Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by Kelly
The Latin Quarter is one of Paris’s oldest districts. Filled with narrow cobblestone streets, the Latin Quarter still retains much of its medieval architecture. This area of Paris was once a Roman village, and it dates back to the Middle Ages. The Latin Quarter first revolved around its university, which was first chartered by King Philip II in the year 1200 AD. The Latin Quarter got its name because scholars from all over the world began traveling to the university to learn the Latin language.
When you visit the Latin Quarter today, you’ll find numerous historical sites, excellent cafes, and charming parks. In this post, we’ll share our guide to the 25 best things to see and do in the Latin Quarter in Paris.
About the Latin Quarter
Paris is made up of 20 arrondissements, or municipal districts. Portions of the Latin Quarter are within the 5th and 6th arrondissements.
The Latin Quarter is known as a student center of higher education. The Sorbonne was the first university in Paris, and it still stands in the Latin Quarter today. The Latin Quarter also contains the Université Paris Cité, Panthéon-Assas University, and the Collège de France. It’s not uncommon to see students studying at the many cafes in the Latin Quarter.
Boulevard Saint-Michel is the largest street that runs through the Latin Quarter, and it’s the most modern. However, once you leave the main boulevard, you’ll find lots of small cobblestone streets.
My favorite thing to do is to wander some of the narrow streets without a map or a purpose. I’ve made some of my best local “discoveries” by going a bit off the beaten path. Because of this, my recommendation is to set aside some time in your itinerary to just wander through the Latin Quarter and enjoy everything you find. You’ll stumble upon unique bookshops, cafes, hidden squares, and gardens.
TIP: Consider buying the Go City Paris Pass. This pass includes numerous destinations and tours within Paris, so you can bundle and save money! One of the included tours is the Latin Quarter Selfie Tour.
25 Things to Do in the Latin Quarter in Paris
(We created this map to help you easily locate each of the places we mention!)
1. Fontaine St. Michel (St. Michel Fountain)
Address: Pl. Saint-Michel, 75006 Paris, France
Many visitors begin their day exploring the Latin Quarter at Place Saint-Michel. When we last visited Paris, we visited the Sainte-Chapelle church in the morning, and then we walked over the bridge (Pont Saint-Michel) to Place Saint-Michel.
My favorite part of the public square is Fontaine Saint-Michel. This fountain was created in 1860 and features the archangel Saint Michael brandishing a sword. Also depicted in the fountain are two dragons that spit water, as well as sculptures of the four classical cardinal virtues (prudence, power, justice, and temperance).
I think this is a truly impressive fountain, and it captures my attention every time I visit Paris. On a sunny day, it’s really nice to sit near the fountain and observe all its details.
2. Take a Latin Quarter Gourmet Food Tour
One of the best ways to explore the Latin Quarter is to take a food tour! A food tour of the Latin Quarter (linked here) will take you to all the best places. We really love to take food tours, because instead of ordering just one large dish, you’ll get to try bites of lots of different foods. You’ll get to visit cheese shops, bakeries, creperies, and more on this tour.
3. Walk Along Quai Saint Michel
The walkway that borders the Seine River in the Latin Quarter is called Quai St. Michel. You’ll be able to observe the beautiful bridge Pont Saint Michel and enjoy watching the boats cruise by. You’ll also see many bouquinistes (riverside book boxes) filled with treasures. The boxes are operated by independent book sellers, and on any given day you’ll see dozens of these open. In addition to books and manuscripts, you’ll also see prints and artworks for sale. Purchasing an item from a bouquiniste makes for a great souvenir!
3. Sorbonne Université
Address: 15-21 Rue de l’École de Médecine, 75006 Paris, France
Sarbonne Université was founded in 1253 and is known simply as La Sorbonne. The Sorbonne is one of the cornerstone’s of the Latin Quarter due to its influence over the centuries. The university is still an active university, and thousands of students attend its courses.
It’s worth visiting the Sorbonne just to catch a glimpse of its exterior. (It makes for an impressive backdrop for photos!) Inside, you’ll find the Grand Hall, Grand Amphithéâtre, and the Grand Salon. It is possible to attend a group tour to view the university’s many famous sites. The tour lasts 90 minutes, and at the time of this writing, costs 15 euros.
