Saint-Germain-des-Prés is one of the four administrative quarters of the 6th arrondissement of Paris, France, located around the church of the former Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. St-Germain-des-Prés, the 6th Arrondissement of Paris, is best known for the literary and artistic celebrities who lived and worked here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was the meeting point for existentialists, painters, and writers. Today the heart and soul of the 6th arrondissement, St-Germain-des-Prés is one of Paris’ most charming neighborhoods, just bursting with fine food shops, restaurants, markets and picturesque streets lined with cafés.
Known as the true center of Paris, Saint-Germain-des-Prés is one of the most literary and best shopping areas in the city. It’s a real delight to living here, right next to the garden with its stone fountains, its budding idylls, its ornate busts and statues. If you stay in St-Germain everything is at your doorstep, cafes, brasseries, bars, and restaurants flourish. You also find art galleries, antique stores, theaters and cinemas, street markets, Jardin du Luxembourg, clothing retailers, and the upscale department store, Le Bon Marché.
Once a small market village centered around the historic abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, formerly a powerful ecclesiastical complex in the Middle Ages, it is now the oldest church in Paris. Its Romanesque bell tower is one of the characteristic landmarks of the neighborhood. Around the picturesque place Furstemberg, which was part of the famous monastery of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, along narrow streets which shelter sumptuous bourgeois houses adorned with arcades.
With its cityscape, intellectual tradition, history, architecture, and central location, the arrondissement has long been home to French intelligentsia. The Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of the most romantic and appealing areas of Paris, It is home to the École des Beaux-Arts, a school of fine arts, the Saints-Pères biomedical university center of the University of Paris, the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, and the Musée national Eugène Delacroix, in the former apartment and studio of painter Eugène Delacroix.
For many years now the Saint-Germain-des-Prés has been home to artists, writers, designers, intellectuals and the chicest of the chic. This central arrondissement has played a major role throughout Paris history and is well known for its café culture and the revolutionary intellectualism (existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir) and literature (Paul Éluard, Boris Vian, Albert Camus, Françoise Sagan) it has hosted. It is a major locale for art galleries and fashion stores.
Some of the best shopping streets in Paris just few steps away, lined with a wonderful mix of museums, antiques shops and chic fashion boutiques. Well-known coffee shops are scattered all over the area, so much so that there is a music album of the same name dedicated to promoting coffee culture. The quarter’s cafés include Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore, le Procope, and the Brasserie Lipp, as well as many bookstores and publishing houses.
The area gets its name from the Abbey of Saint-Germain, whose Romanesque church, rebuilt after the French Revolution – remains at the very same location chosen in the 5th century by the Merovingian King Childebert I, son of Clovis. The stage for many a key moment in history, it was destroyed a first time during the Norman invasion at the end of the 9th century, then fortified in the 16th, because it was still located outside of Paris. Flourishing in the 18th century, the Abbey was dissolved during the French Revolution, and its monastic buildings turned into warehouses and jails. In 1794, a fire destroyed the Library. The building’s annexes were sold and its land gave way to apartment buildings. The area as it is nowadays was beginning to take shape. Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church, restored during the 19th and 20th centuries, remains the neighbourhood’s emblematic feature.
In 1673 the theatrical troupe in the city, the Comédie-Française, was expelled from its building on rue Saint‑Honoré and moved to the left bank, to the passage de Pont-Neuf (the present-day rue Jacques‑Callot), just outside the Saint‑Germain quarter. In 1797 they moved back to the Left Bank, to the modern Odéon Theatre.
The first café in Paris appeared in 1672 at the Saint-Germain Fair, served by an Armenian named Pascal. When the fair ended he opened a more permanent establishment on the quai de l’Ecole, where he served coffee for two sous and six deniers per cup. It was considered more of a form of medication than a beverage to be enjoyed, and it had a limited clientele.
By 1723 there were more than three hundred eighty cafés in the city. The Café Procope particularly attracted the literary community of Paris, because many book publishers, editors and printers lived in the quarter. The writers Diderot and d’Alembert are said to have planned their massive philosophical work, the Encyclopédie, at Procope, and at another popular literary meeting place, the Café Landelle on the rue de Buci.
A significant event in American history took place on 3 September 1783 at the Hotel York at 56 rue Jacob; the signing of the Treaty of Paris between Britain and the United States, which ended the American Revolution and granted the U.S. its independence. The signing followed the American victory at the Siege of Yorktown, won with assistance of the French fleet and French army. The American delegation included Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Jay. After the signing, they remained for a commemorative painting by the American artist Benjamin West, but the British delegates refused to pose for the painting, so the painting was never finished.
