SIDE OF THE SEINE: LEFT BANK
Better known as the Latin Quarter, the 5th is one of my personal favorites. Known for its scholarship, youthful population, and winding cobbled streets, it is a lively area, home to many of the city's universities, and therefore, university students.
The two main boulevards running through the arrondissement, Boulevard St. Germain and Boulevard St. Michel, are lined with bistros, cafés, shops, and most importantly, used bookstores. Though the streets of the 5th may not be as grand as the streets of some of the other popular arrondissements, it still possesses its own distinct charm, and it is a wonderful quarter to wander and pass the day. Or pass forever.
SHOULD I STAY HERE?
Oui, oui, oui. The Latin Quarter is centrally located and full of life and character. If you come across a charming apartment or hotel in this quarter, you're sure to have a lovely...and lively stay in Paris.
- Shakespeare and Company: Featured in my post on An Ideal Day in Paris, this is irrefutably one of my favorite spots in all of Paris. Truly, I could spend hours every day perusing the book-lined walls and curling up with a stack of books on the upper level in one of the bookshop's cozy nooks.
- Sorbonne: One of the first universities in the world, the Sorbonne is now comprised of several higher learning institutions, though it once housed the University of Paris. If you're in the city for 2 or three months, you can even sign up for French classes here at the Sorbonne, though I've heard the registration process is quite tedious and excessive.
- Pantheon: This gothic cathedral, with incredibly stunning architecture, was initially commissioned by Louis XV to stand as a church, but after the French Revolution, the government converted it to serve as a mausoleum. Its crypt holds the remains of such brilliant minds as Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Marie Curie, and Rousseau.
- Grand Mosque de Paris: Contributing to Paris' diversity, this magnificent mosque is one of the largest in France. Its designs and architecture will leave you mesmerized. For only 3 euros, you can enter the building and wander around the mosque, the library, and the grounds, marveling at its sublime gardens and fountains that serve as an oasis away from the hectic city. Stop into their renowned Salon de Thé for a cup of mint tea accompanied by a slice of almond cake.
- Cluny Museum: For an afternoon of insight into medieval life, make your way to the Cluny museum and browse the collection of relics, sculptures, paintings, and medieval tapestries, then head outside for a walk among the ruins of the Roman Baths.