Guide Tour of the 5th arrondissement of Paris, France

The 5th arrondissement of Paris, also known as the arrondissement of Panthéon, is one of the 20 arrondissements of the capital city of France. Oldest district of Paris, the 5th arrondissement is also one of the most charming. The 5th arrondissement of Paris is very heterogeneous: it includes of course the Latin Quarter, and is therefore home to a very large student population, but also the Pantheon and its rue Soufflot, one of the most chic and expensive in Paris, as well as Gallo-Roman remains which make the whole an extremely touristic sector. Thanks to its picturesque streets, its emblematic monuments is an unmissable when visiting Paris.

The 5th arrondissement is one of the capital’s central arrondissements, situated on the Rive Gauche of the River Seine, opposite Notre-Dame Cathedral. It covers most of the Latin Quarter, built by the Romans in Antiquity. It It is bordered to the north by the Seine and the 4th arrondissement, to the west by the 6th arrondissement, and to the south by the 14th and 13th arrondissements.

The arrondissement is notable for being the location of the Quartier Latin, the famous Latin Quarter is a very lively student district, one of the oldest in Paris. Its name certainly comes from the fact that, in the university sector, teaching was given in Latin (the Sorbonne was founded in the 13th century by Robert de Sorbon), which meant that the students also had to speak Latin among themselves. The area still has a significant student presence, with several universities and schools of higher education being located in the area.

The 5th arrondissement is also one of the oldest districts of the city, dating back to ancient times. The 5th arrondissement was also the core of ancient Gallo-Roman Paris, as revealed in a number of otherwise rare archaeological remains that can be seen within the district. Traces of the area’s past survive in such sites as the Arènes de Lutèce, a Roman amphitheatre, as well as the Thermes de Cluny, a Roman thermae.

Symbol of the French Republic, the Pantheon is a must for any lover of History, famous for its majestic dome, and the great figures it is home to. In addition to the Pantheon and the Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church, the 5th arrondissement is home to originals religious monuments. The Mosque of Paris first, whose superb patio and Oriental offer an exotic journey.

It is also home to the National Museum of Natural History and Jardin des plantes in its eastern part. More than just a garden, the Jardin des Plantes, one of the oldest in France, founded in the 17th century, is a scientific museum. Botanical garden, medicinal plants, alpine garden, rose garden … Its 23 hectares of greenery are an invitation to discover nature and its diversity.

Administrative districts
Like the rest of Paris, the 5th arrondissement is divided into four administrative districts:

Quartier of Saint-Victor
The Saint-Victor district is the 17th administrative district of Paris located in the 5th arrondissement. It takes its name from the former Faubourg Saint-Victor which itself held it from the Abbey of Saint-Victor. The Saint-Victor district is bounded by rue Lacépède and rue Cuvier to the south, the Seine to the northeast, and rue Descartes and rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Geneviève to the west. In the 1st century, in Lutèce, a Gallo -Roman amphitheater drained the Lutecian public here. The place was abandoned at the end of the 3rd century but later, the Frankish king Chilpéric had this amphitheater repaired in 577 AD.

The edge of the Seine served as a timber depot and shipyard. Inside the enclosure of Philippe-Auguste was the district of the Grands Degrés, northeast slope of the Sainte-Geneviève mountain, facing the archdiocese, while outside the enclosure alternated vegetable gardens, the Abbey of Saint-Victor, dwellings forming a suburb of the same name, and also, after 1612, the Hôpital de la Pitié, which was moved in 1911, to be located since then against the Salpêtrière hospital. The Abbey and through the wine hall (current Jussieu campus ).

Quartier of Jardin-des-Plantes
The Jardin-des-Plantes district is the 18th administrative district of Paris located in the 5th arrondissement, around the Jardin des Plantes. Since the Jardin des Plantes occupies the largest area of the district, it was named after it. Many streets here and in the neighboring Quartier Saint-Victor bear the names of naturalists from the Jardin royal des plantes médicinales, which became the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle: Buffon, Cuvier, Daubenton, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Guy de La Brosse, Jussieu, Lacepede …

Quartier of Val-de-Grâce
The Val-de-Grâce district is the 19th administrative district of Paris located in the 5th arrondissement. It is named for the Val-de-Grâce military hospital and former abbey on boulevard de Port-Royal. Its borders are boulevard de Port-Royal to the south, boulevard Saint-Michel to the west, rue Soufflot, rue des Fossés-Saint-Jacques and rue de l’Estrapade to the north and rue Mouffetard and rue Pascal to the east.