4. Musée de Cluny (Cluny Museum)
Address: 28 Rue du Sommerard, 75005 Paris, France
The Musée de Cluny is dedicated to preserving the Latin Quarter’s medieval history. Because of this, it’s also known as the National Museum of the Middle Ages. If you’re interested in France’s medieval history, this is the museum you need to visit!
The museum consists of two primary buildings: the Thermes de Cluny (Roman thermal baths) and the Hôtel de Cluny.
Many people visit the Musée de Cluny to view the original The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. Experts believe that the tapestry was created in the 1500s.
Note that this museum is closed on Mondays. At the time of this writing, a regular admission ticket costs 12 euros. Check their website for the most updated information.
Address: Pl. du Panthéon, 75005 Paris, France
One of the most famous sites within the Latin Quarter is the Panthéon. The Panthéon was built in 1790, and it constituted the first major monument in the city of Paris. The structure was built with the goal of becoming more grandiose than St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. The Panthéon was built to be a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve, who is the patron saint of Paris.
Located within the Panthéon are numerous pieces of art, a crypt (Voltaire and Victor Hugo are interred there), and Foucault’s pendulum (which was a device created in 1851 that showed the Earth’s rotation). On the main facade, you’ll see sculptures depicting Nation and Liberty. To the left, are scholars and statesmen. To the right, are soldiers.
You need to pay for an admission ticket, and you can buy your ticket online. Audio guides are also available.
6. Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens)
Address: 75006 Paris, France
While you’re in the Latin Quarter, stop by the Jardin du Luxembourg. With 57 acres to explore, you could easily spend several hours here on a nice day. The Jardin du Luxembourg is divided into French gardens and English gardens. In the middle, there is a forest and a pond (Le Grand Bassin). Children love sailing small toy sailboats across the the pond, which makes it a great place to visit if you’re traveling to Paris with kids. You’ll also find over 100 statues, an apiary, a rose garden, and a greenhouse.
Some things you’ll want to be sure to see are:
- Palais du Luxembourg: Once housed the royal family, and during the French Revolution it even served as a prison.
- Medici Fountain: A beautiful fountain that was originally built in 1630 with many modifications over the years. It’s in a quiet area of the park surrounded by tall trees, so it’s easy to miss this site if you’re not looking for it.
- Pavillion Davioud: This pavillion was built in 1867 and is named after the architect Gabriel Davioud.
- Orangerie: This building was constructed in 1839 and is dedicated to the cultivation of orange trees.
The Jardin du Luxembourg is a public garden and is free for all to visit. You can only sit on the grass in designated areas, but there are lots of benches and chairs. If you want just a quick view of the gardens, you can see most of the main sights in about an hour.
7. Cream Puffs at Odette
Address: 77 Rue Galande, 75005 Paris, France
Cream puffs, or Choux à la Crème in French, are a must-have Parisian dessert. One of the best places to get them is at Odette in the Latin Quarter.
Odette is centrally-located in the Latin Quarter and easy to find. It’s wedged within a narrow cobblestone street with direct views of Notre Dame. The shop is fairly small, and there’s just a few bistro chairs outside its door. (Which just adds to the charm!)
We ordered a box of their signature cream puffs. Even though we were very full, we couldn’t help but try several of the different flavors. Although it was extremely difficult to pick a favorite flavor, the raspberry flavor really topped our list!
8. Musée Curie
Address: 1 Rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris, France
This museum features the life work of Marie Curie and the history of radiology research. The site of the museum was Marie Curie’s laboratory. Marie Curie was the Head of the Physics Laboratory at the Sorbonne, and she was also one of the first female professors within the Faculty of Sciences. The museum is free.
9. Jardin des Plantes
Address: 57 Rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris, France
The Jardin des Plantes is a beautiful garden located in the Latin Quarter. However, it’s so much more than just a garden! There are actually 11 garden and 6 distinct places to visit. There are galleries, museums, greenhouses a zoo, and a merry-go-round. You could easily spend half a day at Jardin des Plantes.
10. Arènes de Lutèce (Arenas of Lutetia)
Address: 49 Rue Monge, 75005 Paris, France
While in the Latin Quarter, you can see remnants of Roman ruins. The Arenas of Lutetia once held up to 15,000 people. Construction for the theater began in the 1st century. Visiting the arenas is free.