At the site which is today the Louis-le-Grand high school, the oldest and largest European medieval university once stood, the central hub of all the Parisian colleges on the Left Bank. The Université de Paris educated the greatest minds. Thomas Aquinas, François Villon, Joaquim Du Bellay and Pierre de Ronsart are just some of its most well-known students. During the Enlightenment, Encyclopaedists debated in the Procope, still located 13, rue de l’Ancienne Comédie.
To follow in the footsteps of Danton, Marat, Desmoulins or Guillotin, go to Cour du Commerce Saint-André. At number 9, you’ll find the workshop where the guillotine was developed and tested for the very first time. Number 8 was one of the printing houses of L’Ami du Peuple (The People’s Friend), the most influential political newspaper of the French Revolution, which was edited and published by Marat. Danton’s house, located at number 20, which was destroyed during the roadworks to extend Boulevard Saint-Germain in 1875, was found at the exact location of the Henri Mondor statue.
Racine, Balzac, George Sand, Musset, Verlaine, Rimbaud and Anatole France – writers, poets and playwrights were staunch patrons of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés cafés. Painters like Delacroix, Ingres and Manet moved there. The area became a special meeting place for the arts scene.
The vast public works projects of Napoleon III and his Prefect of the Seine, Georges-Eugène Haussmann in the 1860s dramatically changed the map of the quarter. To reduce the congestion of the narrow maze of streets on the Left Bank, Haussmann had intended to turn the rue des Ecoles into a major boulevard, but the slope was too steep, and he decided instead to construct boulevard Saint‑Germain through the heart of the neighborhood. It was not completed until 1889. He also began a wide south to north axis from the Montparnasse railroad station to the Seine. which became the rue de Rennes. The rue de Rennes was only completed as far as the parvis in the front of the Church of Saint‑Germain‑des‑Prés by the end of the Second Empire in 1871, and stopped there, sparing the maze of narrow streets between boulevard Saint‑Germain and the river.
To get a feel for the spirit of the time, drop into the Eugène Delacroix museum, 6 rue de Fürstenberg. Set in the artist’s vast workshop with a view of the picture-perfect garden, it is attached to an apartment located on the second floor where the painter moved to be closer to Saint-Sulpice church and Saint-Anges chapel, sites he had been commissioned to paint. Conserved and restored to their original state, these locations offer a living testimony of the mid-19th-century French art de vivre.
Further north, on the banks of the River Seine, stop by the Institute de France, which was built by Mazarin to house a college. It was closed during the French Revolution, then reopened in 1806 by Napoleon to group together the five Academies (Académie Française, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Académie des Sciences, Académie des Beaux Arts and Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques) under its prestigious dome. Opposite its entrance, the elegant Pont des Arts bridge spans the River Seine to the right bank.
The quarter was also the temporary home of many musicians, artists and writers from abroad, including Richard Wagner who lived for several months on rue Jacob. The writer Oscar Wilde spent his last days in the quarter, at the small, run-down hotel called the Hotel d’Alsace at 13 rue des Beaux‑Arts, near the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. The small hotel where Wilde died became famous; later guests included Marlon Brando and Jorge Luis Borges. It was completely redecorated by Jacques Garcia, and is now a five-star luxury hotel called L’Hotel.
From the beginning of the 20th century, this area became the refuge and space of freedom for the international art scene. In the first half of the 20th century, Saint‑Germain‑des‑Prés and nearly the whole of the 6th arrondissement, was a densely populated working‑class neighborhood. As a residential address Saint‑Germain is no longer quite as fashionable as the area further south towards the Jardin du Luxembourg, partly due to Saint‑Germain’s increased popularity among tourists.
After the Second World War, the neighbourhood became the centre of intellectuals and philosophers, actors, singers and musicians. Existentialism co-existed with jazz and chanson in the cellars on the rue de Rennes. Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Juliette Gréco, Léo Ferré, Jean-Luc Godard, Boris Vian, and François Truffaut were all at home there. But there were also poets such as Jacques Prévert and artists such as Giovanni Giacometti.
