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Saint Germain

Secrets of Saint-Germain Walking Tour

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Why you will love it?

During the medieval times, Saint Germain des Prés was a large fortified abbey on the outskirts of Paris, both of them linked by small streets. Today, Saint Germain district is a bustling district in the middle of Paris, but behind the lively bars and shops of the area, the traces of its exciting history are still visible… Come explore the ancient and modern Saint Germain. Enjoy! Parisianist.

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About this place

13 Rue de Médicis, 75006 Paris
Line 10 - Cluny La Sorbonne
Line B - Luxembourg

Our Insiders' Article

Jardin du Luxembourg

When exiting the RER B station Luxembourg, you will find yourself at one of the main entrances to the Jardin du Luxembourg. Before entering the park, we suggest taking a look at the beautiful pictures that are displayed outside the park’s gates, along Rue de Médicis. The photo exhibitions change from time to time and illustrate different themes, but the common points of every exhibition are the beauty of the pictures and the emotions they trigger when looking at them.

Jardin du Luxembourg

At the corner of Rue de Médicis and Rue de Vaugirard is the northeastern entrance to the Jardin du Luxembourg. This private garden is a fine combination of French and English gardens with a 250 year old history. The Fontaine de Médicis (50m straight from the entrance, on your left), the park’s highlight, is a fountain dismantled and rebuilt stone by stone in its current location by popular demand in the  19th century. The sight of the Palais du Luxembourg, formerly a royal palace and now home to the Senate, can’t be missed. Walk alongside the palace and orangery to reach the northern exit (next to the Luxembourg Museum).

Parisianist Tip: Feel free to walk around and discover the Jardin du Luxembourg, dedicated by Napoleon to “the children of Paris.” It comprises numerous statues, kids’ activities and spots to read or play a round of Pétanque (a favourite French game similar to Bocce).


When exiting the park, turn right to arrive at the entrance to the Musée du Luxembourg: one of the leading exhibition spaces in Paris, having hosted masterpieces of Botticelli, Raphaël, Matisse and more. The museum is open daily from 10AM to 7:30PM and the entrance fee depends on exhibition. Take the second street to the left (Rue Servandoni). This street existed in 1424, and is a perfect area to witness 17th and 18th century buildings, especially at 14 Rue Servandoni, with an impressive front door. Turn left on Rue du Canivet, and left again on Rue Férou, both 16th century streets.

Parisianist Fun Fact: The right hand wall on Rue Férou is decorated with Arthur Rimbaud’s poem “Bateau Ivre”. The famous French poet wrote the poem in 1871 when he was only 16 years old.

Promenade de l'Allée

At the end of Rue Férou, in front of the Musée du Luxembourg, turn right. Take the small flight of stairs on your right 50m ahead, and you will find yourself in Allée du Séminaire, a green walkway. Look behind you before continuing:  there is a beautiful building at the corner of the Jardin du Luxembourg. When walking down the walkway, you will stumble across a fountain from 1807, one of the 15 fountains built by Napoleon to bring drinkable water to the Parisians at that time.

Saint Sulpice

Allée du Séminaire leads to Saint Sulpice Square and church, the largest church in Paris. Its origins go back to the 10th century, but the main constructions occurred in the 17th century. Take a look at the facade: the left tower was finished in 1781, but the right tower was never finished and remains hollow to this day. One of the highlights inside the church is French artist Delacroix’s painting at the entrance on the right.

Parisianist Fun Fact: this is where famous author Victor Hugo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) got married in 1822. And for the Da Vinci Code fans, this is one of the key churches sited in the book.

Rue des Canettes

When exiting Saint Sulpice church, take a right and cross the road to enter Rue des Canettes. A lot of bars, restaurants and shops are located in this narrow street, making it a very popular spot among locals. The street existed in the 13th century, but went by another name.  

Parisianist Fun Fact: Go to 18 Rue des Canettes and look above the door. You will see a carving of ducklings on the surface of water. This is how the street got its name in 1636, “canettes” meaning ducklings in French. Take the first street to your right, Rue Guisarde, and walk up. Here as well, many restaurants and bars make it very lively in the evening.

Marché Saint Germain

At the end of Rue Guisarde, you will be facing the Marché de Saint Germain, a modern shopping gallery where you will find a variety of outlets, perfect for some window shopping. If you turn left, you will notice that there is a lower level alongside the buildings (6 & 8 Rue Mabillon). This used to be the street level in the 12th century, where annual festivities where held, such as the Saint Germain fair, a 3 week religious ceremony.

Parisianist Fun Fact: At that time, the city of Paris was very small. Saint Germain was in fact a small village in the outskirts of Paris. Go all the way to the start of Rue Mabillon and turn right in Rue du Four. On the left, at 1 Rue du Four, you will find the smallest shop in Paris, selling macaroons and cupcakes.

Saint Germain Des Prés

Turn left on Boulevard Saint Germain, a busy street and one of the main boulevards in Paris. A bit further to the right, you will see Saint-Germain-des-Prés church, one of the oldest religious monuments in Paris. This former abbey was built in 558 by King Childebert I, but invasions, fires and regime changes lead to major transformations. At the entrance, immediately on the right is the Saint Symphorien Chapel, where some wall stones are 1500 years old! There used to be 3 bell towers, but because this holy place served as a saltpeter warehouse during the revolution which severely damaged the walls, 2 towers had to be brought down.

Parisianist Fun Fact: The front south side of the church looks as if it has been cut straight though. It was indeed the case in the 19th century during the remodeling of Paris. Take a close look: the wide opening is now clearly walled in.

