Best known as Saint-Germain-des-Prés, this left bank neighborhood manages to check every box for visitors to Paris: history, architecture, shopping, dining, highbrow intellectual stimulation, and glamour. Highlights include the posh, manicured Jardin du Luxembourg (don’t miss impeccably dressed French kids pushing vintage toy sailboats around the park’s mythical central pond), the fancy Saint-Germain-des-Prés art galleries, cafés haunted by the ghosts of high society literaries and philosophers (Bonjour Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre at Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots) and, of course, the Saint-Sulpice cathedral (Film legend Catherine Deneuve is watching you from her penthouse right across the square). End your Sixième visit with a stroll down the poetically named rue du Cherche-Midi (‘Noon-Seeking street’—Google the convoluted story behind the name: You won’t be disappointed).
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. It went from multi-lane highway to frolic zone for pedestrians, cyclists, and alcohol appreciation meetings alike. Read in-depth to decode it according to your tastes and plans for the day as the vibe varies quite a bit from cheap, youthful, and boisterous East to still-lovely but touristy, 15€-for-a-mediocre-cocktail, West side (If you can see the Eiffel Tower…)
This quarter, straddling the 14th and 15th arrondissements, is a commercial mix of shopping, movie theaters, crêperies and bistros surrounding the Tour Montparnasse skyscraper and the Montparnasse train station. Echoes remain of the gritty/glam Paris of Henry Miller and Anais Nin here at the old-school ~but not corrupted~ big, old, Parisian cafés like La Rotonde, Le Select, Café du Dome, La Coupole.…the best places to have a glass of wine or a seafood platter and imagine yourself as courageously perverted as the Parisian avant-garde of the 1930s…
Once known to be the hangout of King Louis XIII, Delacroix and Voltaire, the Jardin du Luxembourg and the cafés surrounding it highlight the art, culture and relaxed way of life that are intertwined with Parisian life. Besides the gardens, don’t miss the enclaves around Carrefour de l’Odéon, St-Sulpice cathedral, Théâtre de l’Odéon and the Sénat, and rue de Médicis.
This is the best-known, most visited part of the Sixth. The reason is that it’s a mix of chic and commercial, plus central and beautiful. Highlights here include the picture-perfect, quiet area around Place de Furstemberg, the very old church after which the quarter is named, Café de Flore, Café des Deux Magots (don’t bother eating at these institutions. The food is pricey. Instead, enjoy a drink on the terrace), Rue Bonaparte, Rue Jacob, and Rue de l’Université. Quaint rue de Buci is filled with tons of touristy restaurants and bars, and it gets loud.