During WWII, in spite of the imposed curfew, Saint-Germain-des-Prés cafés remained open. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir made Café de Flore their hideout. Sartre (1905-1980) was the most prominent figure of the period; he was a philosopher, the founder of the school of existentialism, but also a novelist, playwright, and theater director. Simone de Beauvoir (1902-1986), the lifelong companion of Sartre, was another important literary figure, both as an early proponent of feminism and as an autobiographer and novelist.
Dimly lit by acetylene lamps, the café became the workplace of future major authors. Sartre wrote The Roads to Freedom there, most of Being and Nothingness and his play The Flies which was controversial during the Liberation, while Simone de Beauvoir wrote All Men Are Mortal at its tables. In the years after World War II, Saint‑Germain‑des‑Prés was known primarily for its cafés and its bars, its diversity and its non-conformism.
Immediately after the War, Saint‑Germain‑des‑Prés and the nearby Saint-Michel neighbourhood became home to many small jazz clubs, mostly located in cellars, due to the shortage of any suitable space, and because the music at late hours was less likely to disturb the neighbors. The first to open in 1945 was the Caveau des Lorientais, near boulevard Saint‑Michel, which introduced Parisians to New Orleans Jazz, played by clarinetist Claude Luter and his band. It closed shortly afterwards, but was soon followed by cellars in or near Saint‑Germain‑des‑Prés; Le Vieux-Columbier, the Rose Rouge, the Club Saint-Germain; and especially, Le Tabou. The musical styles were both traditional New Orleans jazz and bebop, led by Sydney Bechet and trumpeter Boris Vian; Mezz Mezzrow, André Rewellotty, guitarist Henri Salvador, and singer Juliette Gréco.
The clubs attracted students from the nearby university, the Paris intellectual community, and celebrities from the Paris cultural world. They soon had doormen who controlled who was important or famous enough to be allowed inside into the cramped, smoke-filled cellars. A few of the musicians went on to celebrated careers; Sidney Bechet was the star of the first jazz festival held at the Salle Pleyel in 1949, and headlined at the Olympia music hall in 1955. The musicians were soon divided between those who played traditional New Orleans jazz, and those who wanted more modern varieties. Most of the clubs closed by the early 1960s, as musical tastes shifted toward rock and roll.
The literary life of Paris after World War II was centered in Saint‑Germain‑des‑Prés, both because of the atmosphere of non-conformism and because of the large concentration of book stores and publishing houses. Because most writers lived in tiny rooms or apartments, they gathered in cafés, most famously the Café de Flore, the Brasserie Lipp and Les Deux Magots.
The Left Bank is synonymous with intellectuals, beautiful boutiques and historic monuments. The boulevards, the pretty perspectives and the charming alleys of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Pari concentrate treasures of Parisian heritage. Priceless heritage, emblematic garden, intimate museums, good restaurants and craft shops, the Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Pari attracts lovers of a Parisian way of life.
For centuries, the vibrant and arty Saint-Germain-des-Prés district has been attracting visitors from all over the world. This village-like district with its mix of culture and heritage, right in the centre of Paris, is well worth discovering. Set out to explore this district which has a village feel, and a mix of culture and heritage, right in the heart of Paris.
Among which one can admire the Saint-Germain-des-Prés square and its church with Romanesque architecture, the Saint Sulpice church decorated with paintings by ‘Eugène Delacroix and the Odéon Théâtre de l’Europe recognizable by its colonnaded façade. Between designer boutiques, gourmet addresses and bookstores, neighborhood businesses are an integral part of life in the borough, Some shops have been established there for several centuries.
Since the 1950s, the Saint-Germain-des-Prés, with its many higher education institutions, cafés (Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots, La Palette etc.) and publishing houses (Gallimard, Julliard, Grasset etc.) has been the home of much of the major post-war intellectual and literary movements and some of most influential in history such as surrealism, existentialism and modern feminism.
Writers looking for inspiration and lovers of fine literature can linger at the Café de Flore, the Closerie des Lilas or the Deux Magots, mythical literary cafés in the 6th arrondissement where Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Guillaume Apollinaire, Pablo Picasso…
Boulevard Saint-Germain is a boulevard on the left bank of Paris, 3,150 meters long and about 30 meters wide, the Boulevard Saint-Germain starts from the Seine at the corner of the Quai Saint-Bernard and facing the Île Saint-Louis, in the 5th arrondissement, runs along the river a few hundred meters at the foot of the Sainte -Geneviève mountain, then crosses the 6th arrondissement and rejoins the Seine again at the level of the Quai d’Orsay, in the 7th arrondissement. It is the main thoroughfare in the Latin Quarter, with Boulevard Saint-Michel 1 and duFaubourg Saint-Germain.
