Paris – the mere mention of that simple word invokes thoughts, feelings, memories and expectations even for those who have never visited.
The acclaimed capital of love and city of light was deemed so beautiful by Hitler that he decided to save it as long as the new Berlin surpassed it.
From the twinkling lights around the Elysees to the perfect blend of old and new architecture working in harmony, Paris is a city that visually delights. Every corner turned is greeted with a street scene, a piece of history or surprise that seems to make me smile.
Each arrondissement has its own unique vibe, identity and magnificent piece of architecture to show off! My personal favourite though has always been the Latin Quarter or rather Quartier Latin. Situated on the left bank of the Seine around the Sorbonne it is the original quarter of Bohemian life.
Today the Latin Quarter is still an extremely youthful and inspiring area. Personally I think there is a lot to see around here, much more than any other area of the city.
The historical building that famously housed the University of Paris sits at the heart of the Latin Quarter and was one of the first universities in the world. Well known for its dedication to Literature and Languages the area is a hive of activity with scholars today just as much as it was in the 13th century.
Place St. Michel
An open square with an interesting baroque fountain depicting St Michel killing some demons. This square has plenty of history from the French resistance against occupying Nazi’s to student protests and also being a hang out for artists, hippies and poets.
Shakespeare & Co.
Shakespeare & Co. is a bookstore that’s history dates back to 1919. It is one of those places that brings the Paris of old to life. The original store was often a gathering place for Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and James Joyce. Recently the bookshop was featured in the excellent Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris, which starred Owen Wilson.
On Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays there is a great local market here in the square. It has a wonderful village atmosphere and is a great place to come and get some real local delicacies. The market has become quite popular with tourists over the years but has kept its local feel and charm.
The Pantheon is an incredible piece of Neoclassical architecture, built to replace the damaged church of Sainte Genevieve. The building has had a few uses from a church to a mausoleum but is also a famous burial site with Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie and other all laid to rest here.
Saint Severin is a beautiful Roman Catholic church and one of the oldest that still stands on the Left Bank. The bell is the oldest one in Paris and the building has some great gothic gargoyles and flying buttresses.
The Latin quarter is also well located and within walking distance to other famous sites such as the Notre Dame, River Seine, Saint Sulpice and Jardin de Luxembourg.
Whilst not quite as popular as other districts the Latin Quarter is well worth exploring during your time in Paris. You can easily do a self guided walking tour like this one mentioned in France Today – http://www.francetoday.com/articles/2012/02/11/walking-the-latin-quarter.html
So what makes Paris so beautiful for me I think the words by French historian Jules Michelet sum up Paris perfectly…..