Many Parisians will tell you it’s old-fashioned and vanilla, but that’s a low-blow to this classy district. It’s the actual birthplace of Lutetia, the Roman city, settled after a gentle and totally-woke-I’m-certain co-opting of the local Parisii people, who were originally from what is now Britain anyway, so… And yes, Paris is named after the Parisii. The Fifth IS a bit bourgeois and right-leaning, but who cares when you’re distracted by all the medieval and Roman history and all that university and café energy. From the Pantheon to the Latin Quarter, indie movie houses, the Sorbonne headquarters, to quaint Rue Mouffetard and the Jardin des Plantes, you’ll definitely find your bonheur here.
You want to stroll down the Seine, you need to stroll down the Seine—Parisians love it and when the weather is cooperating, are there all of the time—a result of the unique development of the Berges de Seine over the last few years. The former mayor had the brilliant idea to turn two lanes of highway into a pedestrian and bike-only zone and soon followed barges dedicated to drinking, sidewalk dj sets, chillax zones, and climbing walls that you can dip into as the sun sets over the glittering river Seine. OK, so now traffic is hellish but that’s what all the share bikes are for…
This area oozes with ancient history. Unfortunately, it also oozes tourist traps. It’s still worth meandering through the cobbled streets to check out the city’s coolest indy movie theaters, some sexy cabaret action, and to pay tribute to Paris’ oldest living tree (it’s over 400 years old and still standing!). Don’t miss Shakespeare & Company Independent Bookstore for some great coffee and good reads. Is it a bit over-exposed? Maybe. But still very charming. The biggest draw for us, as architecture nerds, is the many old churches of varying architectural styles. Shoutout to: Église Saint-Étienne-du-Mont and Église Saint Julien Le Pauvre — they’re worth the genuflections.
This is the most interesting part of the fifth: a pleasant mix of architecture, intellectual vibes, greenery, cute traditional cafés and tiny indie movie houses. From the stately Panthéon, the final resting place of greats like Marie Curie, Voltaire and Josephine Baker, head down iconic Rue Mouffetard and its side streets. Then go back up to Rue Monge and check out the Arènes de Lutèce (a Roman theater ruin) and Jardin des Plantes. Have a seat in the elegant café at the Grande Mosquée for mint tea and middle-eastern pastries.