It is one of the projects designed personally by Baron Haussmann during the transformation works of Paris under the Second Empire. It complemented the boulevards on the right bank on the left bank and facilitated east-west access to the central districts on the left bank. The boulevard has long housed publishing houses and bookshops, for example medical publishing near the Faculty of Medicine. Over the years, they tend to be replaced by fashion stores and restaurants.
Not far from the church, on the Place and Boulevard Saint-Germain, Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore were regular meeting spots for the Paris literary and artistic world of the 20th century. Writers, painters, sculptors, musicians… all came here to work, converse, and find warmth and inspiration. You might have come across Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Boris Vian, Guillaume Apollinaire, Albert Camus and even Pablo Picasso.
The Brasserie Lipp (now a listed monument) decorated with superb mosaics and wall paintings, was also frequented by great literary and political figures of the time. These three places subsequently launched their own literary prize in honour of their famous customers. Although they have many things in common, what distinguishes them are their unique facades and decor.
Rue de Furstemberg
The street has a picturesque square in the middle, the subject of numerous illustrations and photographs. The way was opened around 1699 on the grounds of the enclosure of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés abbey, in the perspective of the abbey palace, Furstemberg wishing access to the palace independent of that of the abbey. The buildings at nos. 6-8 have a facade of recent bricks and stones made in the 1990s inspired by facade design, in order to allow better integration into the site. Several artists had their studio there.
The delightful square Place de Fürstenberg, formerly a small courtyard of the old abbey, it is now considered one of the most charming squares in Paris. In its centre, a single lamppost with 5 lights is framed by four magnificent paulownia trees and surrounded by fine buildings.
These were once used as outbuildings and today house the Musée Eugène Delacroix. This unique museum, installed in the artist’s former apartments and studio, offers an insight into the Romantic painter through his pictorial works but also through more intimate items such as photographs and letters.
Church of Saint-Sulpice
The Church of Saint-Sulpice is a Roman Catholic church in Paris, France, on the east side of Place Saint-Sulpice, in the Latin Quarter of the 6th arrondissement. It is only slightly smaller than Notre-Dame and thus the second-largest church in the city. It is dedicated to Sulpitius the Pious. Construction of the present building, the second church on the site, began in 1646. During the 18th century, an elaborate gnomon, the Gnomon of Saint-Sulpice, was constructed in the church. The church is the subject of a classification as historical monuments since theMay 20, 1915. Due to the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris on April 15, 2019, the church acts as a diocesan cathedral for major ceremonies.
The church of Saint-Sulpice, oriented in the usual west-east direction, is an imposing building 120 meters long, 57 meters wide, 30 meters high under the central vault; it is the second largest church in Paris after Notre-Dame. The plan and the initial architectural principles of Saint-Sulpice are in fact inspired by certain buildings established by the Jesuits, the design of which was intended to be adapted to the Catholic liturgy reformed by the Council of Trent: “a Latin cross church, with a single nave, confined to communicating chapels and a slightly projecting transept, barrel-vaulted, high windows, cupola at the crossroads, facade with two superimposed orders of unequal width crowned with a pediment”.
Cloaked in mystery, the church featured as a key part of the plot of Dan Brown’s famous book and film “The Da Vinci Code”. It is true that it houses a gnomon, an astronomical measuring tool, due to a play of light between a lens and the obelisk, and which makes it possible to calculate the dates of the solstices and equinoxes. Even though far removed from fanciful legends, this instrument installed here in 1727 is still fascinating today.
The Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Prés
The Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is a former Benedictine abbey in Paris. This abbey, dating from 543, is the oldest in Paris and has witnessed many events in the city’s history such as its capture by the Vikings, during which it was burnt down. Long before Saint-Denis, the place served as a royal necropolis during the Merovingian period. In the 19th century, the building became a church, and was renovated by architects Godde and Baltard. It is to Baltard that it owes the magnificent frescoes and paintings.
Founded in the middle of the 6th century under the name of Sainte-Croix et Saint-Vincent basilica by the Merovingian king Childebert I and Saint Germain, bishop of Paris. This basilica has marble columns, a paneled ceiling and glazed windows. The church was rebuilt by Abbé Morard, from the end of the 10th century. The first four levels of the western bell tower, the nave and the transept of the current church date back to this period, in which one can see in particular interesting capitals from around the year one thousand. It is one of the first Gothic buildings, which contributes to the diffusion of this new style and is of great importance from an archaeological point of view.