Quartier of la Sorbonne
The Quartier de la Sorbonne is the 20th administrative district of Paris, France. It is located in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, near the jardin du Luxembourg and the Sorbonne, on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève. It contains Paris’ main higher educational establishments and institutes and borders the Latin Quarter. Its borders are the river Seine to the north, the Boulevard Saint-Michel to the west, rue Soufflot, rue des Fossés-Saint-Jacques and rue de l’Estrapade to the south and rue Descartes, rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Geneviève, rue Frédéric-Sauton and rue du Haut-Pavé to the east.

Main Attractions
The 5th arrondissement is a university and intellectual district (many publishers and bookshops) and literary (Festival Quartier du livre), but it is also a very touristy district (very high concentration of restaurants between the Seine, the boulevard Saint-Germain, Boulevard Saint-Michel and Rue Saint-Jacques ). It is also a lively district in the evening (many pubs rue Mouffetard and rue Descartes ).

The 5th arrondissement is the oldest arrondissement in Paris, and was first built by the Romans. The construction of the Roman town Lutetia dates back from the 1st century BC, which was built after the conquest of the Gaulish site, situated on the île de la Cité by the Romans. The left bank of Paris was completely destroyed in 885 by the Normans. The city was not really rebuilt until the 11th century.

In medieval times, the various “schools” of the University of Paris were located in this area and are the origin of the name “Latin Quarter” (where Latin was spoken). The college founded by Robert de Sorbon, later called the “Sorbonne”, dates from 1257.

Many revolutionary currents take their name from the meeting places they had chosen in the district: the Cordeliers (in the 6th arrondissement ) and the Jacobins who met in the former Saint-Jacques abbey. Saint-Hilaire is a ruined 12th-century church in Paris, active until the French Revolution. The building of the current Pantheon was built in the 18th century to be the Sainte-Geneviève church. Desacralized during the Revolution, it houses the remains or the catafalques of illustrious people, as indicated by the inscription on the pediment: “To the Great Men, the grateful Fatherland”.

Historical heritage
The 5th arrondissement is one of the historic cradles of Paris which brings together many witnesses of its history. Among the most remarkable are the Arènes de Lutèce, a Gallo-Roman amphitheater built in the 1st century and the oldest vestiges of the city, the ancient baths adjoining the museum of the Middle Ages installed in the magnificent Hôtel de Cluny, dating from the 13th century and finally on the Sainte-Geneviève mountain, the monumental Pantheon, tomb of all the great people of the Nation.

In the heart of the 5th arrondissement and overflowing on the 6th, is the Latin Quarter. Its name dates back to the Middle Ages, when the masters provided their teaching and knowledge to students only in the Latin language. You can discover prestigious universities there such as the Sorbonne (where Cardinal Richelieu rests), the Collège de France and the high schools of Louis Le Grand and Henri IV.

Traced on an old Roman road that led to Italy via Lyon, rue Mouffetard is one of the oldest streets in Paris. An quite touristy address, which has preserved nevertheless many traces of the past and deserves a stroll, from the pretty place of the Contrescarpe to the church Saint-Médard.

Arènes de Lutèce
The Arènes de Lutèce are among the most important ancient Roman remains from the era in Paris. Constructed in the 1st century AD, this theatre could once seat 15,000 people and was used also as an amphitheatre to show gladiatorial combats. The terraced seating surrounded more than half of the arena’s circumference, more typical of an ancient Greek theatre rather than a Roman one which was semi-circular.

The remains were rediscovered in 1869, when new streets were being built. An excavation was subsequently ordered in 1883. The theatre has been preserved as a quiet archaeological park removed from the bustle of Parisian streets. Standing in the centre of the arena one can still observe significant remnants of the stage and its nine niches, as well as the grilled cages in the wall. The location of the actor’s dressing room, the platform of the stage, and lapidary remains can still be seen. The stepped terraces are not original, but historians believe that 41 arched openings punctuated the façade.

The Panthéon is a monument in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, France. It stands in the Latin Quarter, atop the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, in the centre of the Place du Panthéon, which was named after it. It was conceived by Louis XV as a grand neo-classical church honouring St. Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. After the Revolution, the building was converted into a mausoleum for the great philosophers, military, artists, scientists, and heroes of the French Republic. Occupants of the crypt include Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Zola, the Curies, and Alexandre Dumas (reinterred here in 2002).

