Everything You Need to Know about Quartier Latin
Resting on the western banks of the Seine, the Latin Quarter District makes up parts of the 5th and 6th arrondissements of the French capital. Once known for its Medieval universities, the district retains much of its educational reputation alongside its modern artistic Bohemian flare.
Reflecting the river and its famous Sainte-Chapelle gothic church, the Latin Quarter is a real microcosm of all that Paris once was and still is. Let’s delve into the famous district of the Latin Quarter and see what it can offer, for those who want to visit and also live in one of Paris’ most popular districts.
A Brief Introduction to the Latin Quarter
Paris’ Latin Quarter is one of the oldest parts of the city and has long held a place in European thought. The University of Paris, commonly known as the Sorbonne, named after its main building, was founded in the 12th century and quickly gained traction as being one of the top sites of learning in Europe. The educated classes who attended the university and their teachers would speak in Latin, giving the district its name.
This strong link with student living has long been a central point to the Latin Quarter throughout its history; from its medieval foundations, its links to the student protests of the late 1960s and right up to the present day.
A bohemian, educated and artistic flavor runs right through the Latin Quarter, only boosted by its student population, charming book stores, and quintessential atmospheric Parisian cafes. Alongside this surface-level laidback feel, the French capital’s Latin Quarter also plays host to booming day and night scenes. This is held up by its lively restaurants, theatres, and historical sites such as gothic churches and the ruins of a Roman amphitheater.
The Latin Quarter has long been a favorite and highly sought-after place to live in Paris, for both locals and ex-pats alike. Its strong cultural identity has made it a must-visit place on any visit to the city. Yet, this strong influx of tourism has not been overdone and it still strongly retains its authenticity and overall Frenchness – something that many love and come back for.
1. Things to Do in the Latin Quarter
As one of the most popular places to visit in all of Paris it is no accident that the plethora of sights, landmarks, and things to do in the Latin Quarter are seemingly endless. These range from dining at some of the best cafes and restaurants in the city to exploring the district’s rich history and culture; the Latin Quater’s palette is one that is full of color.
Visit The Cluny Museum; the National Museum of the Middle Ages
Diving straight into what has made this district famous for centuries, a visit to the Cluny Museum or the Musée National du Moyen Âge, to give it its official name, is a must.
This museum is, in fact, two museums in one. The first is the medieval museum itself, telling the story of the Parisian middle ages, and the second is the fact the museum is housed in the best-preserved Roman bath in France.
The Cluny Museum is an incredible homage to the medieval age of France and particularly the region of Paris, with a number of incredible artifacts from the period. Make sure you take a minute to see the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, one of the best-preserved medieval artifacts in the world.
Considered to be the Mona Lisa of medieval tapestries, The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries were woven in Flanders during the early 16th century and depict meditation on earthly pleasures and courtly culture – all through the five human senses.
Aside from this breathtaking item, the museum has hundreds of other must-see items and artifacts from the medieval period and even early Roman rule in France. For both lovers of history and art, visiting the Musée National du Moyen Âge is a must when in the Latin Quarter.
Take a walk around the Panthéon
Another of the Latin Quarter’s most notable monuments is the Panthéon, perched on the slightly elevated Saint-Genevieve hilltop. Constructed in the 18th century, the Panthéon is a mausoleum that holds the tombs of France’s most celebrated citizens.
Built in a neoclassical style, the inscription over its welcoming Corinthian columns reads “Aux Grands Hommes la Patrie Reconnaissante” which means ‘Great Men, Their Country is Grateful.’
The building was influenced by two of Europe’s famous constructions, with its facade modeled on the ancient Parthenon in Rome and its domed roof after St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Stepping inside, you will come across a number of crypts holding some of the most famous and successful people in France’s history.
Authors Victor Hugo and Emile Zola, as well as the philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau, are buried here. In the mid-1990s, many celebrated French females have also been inturned, including Nobel Prize-winning physicist Marie Curie.
