5th Arrondissement

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.