|LATIN QUARTER - ST GERMAIN DES PRES - LEFT BANK PARIS
Since the Middle Age the left bank quarter in Paris has been dominated by the Sorbonne, and acquired its name from the early latin-speaking students. It dates back to the Roman town across the Ile de la Cité. In 1215 the Pope approved the establishment of a university on the left bank of the Seine in Paris. Students and teachers alike settled in the area and since Latin was the official language of education at that time, the area came to be called the Latin Quarter.
The area is generally associated with artists, intellectual and a bohemian way of life; this is mainly due to the thousands of students living around.
But the left bank also has a history of political unrest : In 1871, the Place Saint Michel became the center of the Paris Commune, and in may 1968, it was a site of student uprising.
The left bank contains many of the Paris monuments, museums and gardens, ranging from the brand-new Institut du Monde Arabe to the Middle Age Musée de Cluny, or the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in the Jardin des Plantes.
After WWII, St Germain des Pres became the nest for existentialist thinking, avant-garde theater, painting and jazz. Picasso, Sartre, De Beauvoir, Beckett are some of the famous names associated with the area.
Walking the the Latin Quarter
Begin at Place St-Michel with your back to the Seine. Look at the street du Chat-qui-Peche, which is said to be the narrowest and shortest street in the world.
Walk back towards St-Michel and turn in the street de la Harpe that takes to rue St-Severin. Walk to your left to view St-Severin, a Gothic church built in 1210 and reconstructed in 1458.
Take rue St-Severin to rue Galande until you reach St-Julien-le-Pauvre on the south side of square Rene-Viviani.
Turn rue St-Severin, turn to the street St-Jacques, and turn right to boulevard St-Germain. Turn onto rue de Cluny and aapears the entrance to the Musee de Cluny. This museum houses the remains of the Roman baths and The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestry.
Exit to boulevard Saint-Michel, and turn towards place de la Sorbonne. It is here that you will find the Sorbonne, one of the most famous academic institutions in the world. Discover here the Eglise de la Sorbonne, a church built in 1635 by Le Mercier.
Walk south on street Victor-Cousin upon leaving the church and turn onto rue Soufflot. The Pantheon is located at the end of the street and is the final resting place of Curie, Hugo, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Zola.
From the Hotel Napoleon
Metro line 1 to Chatelet and line 4 to Odeon or Saint Germain des Prés
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