Latin Quarter Paris: Guide to the 5th Arrondissement
The 5th arrondissement of Paris is an exciting neighborhood located on the Left Bank of the Seine. The area was nicknamed the “Latin Quarter” because Latin was the primary language used at the universities in this neighborhood for hundreds of years. Because this area was inhabited by a lot of students and artists in the early 1900s, the 5th arrondissement has a bohemian, cool vibe. There are several universities still located in the Latin Quarter, so expect to see plenty of students (and student bars) in this area! There are several interesting sights and museums in the 5th arrondissement, including ancient Roman ruins, botanical gardens, and a famous bookstore!
Things to Do in the 5th Arrondissement
Points of Interest in the Latin Quarter
This impressive building in the heart of the Latin Quarter was built in the 1700s as a church for Saint Genevieve. Today, the Pantheon serves a more secular purpose as the resting place for several important French figures. People buried here include Voltaire, Rosseau, and Marie Curie. The Pantheon is open every day, and it costs 9 euros to enter.
Shakespeare and Co Book Store
The Shakespeare and Co Book Store is an independent English-language bookstore located just across the river from the Notre Dame Cathedral. The current location opened in 1951, and several famous authors have visited the store through the years, including Allen Ginsburg and James Baldwin. (For a full history of the store, check out this page from their website!) This can be a great place to pick up an English book while in Paris! It can get crowded during the peak season, so expect lines outside the store on the busiest days.
Arènes de Lutèce
In a garden hidden from crowds, you can find the ruins of an ancient amphitheater from the Gallo-Roman era! The ruins have been rebuilt since they were found in the 1900s, so there isn’t much left of the original arena. While I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see these ruins (unless you love Roman history), this can be a nice spot to stop and think about Roman Paris. There is no cost to enter.
The Paris Botanical Gardens, also known as the Jardin des Plantes in French, is located in the 5th arrondissement. It was founded in the early 1600s as a medicinal herb garden for the king, and it opened to the public in 1640. There are a few sections with different varieties of plants. The gardens are a great place to enjoy some fresh air! This garden is located next to the Natural History Museum.
This park along the Seine is a great place to have a picnic with views of the river! There is always something going on here during the summer. When I visited, there were people doing salsa, tango, and line dancing in the small amphitheaters along the Seine! There is also an open-air sculpture museum within the park.
Church of Saint Severin
There are so many beautiful churches in Paris! The Church of Saint Severin is one of the oldest churches on the Left Bank. This site has been home to various religious buildings since the 11th century, but the current structure was built in the 1400s.
Grand Mosque of Paris
This place of worship is one of the largest mosques in France, and it has beautiful gardens! Here’s an interesting piece of Paris trivia: During World War 2, the rector of this mosque protected Jewish people by providing them shelter and fake birth certificates so they could avoid persecution.
Museums in the 5th Arrondissement
The Cluny Museum, also known as the National Museum of the Middle Ages, is a museum of medieval artifacts. The museum building looks like a small castle, and it dates back to the middle ages. This museum is most famous for its unicorn tapestry! Prices vary between 5 and 9 euros per adult depending on exhibitions. The Cluny Museum is closed on Tuesdays.
National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History is made up of several smaller museums, and 3 are located on the campus in the Botanical Gardens. The Evolution Gallery has a collection of taxidermied animals, and the Gallery of Anatomy and Paleontology has lots of fossils and skeletons. There is also a Gallery of Mineralogy and Geology with interesting stones and a small zoo on the premises. The museums are closed on Tuesdays.
Arab World Institute
The Arab World Institute is a cultural center created in conjunction with 18 Arab countries to raise awareness and spread information about the Arab world. Inside, there is a museum with Arab artifacts. The Arab World Institute is closed on Mondays.
The Curie Museum is a museum devoted to radiology. The museum is located in Marie Curie’s old laboratory! It’s open Wednesday through Saturday from 1-5. There is no cost to enter!
The Paris Police Museum, or Musée de la préfecture de police in French, is a museum all about the French police. This museum would probably be most interesting to French people because it focuses on a lot of French crimes. Admission is free, and it is closed on Sundays.
Latin Quarter Paris Restaurants
While I haven’t eaten at any blog-worthy restaurants in the Latin Quarter, I have taken a food class! I took the macaron class at Le Foodist, and I really enjoyed it! You learn to make macarons and end class with tea to eat your treats!
5th Arrondissement Travel Guide: Latin Quarter Must-Sees
From the bookshelves of Shakespeare and Co to the medieval artifacts at the Cluny Museum, there’s so much to see in the 5th arrondissement. This is a great area to stay in when visiting Paris because it has so much Parisian charm and relatively few tourists. If you stay in this quarter, I recommend staying towards the center of the city, a couple blocks off the Seine! You’ll be within walking distance of major attractions and great restaurants, and you’ll feel immersed in a romantic and lively neighborhood.