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Paris - the Latin Quarter


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The Latin Quarter is the spiritual heart of Paris’s Left Bank, or Rive Gauche, and where you should begin your day. Once a bohemian playground it was the home and haunt of artists, poets, philosophers, writers and other ‘shady’ characters, especially at the turn of the 19th and 20th Century. Today it is still an area where the people are less wealthy but where life is more vibrant and creative.

The St. Michel stop is perhaps the best Metro station to alight at. At the place St. Michel you can admire the tree lined boulevard St Michel before heading off into the small streets around. You don’t need public transport to explore the Left Bank, just comfortable shoes and time to spare.  Don’t forget to see the new Musée du Quai Branly as well as the Musée d'Orsay and the Panthéon. And of course this is where you can enjoy the best view of the Eiffel Tower. And if you love views, then walk to the square Viviani and enjoy the site of the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral across the river. Try and find the Chat qui Pêche, a little lane that is the city’s tiniest street, so narrow you can almost touch both sides at once.

The cafés around the area are lively. Retrace Oscar Wilde’s footsteps by visiting the famous Les Deux Magots in Place St-Germain-des-Prés where the writer loved to have breakfast when in Paris, but of course you will be in the company of other tourists. Instead go to Brasserie Balzar. Albert Camus and Sartre ate and drank here in its beautiful art déco interior and thanks to its patio on rue des Ecoles you can comfortably watch the world go by over a drink or a small snack.

Make your way afterwards to the Jardin du Luxembourg, built in 1776 where there are gardens, yachts for hire and places to relax and settle, perhaps with a picnic if you have managed to avoid eating so far, not easy in Paris! Move on to Montparnasse and see how many of the famous bars you can visit, such as Dome, La Coupole, Select, Rotonde and Closerie de Lilas. The nearby cemetery has famous guests such as Baudeleaire and Sartre.