Paris is always a good idea. Especially when you have 8 hours in between a connection flight and a couple of hours to hit the city centre and explore la Ville Lumière for a couple of hours. My choice fell on a walking tour in the Quartier Latin, a stress free plan to allow plenty of time to make it back to Charles De Gaulle Airport. I never had the chance to explore it as I wanted it during my previous visit to Paris and this time I made up for it.
Famous for its bistros and cafes, and lively student life, the Latin Quarter is located in Paris’ 5th and 6th arrondissements. These are the main highlights and places on interests in the Latin Quarter that I penciled in my itinerary and that you shouldn’t also miss out.
Boulevard St Michel and St Germain
Flanked by trees, they can be considered the Latin Quarter’s main boulevards. Boulevard St Michel divides the 5th arrondissement from the 6th and runs North/South and half of it borders beautiful Luxembourg Gardens. From being a favorite location for the nightlife and the student scene in 1930s to becoming a fashion street filled by high-end shops, Boulevard St Germain is instead named after the district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. That’s also where you will find popular cafès “Les Deux Magots” and “Café de Flore”.
Museé de Cluny
This is more than just a visit to a museum (free on the 1st Sunday of every month) as it combines the archeological site of the Gallo-Roman baths (Thermes de Cluny), to the Hôtel de Cluny, a 15th-century building which houses the Musée National du Moyen Âge. Don’t miss out “The Lady and the Unicorn” (La Dame à la licorne) tapestries.La Sorbonne
With more than 21.000 students attending classes and more than 1200 professors teaching, La Sorbonne is one of Europe’s oldest Universities and for sure one of the most renowned ones.
Wanted by Louis XV as a church, it changed several time its function, becoming a mausoleum and then again a church to be permanently turned into the burial site of important French personalities such as Voltaire, Emile Zola, Victor Hugo, Rousseau and Marie Curie.
Le Jardin du Luxembourg
A stroll across the Luxembourg Garden, a nice take away pastry and a relaxing stop on one of the several benches and chairs available: this is what I did. The garden is pat of the Luxembourg Palace which is where the Senate gathers, has a stunning central pool, several flowerbeds. It’s amazing and just so colorful in Spring.
Philippe August Walls
While strolling around Paris, watch out for the rests of the 12th-century walls wanted by Philippe Auguste to protect the city and its treasures while he joined the 3rd Crusade. Some remaining parts can still be seen in the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th arrondissements. Sometimes, portions of the wall, which was 5 km long, are now been included in building as the one pictured here below that I spotted in Rue de Clovis.
Arènes de Lutèce
I stumbled upon it absolutely randomly, in a public park, I must admit it, and I was absolutely delighted. This is what’s left of a Gallo-Roman amphitheater, built in the 1st century AD, that could gather up to 15.000 people attending gladiators fights. Make sure you pay it a visit: it’s close to Place Monge (Metro Cardinal Lemoine) in a quarter called actually Arènes
Jardin des Plantes
This is nothing but France’s largest Botanical Garden with a surface of 280.000 flowerbeds and trees. Within the garden there are also greenhouses, the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution, the Mineralogy Museum, the Paleontology Museum and the Entomology Museum. It’s ideal for families visiting Paris with children.
Around 240 bouquinistes sell 2nd hand, vintage books along the Seine; these booksellers and their stands that closes like boxes at night are part of Paris soul since the 16th century. Whether you are looking to make a deal or spot some ancient manuscripts it’s a must see spot.
Shakespeare and Company
Speaking of books, you can not but enter the fantastic world of Shakespeare and Company, and independent English language bookstore in Paris. Opened in 1950s, it’s by now a literal institution with tons of events, workshops, book reading and a Bookstore café just next-door.