Wander along the La Mouffe
Arguably one of the most iconic streets in the Latin Quarter, the Rue Mouffetard is one of the city’s oldest and has the atmosphere to match. Known simply as La Mouffe to local Parisians, Rue Mouffetard is adorned with a number of cafes, restaurants, and 16th to 18th-century houses.
Popular with all ages but especially local students, the weekend evenings are where La Mouffe really comes to life. Vibrant with a sociable atmosphere, the street becomes the place to go in the Latin Quarter as live musicians come out to entertain both diners and drinks alike.
Rue Mouffetard begins near the Panthéon and ends at the Place de la Contrescarpe, with the whole street containing a delightful snapshot of Parisian life. During the early morning, you will find traditional markets plying their trade, with fresh fruit and vegetables – only the best French produce for the residents of the Latin Quarter. Aside from the morning market, the streets are also renowned for their selection of bakeries, cheese shops, and other specialty food stores.
Dine at a Péniche
Sitting on the banks of the River Seine, the Latin Quarter offers up idyllic views of the water as you walk along its northern stretches. You’ll also notice the small boats that are moored along its banks, known as péniches.
Many of these barge-like boats are home to small and charming restaurants on board. One of the most popular of these residing in the Latin Quarter is La Nouvelle Seine, offering gourmet food and on-boat entertainment. This is the ideal place to enjoy great food while gazing up at one of the capital’s most famous buildings, the Notre Dame Cathedral.
2. Art scene in the Latin Quarter
The world of art goes hand in hand throughout the city of Paris and the Latin Quarter is no exception to this rule. Home to a myriad of art galleries and exceptional examples of French architecture and art history, a simple wander through the district is enough to take you deep into the local art scene.
One of the best examples of the Latin Quarter’s art scene is at ArtEthic Galerie, the center of the district. This gallery is home to an ever-changing plethora of art exhibitions, showcasing the best in the capital’s new artists. With no rules on what they will show, you are always guaranteed to come across a piece that you get you thinking.
Another must-see gallery is the Galerie ANAPHORA, approaching the concept of art in a whole new way. Galerie ANAPHORA specializes in prints, engravings, drawings, photographs, and works on paper, all in different forms. Many of the pieces of art use traditional methods of printing but with a modern twist, creating works of art that really make their mark on the art scene of the Latin Quarter.
3. Nightlife and Music Scene in the Latin Quarter
As we mentioned above, the Latin Quater’s life and soul is its university and student population. This being said, it’s no surprise that the neighborhood is renowned for its diverse and eclectic nightlife.
From laidback bars, booming nightclubs to independent music venues and everything in between. Whether you’re visiting the Latin Quarter or calling the neighborhood home, there will be a nighttime destination for every day of the week, no matter your tastes.
Let’s take a look at the Latin Quater’s range of nightlife.
The Caveau de la Huchette
Only a stone’s throw away from the banks of the River Seine, the Caveau de la Huchette optimizes what it is to enjoy French night in the Latin Quarter, or even Paris as a whole. Housed within a building that has stood since the 16th century, the Caveau de la Huchette is a cave-like jazz bar with an atmosphere to die for.
The Huchette jazz bar has been doing its thing since the late 1940s and is an institution when it comes to nightlife in the city. Its relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere will take you back through the decades to the city’s smoky jazz rooms of years gone by.
Every evening at around 9/9:30, the doors open, and the jazz performances begin. With small circular tables and an acoustic sound like no other, Caveau de la Huchette is the ideal place to sip your favorite whiskey or wine while listening to the smooth jazz tones.
If you’re looking for a little more sophistication to your evening in the Latin Quarter, you can do no better than heading to the district’s Castor Club. Although many nighttime revelers may wander in any old bar with their daytime attire, you may want to make a little more effort when crossing the threshold of the Castor Club.
With classy decor and a sophisticated air, the Castor Club employs only the finest Parisian mixologists. These will strive to serve up some of the best cocktails in the city, whatever your tastes may be. Don’t be put off by the apparent stuffiness of the place, as you draw back the curtain on all this pretense, and by the end of the night, you will be dancing to some classic 80s tunes or modern numbers, just as you may be in any other bar.
