One place to visit in Paris on la Rive Gauche (the left bank of the Seine) is the très chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés, but this side of the river is also known for its Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter). This is where you’ll find Paris’ oldest monuments, dating back to the Roman period.
The “Parisii”, as the people who lived in Paris in the 1st century BC were called, were settled on Île de la Cité. When the Romans conquered Paris in 52 BC, they developed the city on the western slope of the hill called Montagne Sainte-Geneviève and this part of Paris would later become the Latin Quarter.
Once there, it would be a real shame to limit your visit to taking a selfie in front of the fountain and eating mediocre food in the tourist traps. This district, which is called Latin because students used to take their Latin classes here, has much more to offer, as long as you move away from the Seine and head towards the Panthéon.
Indeed, for many visitors to Paris the first experience of the Latin Quarter is, unfortunately, Place Saint-Michel and its fountain, which is a favourite meeting spot. Framed by the Gibert Jeune bookstores, souvenir shops, and average-quality restaurants catering to tourists and claiming to serve French specialities, Place Saint-Michel can be off-putting and give a poor impression of this district, which is actually beautiful if you look a little deeper.
These streets, which are among the oldest and most beautiful in Paris, are lined with restaurants in which no Parisian would ever set foot. The famous English-language bookshop “Shakespeare and Company” is also in the vicinity.
To get you well away from Saint-Michel’s tourist traps, I offer culinary tours of Paris for the foodies among you. I’ve managed to find hidden treasures, even along the most touristy streets. Chez Maï and Lengué are two examples.
Hello, my name is Guillaume Le Roux, and I’m a professional guide, member of the Paris Visitors Bureau, who offers personalized and authentic tours of my home city of Paris. I am an expert about Paris (levraiparis.com) & I'm also a food/travel/music editor (716lavie.com). My goal is to show you the historical elements as well as the contemporary aspects of my hometown. Full profile ⋅ Leave a Review
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