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Latin Quarter Neighborhood

Latin Quarter Neighborhood

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Why you will love it?

The Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin) is a very historical and diverse Paris neighborhood in the heart of the city. Located on what was once the Roman village of Lutetia, the Latin Quarter is filled with historical curiosities, some dating back to the 1st century. It has also historically been the university area, and even today, students gather in the Latin Quarter for a great night out. Enjoy! Parisianist.

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About this place

75 Boulevard Saint Germain, 75005 Paris
Line 10 - Cluny La Sorbonne
Line RER B - Luxembourg

Our Insiders' Article


The Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin) is located in the center east of the left bank, including the 5th and part of the 6th arrondissements or Paris. It is historically the oldest district in Paris, with its heart being La Sorbonne, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in France. Today, Paris’ Latin Quarter is still a student area, not only because of the number of universities and colleges located here, but also because many students come here for shopping, eating or going out.

Parisianist Fun Fact: the Latin Quarter got its name because Latin was the only language used in the universities up until the 17th century.


The Quartier Latin district has 2 main attractions.

- Historical curiosities: because of its 2000 years of existence, the Paris Latin Quarter offers many historical curiosities, such as Roman era ruins, old and narrow streets, or iconic monuments and parks.

- Ambiance: The fact that so many universities are located in the Paris Latin Quarter has drawn a lot of secondary activities (book shops, bars, cafés), giving a very lively ambiance to the district.

Parisianist Tip: check out our Origins of Paris Part 1 and Origins or Paris Part II walking citineraries for an in-depth discovery of the district.


The history of Quartier Latin dates back to the year 52 BC when Romans conquered the area scarcely inhabited by the Gauls, and built the city of Lutetia. The city grew, and thermal baths, arenas and roads were built for the increasing population. The Cardo Maximus (present day Rue Saint Jacques) was the main paved street linking the Seine River to the Forum on top of Sainte Geneviève Hill.

Parisianist Fun Fact: the city changed its name to Paris in the year 310, an abbreviation for Civitas Parisiorum, a latin term refering to the original inhabitants of the area, the Parisii.


The real essence of the Latin Quarter dates back to 1253, when Robert de Sorbon created a theology college (La Sorbonne), which later became a university for science and literature. The Sorbonne is the oldest and one of the most famous universities in Paris. Many other universities (Jussieu), colleges and prestigious schools have since then settled in the area.

Parisianist Tip: Although officially closed to the public, try to ask the guard if you can visit the inner court of La Sorbonne at 17 Rue de la Sorbonne.

Roman Ruins

Because of its history, the Latin Quarter is where you will find the most traces of the Roman city of Lutetia. Two of the highlights are the Lutetia Arenas and the Thermal Baths of Cluny. The Lutetia Arenas (49 rue Monge, free, 9AM - 6PM daily) was a place designed for gladiator combats and naval battles (where the arena would be filled with water). This amphitheater could once seat 15,000 people. The Thermal Baths of Cluny (facing 22 Boulevard Saint Michel) were built in the beginning of the 2nd century and used by the locals for games and baths.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Although the Roman streets still remain where they were 2000 years ago, they have been replaced by more modern roads throughout the centuries (Rue Saint Jacques, Boulevard Saint Michel, Rue Galande, Rue Mouffetard).


The Quartier Latin is filled with interesting monuments such as churches, ancient Christian colleges or buildings. The landmark of the Latin Quarter is the Pantheon. Built in the 18th century by King Louis XV as a church, the Pantheon’s purpose changed from church to pantheon several times during the years before being finalized as a pantheon in 1885 and since serving as the final resting place to those who have made some of the most important contributions to France (people buried here include Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Emile Zola). Also in the area is the modern Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute), built in 1987, combining modern architecture and oriental culture. Not only does it offer a beautiful view of Paris from its rooftop terrace (free / 10AM to 6PM daily), but the Institut du Monde Arabe is also a perfect way to learn more about Arab art via interesting expositions (prices vary with the expositions).


There are 2 major parks located in the Latin Quarter: The Jardin du Luxembourg and the Jardin des Plantes. The Jardin du Luxembourg is a fine combination of French and English gardens with a 250 year old history. The Fontaine de Médicis and the French gardens are two highlights of the park.  The Jardin des Plantes was built in 1635 as royal gardens for the study of plants. It now belongs to the Museum of Natural History, and is still an active research campus. In the Jardin des Plantes sits the “Ménagerie, the 2nd oldest zoo in the world, built in 1793 (11€ / open daily 9AM to 5PM).

Parisianist Fun Fact: During the French civil war in 1871, the animals of the zoo were eaten by the Parisians under siege


Part of the main attraction of the Quartier Latin is simply its lively narrow streets. One of the most popular meeting points in Paris is the Fontaine Saint Michel. From there, the locals head out in all directions to find a place to eat, drink or dance among the countless possibilities offered in the area, from Greek restaurants and Irish live music pubs to dance floors set in 18th century buildings. Be it Rue de la Huchette, Rue Galande, Rue Saint André des Arts or the boulevards along the Seine, all these streets are extremely lively, especially at night.

Parisianist Fun Fact: At 14 Rue de la Huchette, you will see a very narrow passage: Rue du Chat qui Pêche. This is one of the narrowest streets in Paris, with a width of 1.80m.


The two main museums located in the area are the Medieval Museum of Cluny and the Natural History Museum. The fortress-like Medieval Museum of Cluny (6 Place Paul Painlevé / 8€ / 9:15AM – 5:45PM, closed on Tuesday) was built in the 15th century and displays mostly ancient statues and tapestries. The impressive building aside (the basement floor set in old Roman ruins is stunning), the highlight is the beautiful “Dame à la Licorne” tapestry. The Natural History Museum offers different attractions around the Jardin des Plantes: a paleontological gallery, an evolution gallery, greenhouses and a zoo.

Parisianist Fun Fact: For those of you who are passionate about the medical world, the small off the beaten path Musée Dupuytren (15 rue de l’Ecole de Médecine / 5€ / weekdays 2PM-5PM) is a little shop of horrors inside the medical university displaying many kinds of anatomical malformations (real or wax), some even dating back to 1835!

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