Café des Deux Magots

Cross Rue Bonaparte and opposite the church, you will see the Café Les Deux Magots. Originally a silk fabric shop (little ceramic human statues called “magots” would evoke the origin of the fabric, 2 of them - Chinese wisemen – still visible today, hence the name), the place turned into a café in 1884. It was the meeting point for many artists in Paris such as Verlaine, Rimbaud, Sartre but also Hemingway and Picasso.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Finding the Prix Goncourt, a prestigious literary prize, too academic, surrealists spending time in the Deux Magots created their own prize: the Deux Magots prize. Only a few steps further down Boulevard Saint Germain is the Café Flore, also a café where many artists spent time in. Both cafés are perfect for a stylish coffee break.

Place Furstemberg

Take Rue de l’Abbaye alongside the northern side of the church, and take the first street on the left: Rue de Furstemberg. Because it is so quiet and so charming, today’s real estate prices have soared, making the square of Rue de Furstemberg one of the most expensive areas in Paris (20,000€ / m²). Enter number 6 and in the central courtyard, you will find the Delacroix museum (5€ / 9:30AM to 5PM, closed on Tuesday).Eugène Delacroix was a 19th century French painter, most famous for his “Liberty guiding the people” exposed at the Louvre. In the Delacroix museum, you will see paintings and objects having belonged to the painter.

Parisianist Fun Fact: If you decide to visit this small museum, you will also be able to access the quiet private garden, perfect for a 15 minute break.


Take the first street (Rue Cardinale) on your right after the square. This used to be one of the streets of Saint-Germain-des-Près Abbey. Prior to the 18th century, the fortified abbey was outside of the Parisian walls. With quite a lot of land, the abbey resembled more a small fortified village. Take a left at the first intersection (Rue de l’Abbaye) and immediately turn left in Rue de l’Echaudé. Take a look at the corner of this 14th century street. In the old days, the corners of buildings were carved out to give more turning space to stagecoaches. Walk down among some 17th and 18th century houses and turn right on Rue Jacob and right again on Rue de Seine.

Parisianist Tip: Don’t forget to look up! 57 Rue de Seine is a good example of a beautiful more modern building, where French 19th century poet Charles Baudelaire once lived.   

Rue de Buci

Walk up Rue de Seine and take the first street to the left (Rue de Buci). Built in the 13th century, it was also known as the Rue du Pilori (Pillory Street) because the punishment and public humiliation devise was placed here in the Middle Ages. Today, this lively street offers many bars and shops, including the delicious Amorino ice-cream store or the popular café “Les Etages”. Take the first street to the right (Rue Grégoire de Tours), known as Butcher Street in the 13th century, as this profession was highly represented here.

Parisianist Fun Fact: At the end of the Rue Grégoire de Tours, on the opposite side of Boulevard Saint Germain, lays a beautiful building built in 1879 by Charles Garnier, who created the Opera Garnier.


Go left in the Boulevard Saint Germain. A few meters ahead lays the Place Henri Mondor, commonly referred to as Odéon by locals because of the metro station’s name. Standing in the middle of this square is the imposing statue of Danton, one of the leading politicians during the French Revolution in 1790, guillotined at the age of 34. His quote “After bread, education is the peoples’ essential need” is carved at the base of the statue.

Parisianist Fun Fact: the statue, created in 1891, is located exactly where the Danton’s living room was a hundred years earlier.

Le Procope

Opposite Danton’s statue is the entrance to a walkway called the Cour du Commerce Saint André. It was built in 1776 to replace the 13th century protective wall surrounding Paris. Although some parts of this wall are still visible in the walkway, that is not the only element that makes this walkway a sight to see. It is also an entry point to Paris’ oldest restaurant, Le Procope, opened in 1684.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Many famous people have eaten at the Procope, including French Revolution leader Robespierre, or American inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin.

Rue des Grands Augustins

After the Cour du Commerce Saint André, turn right and immediately turn left in Rue André Mazet. Notice the elevated little statue at the street corner: Saint André. At the end, take a right in Rue Dauphine. This street, built in 1607, was the first straight road in Paris, as well as the first road to have street lamps in 1763. Take the first street to the right (Rue Christine), also built in the 17th century. Turn left in the Rue des Grands Augustins, but before turning right in the Rue de Savoie, walk a little further towards the Seine River. 8 Rue des Grands Augustins was where young King Louis XIII was crowned king one hour after the assassination of his father King Henri IV. On the opposite side of the street, at 7 Rue des Grands Augustins, is where Picasso lived between 1936 and 1955 and painted the world famous “Guernica.” 

Saint André des Arts

Walk to the end of Rue de Savoie and turn right on Rue Séguier. Another 14th century street, this is where Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” takes place, although the writer never set a foot in Paris. At the end, turn left in the Rue Saint André des Arts, another very lively and busy street today. It used to be the road linking the Parisian church Saint André des Arts (demolished in 1807) to the Saint Germain des Prés abbey.

Parisianist Tip: One of the specialties found in this part of Rue Saint André des Arts is pancakes (crêpes). It’s a perfect snack while you’re on the go!  

Saint Michel

Walk to the end of the Rue Saint André des Arts. Turn left and you will find yourself on a wide square: Place Saint Michel. The square was built in 1855 when Haussmann restructured Paris following Napoleon III’s orders. Its iconic monument is the fountain, a popular meeting place for Parisian students before heading out to the surrounding restaurants and bars. The fountain was created in 1860 by architect Gabriel Davioud. The subway and RER stations Saint Michel are under the square.

Parisianist Fun Fact: The fountain was originally meant to have a statue of Napoleon, but plans must have changed as you can see that the statue is of Saint Michel about to slay a dragon.

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