The Paris Mint
Monnaie de Paris is the national monetary institution of France. Public establishment of an industrial and commercial nature since 2007, it exercises in particular the sovereign mission of manufacturing the French national currency. Created onJune 25, 864under the reign of Charles II by the Edict of Pîtres, it is one of the oldest companies in the world and the oldest French institution still in operation.
A Neoclassical edifice, the Hôtel de la Monnaie was designed by Jacques-Denis Antoine and built from 1767-1775 on the Left Bank of the Seine. The Monnaie was the first major civic monument undertaken by Antoine, yet shows a high level of ingenuity on the part of the architect. Today it is considered a key example of French Neoclassicism in pre-Revolutionary Paris. The building is typified by its heavy external rustication and severe decorative treatment. It boasts one of the longest façades on the Seine; its appearance has been likened to the Italian palazzo tradition.
The building, which housed mint workshops, administrative rooms, and residential quarters, wraps around a large interior courtyard. It remains open to the public and includes a numismatics museum, located within what was once the main foundry. The entire site was renovated in 2017 and the museum reveals all the secrets of coin making, from the melting of materials (gold, silver, bronze, etc.) to the way in which coins are engraved and struck.
The Institut de France
The Institut de France is a French learned society, grouping five académies, including the Académie Française. It was established in 1795 at the direction of the National Convention. This institution, which plays the role of ‘Protector of Arts, Literature and Science’, the best known is certainly the Académie Française (French Academy), founded in 1635. Its dome is visible from many parts of the capital. Its museums and châteaux open for visit.
The Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts
The Beaux-Arts de Paris is a French grande école whose primary mission is to provide high-level arts education and training. This is classical and historical School of Fine Arts in France. The art school, which is part of the Paris Sciences et Lettres University, is located on two sites: Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, and Saint-Ouen. These fine arts were four in number: painting, sculpture, engraving, with architecture until 1968, when the Minister of Culture André Malraux, created eight teaching units of architecture (UPA).
The Parisian institution is made up of a complex of buildings located at 14 rue Bonaparte, between the quai Malaquais and the rue Bonaparte. This is in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, just across the Seine from the Louvre museum. The school was founded in 1648 by Charles Le Brun as the famed French academy Académie de peinture et de sculpture. Its facade is decorated with frescoes and busts. This school of the Fine Arts is recognized worldwide for the quality of its teaching and the creativity of its students. Although the school is spread over several buildings on a two-hectare site, the highlights are the Cour d’honneur, the Chapelle des Petits Augustins and the Cour du Mûrier and the Palais des Études.
The Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe is one of France’s six national theatres. It is located at 2 rue Corneille in the 6th arrondissement of Paris on the left bank of the Seine, next to the Luxembourg Garden and the Luxembourg Palace, which houses the Senate. Architecturally, it is an Italian-style theater (cubic-shaped stage and semi-circular room) and the exterior is neoclassical in style. It has been classified as a historical monument since October 7, 1947.
National Museum of Eugene Delacroix
The Musée national Eugène Delacroix, also known as the Musée Delacroix, is an art museum dedicated to painter Eugène Delacroix. At this dedicated museum you can explore the great French painter’s life, his artwork, and his studio. On display are many of Delacroix’s early works including small oil paintings, pastels, and sketches. Delacroix (1798 – 1863) is regarded as the leader of the French Romantic movement in art. He took his inspiration from Rubens and Venetian Renaissance painters who focused on bold colors, sensuality, and a sense of movement in their works. His most famous painting, “Liberty Leading the People”, which hangs in the Louvre-Lens museum in northern France.
The museum is located in painter Eugène Delacroix’s last apartmen. In 1952, the Société acquired the apartment, studio, and garden, and in 1954 donated the property to the French government. In 1971, the site became a national museum, and in 1999 its garden was renovated. Léon Printemps had his studio in this same building, where he died on 9 July 1945. Since 2004 the museum has been managed by the Louvre. Today the museum contains Delacroix’s memorabilia and works, exhibiting pictures from nearly every phase of his career, including the artist’s only three attempts at fresco from Valmont (1834); the Education of the Virgin painted in Nohant in 1842; and Magdalene in the Desert exhibited at the 1845 Salon.