The architecture of the Panthéon is an early example of Neoclassicism, surmounted by a dome that owes some of its character to Bramante’s Tempietto. The view from the dome is marvellous. The successive changes in the Panthéon’s purpose resulted in modifications of the pedimental sculptures and the capping of the dome by a cross or a flag; some of the originally existing windows were blocked up with masonry in order to give the interior a darker and more funereal atmosphere, which compromised somewhat Soufflot’s initial attempt at combining the lightness and brightness of the Gothic cathedral with classical principles. In 1851, Léon Foucault conducted a demonstration of diurnal motion at the Panthéon by suspending a pendulum from the ceiling, a copy of which is still visible today.

Religious heritage
Rich in history, the places of worship of the 5th arrondissement also deserve attention, In addition to the Pantheon and the Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church, the 5th arrondissement is home to originals religious monuments. The Mosque of Paris first, whose superb patio and Oriental offer an exotic journey.

The church Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre then, one of the oldest churches in Paris, dedicated since 1889 to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. A diversity of styles and influences that make this church one of the most original in Paris.

The Royal Abbey of Val-de-Grâce which currently houses the museum of the Armed Forces Health Service, the Church of Saint -Séverin in the flamboyant Gothic style or even the Great Mosque of Paris with its unique Hispano-Moorish architecture which houses a hammam, a restaurant and a tea room, a veritable oasis in the city.

Saint-Étienne-du-Mont is a church in Paris, on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève in the 5th arrondissement, near the Panthéon. It contains the shrine of St. Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. St. Geneviève was responsible for saving Paris from the Huns in 451 and her shrine in the church has been a popular place of pilgrimage ever since. The church as it stands dates from between 1492 and 1626 and is a mix of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. A unique feature is the Renaissance rood screen, the sole survivor in the city. The church also contains the tombs of Blaise Pascal and Jean Racine. Jean-Paul Marat is buried in the church’s cemetery.

The west front or facade of the church, in the Renaissance style and in the form of an elongated pyramid of three levels, was built in 1610 following the plan of Charles Guerin. The lowest level is covered with sculpture, and is topped by a triangular classical fronton, with a bas-relief depicting the Resurrection of Christ. The central feature of the level above is a Gothic rose window, under a curvilinear fronton, decorated with sculpture depicting the coat of arms of France and those of the old Abbey. On the top level, the triangular gable features an elliptical rose window.

The interior is a that of a hall church of large proportions, sixty-nine meters long and 25.5 meters wide. The collateral aisles on either side of the nave and choir are unusually high, and have large windows, filling the church with light. The interior of the church combines Flamboyant Gothic architecture, including elaborate rib vaults with hanging keystones, alongside elements of Italian Renaissance decoration, such as classical columns and arcades, and an abundance of sculpted heads of angels integrated into the architecture.

Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre is a Melkite Greek Catholic parish church in Paris, France, and one of the city’s oldest religious buildings. Built in Romanesque style during the 13th century, it is situated in the 5th arrondissement. Originally a Roman Catholic place of worship, Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre was built in stages from the 12th to the 19th centuries, and granted to the Eastern Catholic Melkite community in 1889. Its design was modified several times, and the resulting church is significantly smaller in size than originally planned.

Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre was designed in the conservative tradition prevalent during the rule of King Louis the Younger. The only one of the city’s twelfth-century parish churches to have endured, it was never completed in its original design: the choir area was intended to be three stories high, and the clerestory is an incomplete triforium; the nave was supposed to be covered by sexpartite vaults, which were replaced by a wooden roof and, after the 17th century, by a new system of vaults; and, of a tower meant to stand on the church’s southern side, only the staircase was begun. The eastern apses use material from an older building.

The building has piers replicating those found in Notre Dame, and the chapiters are carved with images of leaves and harpies. The choir area is covered by an iconostasis. North of the church, in the Square René Viviani, exists the oldest tree in Paris. It is a locust tree planted in 1602 by Jean Robin, gardener-in-chief during the reign of kings Henry III, Henry IV, and Louis XIII. Also known as the “Lucky Tree of Paris”, it is thought to bring years of good luck to those who gently touch the tree’s bark.

Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet is a Catholic church in the centre of Paris, France, in the 5th arrondissement. It was constructed between 1656 and 1763. The facade was designed in the classical style by Charles Le Brun. It contains many notable art works from the 19th century, including a rare religious painting by Jean-Baptiste Corot. Since the expulsion of the parish priest and his assistants by traditionalist Catholics in 1977, the church has been run by the Society of St. Pius X, which celebrates Traditional Latin Masses there.

The construction of the primary facade of the church on Rue Monge, designed by architect Charles Halley, was long unfinished, and was not completed until 1937. It follows the classical style of the rest of the building. The side doorway along the rue des Bernardins, designed by Charles Le Brun, dates to 1669, and is a particularly good example of the classicism of the period. It features pilasters in the Ionic and composite style, triangular frontons or pediments, and sculpted angels. The door, designed by Nicolas Legendre, is richly decorated with carved wreaths and heads of cherubs.