Le Requin Chagrin
Stripping away all of the over-the-top formalities, most nights out in the city you just want a laid-back no-frill bar. The perfect fit for this bill is the Le Requin Chagrin, an old-fashioned pub that strives to uphold its come as you are policy. Whether your dressed for a night on the town or have just stumbled in after a day at work, all are welcomed here.
One of the best things about this pub is that no matter what day of the week you happen to pop in, you’re always guaranteed a sociable atmosphere and welcoming smile. With regular happy hours providing ice-cold glasses of beer and the odd cocktail, you’ll also be pleasantly surprised by the quality and value of Le Requin Chagrin’s drinks.
When all other bars start to wind down, head over to Le Requin Chagrin and sip until the early hours, as the doors don’t close until around 5 am – although it’s often only the locals that know this!
4. Food Scene in the Latin Quarter
As one of the premier neighborhoods in the French capital, it is no surprise that the Latin Quarter continues to hold up that traditional reputation of France’s wining and dining scene.
From traditional French bistros, idyllic cafes, and a number of cuisines from across the globe, the Parisian Latin Quarter has a little bit of everything.
Le Méchoui Du Prince
With a nod to the long-established French and Moroccan link, Le Méchoui Du Prince is one of the finest Moroccan eateries in Paris, and its 50-year history can attest to this. Serving up the best of Moroccan cuisine in a beautifully decorated restaurant, you will find no better examples of North African food in the city. As well as an eclectic menu of Moroccan favorites such as tagine and couscous, there is also a selection of fine North African wines that complement the food perfectly.
Bistro Des Augustins
If you’re looking for traditional Parisian comfort food while living in or visiting the Latin Quarter, you can do no better than to visit Bistro Des Augustins. Bistro Des Augustins is a small establishment with no fuss and frills, only adding to the feel-good atmosphere of the bistro.
Think of ingredients such as potatoes combined with cream, cheese, bacon, or chicken and a chunk of french bread on the side – what more could you ask for! As well as a few small tables inside, Bistro Des Augustins has a number of tables out along the street, perfect for watching the world go by as you dine on French classics.
Les Crêpes De Louis-Marie
Another French favorite, Les Crêpes De Louis-Marie, serves up the best crepes in the entire Latin Quarter. Whether you are of a sweet or savory disposition, Les Crêpes De Louis-Marie has something for every taste. All of the crêpes are made fresh, and there are vegetarian options available, making it even more inclusive.
While you’re tucking into your crepe, don’t forget to order a glass of fine Bretton cider, the ideal accompaniment for a traditional French crêpe. Although on the most southern end of the Latin Quarter neighborhood, the walk is worth it for their beautifully tasty crepes alone.
5. Living in the Latin Quarter
What is the average rent in the Latin Quarter?
When we take the French capital as a whole, there is inevitable competitiveness for space and for rental properties in its center. With this already in mind, it’s no wonder that the overly popular neighborhood of the Latin Quarter also holds this reputation.
With both the native French and numerous ex-pats seeking rental properties in the Latin Quarter, rent prices have only continued to soar over the past two decades.
With the Latin Quarter being a hotbed for students and student accommodation, there are instances where rent prices may be slightly lower than you would expect for this area of the city. Being so close to the river, however, there is an undeniable divide, with rent prices being far higher closer to the Seine.
A one-bedroom apartment in the Latin Quarter is likely to cost you around €1,800 a month. A furnished studio apartment, on the other hand, will cost you closer to the €1,000 mark. If you are looking for something bigger, such as a two-bedroom apartment in the Latin Quarter, the rent prices are likely to rise to the figure of €2,600 and sometimes much higher.
How to find an apartment in the Latin Quarter
Sourcing an apartment in the French capital was once a convoluted and drawn-out process, especially if you were moving from outside of France, to begin with. A period of time would’ve had to be dedicated to liaisoning with numerous landlords and visiting properties.
Now, with the advent of sites such as ours, this whole process can be streamlined into a science. The website helps you find certain particulars that are lacking elsewhere, whether this is a certain moving-in date, the number of rooms, or furnished/unfurnished.