11. Église Saint-Séverin (Saint Severin Church)
Address: 2 Rue des Prêtres Saint-Séverin, 75005 Paris, France
As you’re walking through the Latin Quarter, stop by the church of Saint Severin. Construction on the church first began in 1230, which makes it one of the oldest churches in Paris. The church was affiliated with the University of Paris during the 13th century, and the building has survived despite numerous wars and political changes. If you want to see some Gothic architecture, it’s definitely worth a visit!
12. Rue du Chat qui Peche
Another interesting place to visit in the Latin Quarter is the Rue du Chat qui Peche, which is the most narrow street in the entire city of Paris. The street is only 1.80 meters wide (5 feet, 11 inches).
13. Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (Sainte Genevieve Library)
Address: 10 Pl. du Panthéon, 75005 Paris, France
This library was originally an abbey that held the tomb of Saint Genevieve. When you walk through the library, you’ll see lots of iron architectural details, green reading lamps, and lots of books!
14. Musée de la Sculpture En Plein Air (Outdoor Sculpture Museum)
Address: 11 Bis Quai Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris, France
The Outdoor Sculpture Museum contains over 50 sculptures. The museum was established in 1980 in Square Tino Rossi. The Outdoor Sculpture Museum is completely free. If it’s a nice day outside, take a stroll through the museum and admire all the sculptures.
15. Salvador Dali Sundial
Address: 27 Rue Saint-Jacques, 75005 Paris, France
While in the Latin Quarter, you can also see one of Salvador Dali’s pieces. You’ll have to know where to find it, though! The sundial is caste in concrete on the side of a building. The sundial was created in 1966. It doesn’t actually work, but it’s pretty cool to see a piece of Salvador Dali’s work in public!
16. Shakespeare & Company
Address: 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France
One of our favorite places to visit in the Latin Quarter is Shakespeare & Company. This historic bookstore is extremely popular. There’s often a line out the door! In our experience, the line moves pretty quickly. The bookstore has a charming ambiance. If you purchase a book, the shop will add a sticker to it stating that it was purchased at Shakespeare & Company. We think that makes for a pretty cool souvenir!
17. Dine in a Péniche (River Boat)
One unique experience you have to do in the Latin Quarter is have a meal in a péniche (one of the boats along the river). For example, La Nouvelle Seine sits on the water and has direct views of Notre Dame. (Check out their brunch menu!)
18. Square Rene Viviani
Address: 25 Quai de Montebello, 75005 Paris, France
Square Rene Viviani is a public garden located near the Seine River. The square contains the oldest tree in Paris, which was believed to be planted in 1601. Today, the tree is supported by two concrete pillars. The tree is missing some of its upper branches because it was hit by a shell during World War II.
19. La Closerie des Lilas
Address: 171 Bd du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris, France
Looking for a good cafe in the Latin Quarter? Check out La Closerie des Lilas. This was Hemingway’s favorite cafe. He would frequent the cafe and complete much of his writing there. The cafe has also attracted numerous other artists, including Pablo Picasso and Oscar Wilde.
Address: Place Sainte-Geneviève, 75005 Paris, France
Saint-Etienne-du-Mont is a famous church located in the Latin Quarter. The church contains the shrine of Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. One of the things that really stands out about this church is its bell tower, which was added in 1624.
21. Fine Dining at La Tour d’Argent
Paris is known for its fine dining, and La Tour d’Argent is one of the Latin Quarter’s nicest restaurants. The restaurant has large windows that have excellent views of the Seine River and Notre Dame.
22. Institute du Monde Arabe (World Arab Museum)
Address: 1 Rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard, 75005 Paris, France
The Institute du Monde Arabe was created with the help of 18 Arab countries to share Arab culture. The institute contains a museum, library, auditorium, and restaurant. One especially unique aspect of this museum is its architectural design. The southwest wall is made of glass with 240 shutters that adjust to control for the amount of light and heat that enter the building from the sun.
23. Grande Mosquée de Paris
Address: 2bis Pl. du Puits de l’Ermite, 75005 Paris, France
For a small fee, you can enter the Grand Mosque in Paris. The design of the mosque is reminiscent of the Alhambra in Spain. (Which just happens to be one of my favorite places to visit in Spain!)