The interior of the church is a good example of the Baroque style, lavishly decorated with paintings, medallions and sculpture, dedicated to visually expressing the glory of God. The nave is lined with rows of cruciform pillars, and pilasters with capitals decorated with acanthus leaves in the classical style The arcades that separate the outer aisles from the nave have rounded arches, also in the classical Roman style.

Grand Mosque of Paris
The Grand Mosque of Paris is located in the 5th arrondissement and is one of the largest mosques in France. There are prayer rooms, an outdoor garden, a small library, a gift shop, along with a cafe and restaurant. In all the mosque plays an important role in promoting the visibility of Islam and Muslims in France. It is the oldest mosque in Metropolitan France.

Inspired by the el-Qaraouyyîn Mosque in Fez, Morocco, all of the decorative program of the Paris Mosque, including the courtyards, horseshoe arches, and in particular the zelliges, was entrusted to specialized craftsmen from North Africa using traditional materials. The 33-meter-tall minaret was inspired by the Al-Zaytuna Mosque in Tunisia. The great entrance door to the Paris Mosque is ornamented with stylized floral motifs in the most pure Islamic style.

Among the main museums and cultural institutions, the National Museum of Natural History includes the Jardin des Plantes and various galleries including the Grand Gallery of Evolution. Adjoining the Pierre-et-Marie-Curie University, the Arab World Institute offers many thematic exhibitions throughout the year. The Museum of the Middle Ages – Thermes and Hotel de Cluny is the conservatory of arts from this period, notably housing the famous tapestry of The Lady and the Unicorn. Finally, the Panthéon de Paris houses the tombs of the great men of France.

In addition, the Museum of Public Assistance – Hospitals of Paris is devoted to the history of the hospitals of Paris and the Museum of the health service of the armies of the Hospital of Val-de-Grâce to that of the armies. There are also two “administrative” museums with the Museum of Public Education, located rue Gay-Lussac, and the Museum of the Prefecture of Police, rue des Carmes, within the police station. Finally, the Quai Saint-Bernard permanently hosts the open-air Sculpture Museum of the City of Paris.

Musée Curie
The Musée Curie is a historical museum focusing on radiological research. It is located in the 5th arrondissement at 1, rue Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris. The museum was established in 1934, after Curie’s death, on the ground floor of the Curie Pavilion of the Institut du Radium. It was formerly Marie Curie’s laboratory, built 1911–1914, and where she performed research from 1914 to 1934. In this laboratory her daughter and son-in-law Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie discovered artificial radioactivity, for which they received the 1935 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

The museum contains a permanent historical exhibition on radioactivity and its applications, notably in medicine, focusing primarily on the Curies, and displays some of the most important research apparatus used before 1940. It also contains a center for historical resource which holds archives, photographs, and documentation on the Curies, Joliot-Curies, the Institut Curie, and the history of radioactivity and oncology.

Institut du Monde Arabe
The Institut du Monde Arabe, French for Arab World Institute, abbreviated IMA, is an organization founded in Paris in 1980 by France with 18 Arab countries to research and disseminate information about the Arab world and its cultural and spiritual values. The Institute was established as a result of a perceived lack of representation for the Arab world in France, and seeks to provide a secular location for the promotion of Arab civilization, art, knowledge, and aesthetics. Housed within the institution are a museum, library, auditorium, restaurant, offices and meeting rooms.

The building acts as a buffer zone between the Jussieu Campus of Pierre and Marie Curie University, built in large rationalist urban blocks, and the Seine. The river façade follows the curve of the waterway, reducing the hardness of a rectangular grid and offering an inviting view from the Sully Bridge. At the same time the building appears to fold itself back in the direction of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district. In contrast to the curved surface on the river side, the southwest façade is an uncompromisingly rectangular glass-clad curtain wall. It faces a large square public space that opens in the direction of the Île de la Cité and Notre Dame. Visible behind the glass wall, a metallic screen unfolds with moving geometric motifs.

Musée de Cluny
The Musée de Cluny is a museum of the Middle Ages in Paris, France. It is located in the Latin quarter in the 5th arrondissement of Paris at 6 Place Paul-Painlevé. The Hôtel de Cluny is partially constructed on the remnants of the third century Gallo-Roman baths known as the Thermes de Cluny, thermal baths from the Roman era of Gaul. The museum consists of two buildings: the frigidarium (“cooling room”), within the vestiges of the Thermes de Cluny, and the Hôtel de Cluny itself, which houses its collections. The frigidarium is about 6,000 square meters. The museum houses a vast collection of objects and art from the Middle Ages. Among the principal holdings of the museum are the six tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn (La Dame à la licorne).

