The center of Paris. What is it? Where is it? Does is really exist? We’re back with the final installment our Paris, Presented by Lodgis series to tell you all you need to know about arrondissements 4, 5 and 6. From the cobbled streets of the Marais to the much-loved Latin Quarter and the iconic neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, it’s hard to know where to start. Why not begin your journey by reading on?
The 4th arrondissement
Once the center of medieval Paris, the 4th covers the historic Marais and the Île de la Cité, which has become virtually essential on every visitor’s checklist. Its marvels include Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris’ original City Hall (Hôtel de Ville), the Pompidou Center and the charming Jewish quarter that leads towards what many consider to be the most beautiful square in Paris: the Place des Vosges. We won’t say too much more, as there’s almost too much to tell you. But the best way to discover the 4th arrondissement is undoubtedly by exploring it on foot. So here’s a short list of its greatest attractions:
- The Pompidou Center (the largest museum of modern and contemporary art in Europe – the building is a feat of modern art in itself)
- Notre Dame Cathedral (the world’s most famous Gothic cathedral – stained glass windows, gargoyles, handsome towers…it doesn’t get much better than this!)
- The Place des Vosges (formerly the Place Royale of the French nobility – with its red brick vaulted arcades and beautiful gardens, this is Paris’ most luxurious square.) Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Maison Victor Hugo (the former residence of France’s greatest Romantic writer)
- Visit one of the glorious Hôtels Particuliers (classical free-standing mansions turned museums, including the Hôtel de Sully, Hôtel de Carnavalet and Hôtel de Soubise)
- Indulge in an authentic bistro dinner at Chez Janou, or tuck into a falafel at the city’s best Lebanese restaurant, L’As Du Falaffel
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The 5th arrondissement
Located on the left bank of the Seine, the 5th arrondissement is also known as the Latin Quarter and is home to Paris’ oldest university, the Sorbonne. With traces of its Roman origins blended with a lively new district of elite schools, universities and colleges, the 5th is the perfect place to be if you’re a student, expat or young family.
Be sure to check out Shakespeare & Company, a quaint old English bookstore right by Notre Dame, where you can browse the shelves, play an old piano upstairs and attend the regular lecutres and literary discussions for free. Once you’ve conquered the Pantheon, don’t forget to head east to explore the Rue Mouffetard district, where you’ll find an unpretentious open market and a series of pedestrian streets lined with vintage shops, bars and restaurants. Here are our favorite spots in a nutshell:
- The Pantheon (a neoclassical structure built in the style of the Pantheon of Rome, which now serves as a mausoleum for some of France’s most famous citizens, including Émile Zola, Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Louis Braille)
- La Grande Mosquée de Paris (Paris’ largest mosque, founded in honour of the Muslims who lost their lives fighting in WW1)
- The Arènes de Lutèce (a Gallo-Roman amphitheatre that once hosted gladitorial fights)
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The 6th arrondissement
This is unequivocally the district ”de luxe” – an arrondissement that exudes a kind of timeless glamour. From the ritzy streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prés to the paradise that is the Jardin du Luxembourg, the 6th has a bit of everything…usually with a price tag attached!
You can’t deny yourself breakfast at Les Deux Magots, the snazzy former hangout of the French intelligentsia that included Alfred Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Nor should you overlook a fuss-free feast at the iconic Brasserie Lipp, where the food is hearty and the service impeccable. So, without further ado, we give you the 6th arrondissement in 5 points:
- Explore the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood. The aforementioned Deux Magots, Brasserie Lipp, as well as the Café de Flore, will help to transport you back in time
- The Saint Sulpice church (a grand Roman Catholic church that rivals Notre Dame in its splendour)
- Indulge in macaroons at Ladurée (Paris’ most famous branch of the luxury French bakery and confectionery store, at 21 rue Bonaparte)
- If shopping is a pastime of yours, the Rue Bonaporte and Rue Jacob have some of Paris’ most famous independent retail stores. From exotic fabric shops to antiquarian book sellers, you’ll need to bring some euros with you!
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