24. Watch a Cabaret at Paradis Latin
Address: 28 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 75005 Paris, France
Paris is famous for its cabaret shows, and you can catch a show in the Latin Quarter at Paradis Latin. Paradis Latin actually happens to be the oldest cabaret in all of Paris.
25. Eglise Saint-Sulpice
Address: 2 Rue Palatine, 75006 Paris, France
The second-largest church in Paris is the Eglise Saint-Sulpice. The church is filled with murals, paintings, and sculptures. It was also one of the filming locations for the movie The Da Vinci Code. There are free guided tours available, but they only occur on select days of the month.
History of the Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter has a rich history. The Latin Quarter began as a village named Lutetia. Its first settlers were from a Gallic tribe called the Parisii. (The name Paris comes from this original group.) It’s estimated that Lutetia was founded in the 3rd century BC. Lutetia was an important village because it served as a crossing point over the Seine River.
The Romans then conquered the city in the 1st century BC. Characteristic of the Roman style, the romans built a forum, amphitheater, and Roman baths. (Some of these ruins still remain in Paris!)
|See our post: How to Spend One Day in Paris
During the 1800s, Baron Haussmann renovated much of Paris with his signature style noted throughout the city. However, the Latin Quarter did not undergo such renovations, and thus retains much of its medieval charm today.
In 1968, the Latin Quarter was the site of major student protests. Thousands of students filled the streets protesting the closure of Nanterre University. This then led to massive strikes throughout France.
How to Get to the Latin Quarter
If you’re flying into Paris, the main airport is Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (Airport Code CDG).
The Latin Quarter is located on the left bank of the Seine River, which runs through the heart of Paris.
It’s very easy to visit the Latin Quarter, because the district is in central Paris. I’ve found it very easy to walk from the Latin Quarter to other notable sites in Paris, including the Louvre and Notre Dame.
The nearest metro station to the Latin Quarter is the Metro St. Michel stop.
During our last visit, we also took taxis to reach the Latin Quarter. We found it very easy to catch a cab along Quai de Montebello.
Hotel Recommendations for the Latin Quarter
Luxury: Relais Christine
Address: 3 Rue Christine, 75006 Paris, France
Relais Christine has the perfect location in the Latin Quarter. The guest rooms and suites are lavishly decorated. The hotel also has a spa.
To check rates for Relais Christine on Booking.com, click here.
Moderate: Hotel des Grands Hommes
Address: 17 Pl. du Panthéon, 75005 Paris, France
Hotel des Grands Hommes is located right next to the Pantheon. The 3-star hotel features a classic Napoleonic style.
To check rates for Hotel des Grands Hommes on Booking.com, click here.
Budget: Hotel Minerve
Address: 13 Rue des Écoles, 75005 Paris, France
Hotel Minverve contains 54 guest rooms. The rooms are small, but you’ll be able to easily walk around the Latin Quarter when you stay here.
To check rates for Hotel Minerve on Booking.com, click here.
FAQs About the Latin Quarter
How far is the Latin Quarter from the Eiffel Tower?
The Latin Quarter is about 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) from the Eiffel Tower. It takes about an hour to walk between the two locations, and it takes about 10 minutes to drive.
What are some free things to do in the Latin Quarter in Paris?
The Latin Quarter has lots of free activities. You could visit the Outdoor Sculpture Park, the Jardin du Luxembourg, Musee Curie, and the Arenas of Lutetia.
Is the Latin Quarter worth visiting in Paris?
If you’re planning a trip to Paris, you’ll definitely want to spend at least one day in the Latin Quarter. The Latin Quarter is the oldest part of Paris, and it’s filled with gothic churches, Roman ruins, and cobblestone streets.
What is the Latin Quarter famous for?
The Latin Quarter is famous for the Sorbonne, which was the first university in Paris. Scholars from all over the world traveled to Paris to attend the Sorbonne. Today, the Latin Quarter is famous for its massive public gardens, cobblestone streets, gothic churches, cabaret shows, and Roman ruins.
Summary: My Thoughts on the Latin Quarter
I’ve been to Paris several times, and the Latin Quarter remains one of my favorite areas of the city. I love to explore the cobblestone streets and find unique bookshops, cafes, and patisseries. After you’ve been to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre, make sure you spend some time in the Latin Quarter! I also think that the Latin Quarter is a great place to stay due to its central location!
Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please look up such information directly from each vendor or institution for the most current information.