The Musée Zadkine is a museum dedicated to the work of Russian sculptor Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967), a Russian painter and sculptor who lived and worked here from 1928 until his death. His works are displayed where he created them. With glass roofs and a garden, the museum is a haven of peace and tranquility in the hubbub that is Paris.
The museum was established by Valentine Prax, Zadkine’s wife, who willed their home and studio since 1928, as well as his personal collection, to the City of Paris. The museum was inaugurated in 1982 following her death, and has subsequently augmented its collection through purchases. It now contains about 300 sculptures, as well as drawings, photographs, and tapestries. Since 1995 the museum has also presented 3 to 4 exhibits of contemporary art each year.
The Musée de Minéralogie is a museum of mineralogy operated by the École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris (Mines ParisTech). Today the museum is stated to be one of the ten largest mineral collections in the world, containing some 100,000 samples including 80,000 minerals, 15,000 rocks, 4,000 ores, 400 meteorites, 700 gems, and 300 artificial crystals.
St. Germain Market
The Saint-Germain market is a former covered market located in Paris in the Odéon district. In 1970, the City of Paris envisaged the demolition of the market and the construction of a large property complex. This included a supermarket, a garage with a service station, several public facilities (including a crèche, a home for unsuitable children, a sports center with swimming pool, a club for the elderly, etc.). Housing and offices were also planned, out of a total of 12,000 m 2 for a footprint of 3,900 m2. Of Blondel’s building, only the exterior arcades were preserved and the building was surmounted by a 3-storey glass and metal superstructure.
In 2017, the market is reopened to the public. Four international brands have settled there: Apple in 1,300 m2, Nespresso in 500 m2, Uniqlo in 800 m2 and Mark & Spencer Food in 1,000 m2. Two other smaller shops devoted to top-of-the-range food (a butcher’s shop and a restaurant).
The Pont des Arts
The Pont des Arts or Passerelle des Arts is a pedestrian bridge in Paris which crosses the River Seine. It links the Institut de France and the central square (cour carrée) of the Palais du Louvre, (which had been termed the “Palais des Arts” under the First French Empire). This beautiful cast iron footbridge, captured and immortalized by many photographers and filmmakers, spans the Seine making it possible to cross to the Louvre Museum on the other side.
Since its construction in 1800, the Pont des Arts has been a place to go to. In summer, it is a popular meeting point for a waterside picnic and attracts painters, musicians and people wanting to relax in a laid-back friendly atmosphere. The Pont des Arts is also known as a bridge for lovers. Couples used to leave a lock attached to the railings as a symbol of their love. This practice threatened the structure of the bridge and had to be banned in 2015.
La Grande Epicerie de Paris, found just across the street from Le Bon Marché, is the place offer Paris food, fleur du sel, cured meats, heady cheeses, delicate pastries. Take a break while shopping to down a few oysters and a glass of Sancerre. The wine store is fully stocked with wines of France, and the upper levels are a sort of Disneyland for food lovers and cooks, resplendent with the finest cooking utensils, French cookware, tableware and other culinary delights.
There’s the oldest chocolate shop, but there’s also a plethora of chocolate shops, with one found on virtually every street in St Germain. Other favorites are Pierre Cardolini, Patrick Roger, Pierre Hermé (of course), Ladurée, and Gerard Mulot. One of the most popular activities is a St Germain chocolate walking tour.
The oldest chocolate shop in Paris is Debauve & Gallais, which opened its doors in around 1800. Allegedly the last kings of France were customers of Debauve & Gallais. By 1819 Debauve & Gallais were the sole royal chocolate supplier to Napoleon as well as his court.
Pierre Hermé has the pastry pedigree of legend, he is the only pastry chef to receive the highest French honor, Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. Chocolate macarons and signature Ispahan made with rose, raspberry and litchi is recommended.
Brasserie Lipp, a Paris institution since 1880. A meal at Brasserie Lipp will whisk you to a different era. The food is classic French, the overall experience makes you feel like you’re flung back a century or two.
Cafe de Flore
Cafe de Flore first opened her doors in St Germain in the late 19th century. During the 1920s and 1930s poor artists and writers and revolutionaries who lived in small, unheated apartments would gather at Flore to get warm and to discuss their ideas. People like Pablo Picasso, Albert Camus, Leon Trotsky, Ossip Zadkine.
