Saint Germain Des Pres and the 6th Arrondissement Paris, France
The 6th arrondissement of Paris, France is one of the most quintessentially Parisian quarters of the French capital. When I lived in Paris, I thought it was one of the most wonderful parts of the city – full of French charm without a lot of the crowds you’d find around the touristy landmarks. The 6th arrondissement is located on the left bank in the middle of the city, connected to the first and second arrondissements by the Pont Neuf and Pont des Arts (the famous bridges decorated with love locks). Although it isn’t home to the Mona Lisa or Tour Eiffel, the 6th arrondissement is a lovely place to spend a relaxed afternoon in Paris. The Luxembourg Gardens and Saint Germain des Pres are situated within the 6th arrondissement, along with some of the most famous bistros in Paris.
Getting to the 6th Arrondissement
If you’re close by, you can easily stroll along the Seine to this beautiful neighborhood, but the Metro also has a number of stops that will put you in the center of this arrondissement. I recommend taking the 4 line to either Saint-Germain-des-Pres or Odeon because both stops are located on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, located in the heart of the Saint-Germain-Des-Pres and Odeon quarters.
Where to eat in St Germain des Pres
Saint Germain des Pres is home to some of the most famous cafes and bistros in Paris, including Cafe de Flore and Les Deux Magots. These cafes are extremely well known for their popularity among members of the existentialist and surrealist movements. I loved visiting the Cafe de Flore whenever I came to this part of the city. This cafe has been open since the 1880s making it one of the oldest coffeehouses in Paris, and it has served the likes of Picasso and many other famous artists and writers. Across the street from Cafe de Flore is Les Deux Magots, has also been open since the late 1800s and hosted the likes of Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir during the 1900s. It’s worth visiting either of these cafes for their history and ambiance while in Saint Germain des Pres, so grab an outdoor table and snack on a Croque Madame or espresso for a thoroughly French experience.
For a midday sweet treat, head to Maison Georges Larnicol, a chocolate and pastry boutique. The owner of this store has the distinction of being a “Meilleur Ouvrier de France Pâtissier,” which means their pastry craftsmanship has been officially recognized by the French government as outstanding. Maison Georges Larnicol makes amazing chocolate, and you can try lots of different flavors and shapes by buying a bag of chocolate and caramels priced by weight. I loved the salted caramel eggs at Easter time and the beautiful chocolate figures they make throughout the year. They also sell jars of the decadent salted caramel that you can use in your own recipes (or eat straight from the jar)! This patisserie is also very famous for their kouginettes (pictured below), which were super buttery and rich. I prefer the chocolate, but my friends love these little pastries!
Check out my guide to the best macarons in Paris for more yummy French treats!
Things to do in the 6th Arrondissement
The Jardin du Luxembourg (or Luxembourg Gardens) takes up most of the 6th arrondissement. This beautiful garden is home to the Luxembourg Palace, a former royal residence which now serves as a meeting place for the French senate. No matter the season, I loved walking around the gardens with my Georges Larnicol pastries and spending time with friends. This quarter has a number of impressive churches, including the Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Prés, which is the oldest church in Paris and the resting place of several notable figures, and Saint-Sulpice, which was built in the 1600s. I personally think the best way to spend an afternoon in the neighborhood is wandering around the beautiful streets and admiring the architecture, history, and atmosphere.
Shopping in Saint Germain des Pres
There are a number of interesting stores worth visiting if you’re shopping in Saint Germain des Pres. If you want a great selection of French cosmetic and skincare products, check out Citypharma, a giant pharmacy featuring brands like Bioderma, Vichy, Nuxe, La Roche Posay, and more. In addition to local boutiques, there are also a number of brand name stores across price points like ZARA, Saint Laurent, and more.
I absolutely loved the 6th arrondissement in Paris, France. From the culturally significant cafes that were once frequented by the likes of Camus and Picasso, to the lovely Luxembourg Gardens that are perfect for people watching, this arrondissement is perfect for someone who wants to enjoy the Parisian atmosphere without the hoards of tourists that you might find in other neighborhoods.
Check out my guide to Le Marais for your next trip to the city of lights for another lovely Parisian experience!
Which arrondissement of Paris is your favorite?