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Quartier Latin Travel Guide

Quartier Latin or the Latin Quarter (5th Arrondissement) is the warren of steep, sloping streets[1] generally considered the refuge of Paris’ intellectuals, artists, and bohemians.[2] It has a reputation for having a small-town atmosphere and a hip and chic feel to it. Originally established by the Romans as the ancient city of Gallo-Roman Paris, the Latin Quarter has had[3] a politically turbulent history. In 1871, Place St Michel was the setting of the infamous Paris Commune uprising, which developed after the French were defeated in the Franco-Prussian war. In May 1968, the quarter was briefly engulfed in a forgettable student uprising.[4]

The quarter is also home to La Sorbonne, which until 1969 served as the seat of the University of Paris. The Sorbonne was founded in 1257 and grew into a famous center of learning in the Middle Ages. Even today, lectures are held on this original site despite the University of Paris having split into 13 separate universities.[5]

The heart of the Latin Quarter is Boulevard St Michel, which is a lively mélange of cafés, bookshops, clothing stores, experimental film houses, and nightclubs.[6] The quarter is also home to the National Museum of the Middle Ages, which has one of the world’s greatest collections of medieval art. It boasts stunning tapestries, medieval decorative arts, works of gold and ivory, antique furniture, illuminated manuscripts, and Gothic sculptures. Be sure to check out the Panthéon and the St Séverin Church as well. The former is a 18th century church that serves as the final resting place of some of France’s greatest citizens – Voltaire, Zola, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Pierre and Marie Curie, and Alexandre Dumas.[7] The latter church is from the 13th century and showcases one of the best examples of the Flamboyant Gothic style of architecture.[8] Also, if you are interested in Arab culture and art, the Institut du Monde Arabe and its glass-and-steel edifice houses a vast library and art museum on the same subject.[9]

Institut de Monde Arabe
Musée National du Moyen-Age
St Séverin

DK Publishing. Europe (Eyewitness Travel Guides), Revised Edition. New York: DK Travel, 2004. ISBN: 0789497301.

Fisher, Robert I. C., and Fodor’s. Fodor’s France. New York: Fodor’s Travel Publications, 2007. ISBN: 1400016878.

[1] Fisher, 78-79
[2] DK, 156
[3] Fisher, 79
[4] DK, 156
[5] Id. at 157
[6] Id.
[7] Fisher, 81-82
[8] DK, 156
[9] Fisher, 81-82

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