Jean-Paul Sartre talked about arriving at Cafe de Flore at 9 AM and working until noon. Then he and Simone de Beauvoir would go elsewhere for lunch, return to the cafe by 2 PM and work until dinner. Afterwards they would return to the Flore for a nightcap.
In the 1960’s Cafe de Flore was the hub for New Wave celebrities Bridget Bardot, Roman Polanski, Yves Montand, Jean Seberg; and fashion icons Yves St Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Karl Lagerfeld, and Paco Rabanne.
Les Deux Magots
Hark back to French philosophical history by taking breakfast at this famous literary cafe, the air of heavy thinking is worth the price. The name “Deux Magots” refers to two Chinese wisemen (derived from “magi”) and was the name of the gift shop that previously occupied the building. The cafe was first established in 1812 at Rue de Buci and moved to the current address in 1873, in the period when the grand Paris boulevards were being created. Many famous people who may have sat in the same seat, such as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Bertolt Brecht, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, even Julia Child.
In Pop Culture
Many writers have written about this Parisian district in prose such as Boris Vian, Marcel Proust, Gabriel Matzneff (see La Nation française), Jean-Paul Caracalla or in Japanese poetry in the case of Nicolas Grenier. Egyptian writer Albert Cossery spent the later part of his life living in a hotel in this district. James Baldwin frequented the cafés, written about in Notes of a Native Son. Charles Dickens describes the fictional Tellson’s Bank as “established in the Saint Germain Quarter of Paris” in his novel A Tale of Two Cities.
Robert Lepage, Les Aiguilles et l’Opium, a play whose story takes place in a hotel room in the La Louisiane district, room 10, 1991 and 2013 (2nd adaptation).
Eve Dessarre, The Vagabonds around the Bell Tower, Pierre Horay ” Flore “, Paris, 1951. This novel, marketed with a banner “The tender and cruel heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés”, depicts the familiars of the district, artists of all sorts, failed painter, cabaret singer, poet of unknown genius, post-war children in search of happiness. In this exact and pathetic image, one recognizes without difficulty the regulars of the coffees of which in particular Chez Moineau which will become famous under the name of International lettrist.
Patrick Straram, The bottles go to bed, Allia editions, Paris, 2006, fragments found and presented by Jean-Marie Apostolidès & Boris Donné, of a novel never published narrating the heavily alcoholic excesses of characters, most of them identifiable with certain participants of the ‘ Letterist International, in the many cafés of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
1949: July Rendezvous by Jacques Becker.
1950: Pigalle-Saint-Germain-des-Prés by André Berthomieu.
1950: Disorder by Jacques Baratier.
1951: The Red Rose by Marcello Pagliero.
1958: The Cheaters by Marcel Carné.
1960: Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard.
1967: Disorder at twenty by Jacques Baratier.
1973: The Mother and the Whore by Jean Eustache.
1986: Around Midnight by Bertrand Tavernier.
Musical works and songs
In 1950, Léo Ferré recorded À Saint-Germain-des-Prés, broadcast in 78 rpm. He recorded a new version of it in 1953 (Chansons de Léo Ferré) and in 1969 (Les Douze Premieres Chansons de Léo Ferré). This song has been performed by Henri Salvador (1950), Hélène Martin, Cora Vaucaire, Anne Sofie von Otter (2013)…
In 1961, Guy Béart composed There is no more after… (in Saint-Germain-des-Prés). This song was also interpreted by Juliette Gréco, the muse of the district.
In 1967, in the song Quartier Latin (published on the album La Marseillaise), Léo Ferré notes, not without sadness, the transformations of this district compared to what he experienced during his student years, in the 1930s. This song was taken over by Annick Cisaruk in 2016.
In 1979, Michel Sardou recorded La Main aux buttocks (Verdun album), where he named the district “Saint-Germain-des-Clébards”.
In 1986, Léo Ferré recorded Gaby (album On n’est pas sérieuse qu’on a dix-sept ans), where he addressed the deceased proprietor of the cabaret L’Arlequin, metro Mabillon, where he sang regularly in 1953. He evokes the atmosphere of the nightlife of that time.
In 1991, Dany Brillant composed a song Viens à Saint-Germain about the swing style early in his career, appearing on his debut album C’est ça qui est bon.
This vibe (mentioned by Léo Ferré in 1986) has disappeared according to singer Alain Souchon who wrote a nostalgic song about it, Rive gauche, in 1999.