in 1790 during the French Revolution. The next hundred years, it was transformed back and forth between a church and a national and secular monument.
Inside the Pantheon, there are a series of paintings portraying key events in the lives of saints and rulers of France. There is a crypt under the ground-floor where the biggest national figures like Zola, Hugo, Voltaire, Rousseau, Marie Curie and many more are resting.
Speaking of Curie, her famous radiology laboratory is also a scientific museum with free entrance nearby in the Quartier Latin.
2. Cluny Museum
Also called National Museum of the Middle Ages, this museum is a must-do right in the middle of Paris. The Cluny Museum has many interesting findings connecting the ages of Paris from the 1st century to the 16th. They are including statues, carpets, jewelries and many more.
However, the building's own layered history also makes it one of the most interesting museums in Paris. A corner of the structure goes back to the Roman Empire as a public bathhouse. Meanwhile, the rare medieval building you see today had risen on it after 14 centuries.
Important Note : The museum is currently closed for modernisation work. Expected to reopen in 2022. Check the official website of Cluny Museum of Middle Ages in Paris for updates.
3. Rue Mouffetard & Place de la Contrescarpe
Aside from the monumental buildings of the neighborhood, this two names consist the backbone of the Latin Quarter. Contrescarpe Square is just the locals' favorite to have a drink while people-watching.
The street Rue Mouffetard (locals call it Le Mouff) is a long and busy street best for international food, designer shopping and tasting in Paris, especially towards the Square Saint-Médard. Check more ideas for exciting nightlife in Paris.
How does Latin Quarter sound to you ? What would you like to discover in that neighbourhood ? Do you have questions about the place ?
Let us know in the comments below.
To discover other neighbourhood in Paris, check our following articles :