Culture Space
The 5th arrondissement of Paris, through its history, its monuments and its various cultural institutions, is one of the richest in the capital, open to all artistic and educational fields. In particular, it is home to places to go out, particularly within the Latin, Mouffetard and Saint-Séverin districts. Between its old bookstores highlighting literature from around the world, its art galleries where contemporary and classic rub shoulders, the Institut du Monde Arabe and its thematic exhibitions and its prestigious arthouse cinemas, the 5th arrondissement gives pride of place to culture.

On the literature side, specialized booksellers and publishers such as Eyrolles, J.Vrin, Pippa, the PUF bookstore (Presses Universitaires de France), Album and Pulp’s Comics for comics, Présence Africaine, the South East Asia bookstore, the Abbey Bookshop for Anglo-American authors… Fans of English literature will not fail to push the doors of the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore with its incomparable charm.

In particular, the arrondissement has an exceptional density of art house cinemas with at least twelve independent cinemas, representing a good twenty cinemas. Among the most culturally active are the Grand Action, the Écoles Cinéma Club, Le Champo, the Filmothèque, the Reflet Médicis, the cinema du Panthéon, Espace Saint-Michel, Studio Galande, Accatone, La Clef, L’Épée de boisand the Ursuline Studio.

It is also a frequent filming location for films and television films (among the most famous: La Vérité by Henri-Georges Clouzot, Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard, Le Signe du Lion by Éric Rohmer, Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen ), whether in the La Sorbonne, Mouffetard and Panthéon districts or in the Jardin des Plantes.

Natural space
Besides the Quais de Seine, the arrondissement includes a number of green spaces, notably the Jardin des Plantes extending over 23.5 ha. Jardin des Plantes de Paris and Clos Patouillet forming the headquarters of the National Museum of Natural History; Arènes de Lutèce and Square Capitan; Tino-Rossi garden which houses the open-air Sculpture Museum on the banks of the Seine; Square Théodore-Monod; Square Garden; Square Paul Langevin; Square René-Viviani – Montebello; Square Saint-Medard.

Jardin des plantes
The Jardin des plantes is the main botanical garden in France. The Paris Botanical Garden, founded as the royal medicinal garden in 1626 by King Louis XIII’s doctor, contains over 10,000 species. Close to the banks of the Seine, the magnificent Jardin des Plantes alone is worth a getaway of several hours. This 24-hectare French-style garden is home to a number of remarkable trees and botanical curiosities as well as large greenhouses with lush vegetation.

The garden is embellished with several buildings including the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution and its 7,000 specimens of animals and skeletons. The Menagerie of the Jardin des Plantes nestled in the greenery is home to 600 animals, some of which are endangered. The grounds also include a small zoo known as La Ménagerie, and the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle.

Headquarters of the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle (National Museum of Natural History), the Jardin des plantes is situated in the 5th arrondissement, Paris, on the left bank of the river Seine, and covers 28 hectares (280,000 m2). Since 24 March 1993, the entire garden and its contained buildings, archives, libraries, greenhouses, ménagerie (a zoo), works of art, and specimens’ collection are classified as a national historical landmark in France (labelled monument historique).

From rue Mouffetard to the Latin Quarter, the 5th arrondissement has a good number of good gourmet addresses. Typical brasseries rub shoulders with legendary addresses such as La Tour D’Argent, author tables such as Hugo & Co or Baïeta and world gastronomy restaurants such as the Kitchen Galerie Bis (KGB) or Lhassa.

Many pastry chefs present their specialties and other sweets there. Between the kouign amman from Georges Larnicol, the puffs from Maison Odette, the artisanal Gelati ice creams from Alberto or the cinnamon rolls from Flying Circus, sweet tooths will be spoiled for choice.

Night life
Jazz club, theatre, bars or cafés … rue Mouffetard, Saint-Michel and the Latin Quarter are known for their festive atmosphere which often lasts until dawn.

Narrow and cobbled, the famous rue de la Huchette is home to many festive bars, the Théâtre de la Huchette – where La Cantatrice de Chauve has been performed since 1957 – and one of the most cutting-edge jazz clubs in the city, the Cellar of the Huchette.

A little further on, from the Place de la Contrescarpe, the mythical rue Mouffetard and its typical bars with a warm atmosphere, such as the Caveau des Oubliettes, are the best hours of the Parisian night. Rue du Cardinal Lemoine is home to the oldest cabaret in Paris, the Paradis Latin.