PARIS ARRONDISSEMENT GUIDE: 5th ARRONDISSEMENT OF PARIS
A nice introduction to Paris
PARIS 5TH ARRONDISSEMENT IN A NUTSHELL
The 5th Arrondissement of Paris is one of the oldest Paris districts. It is in this district of Paris where the Roman city Lutetia (IC AD) developed along its Cardo Maximus, the present Rue Saint Jacques. Like all the Roman cities, Lutetia had a forum (current Rue Soufflot), a couple of Roman baths (Les Thermes de Lutece) and even an amphitheater known today as Arènes de Lutèce. You probably know about France’s km 0, located in front of Notre Dame. Lutetia ‘s km 0 was somewhere between 172-174 rue S. Jacques.
Did you know? Rue Saint Jacques, Paris is the oldest street in Paris. Its original Western alignment is the founding trace of the Roman city of Lutetia (IC AD), the Cardo Maximus. The Cardo Decumanus paths have been almost totally erased from the current topography of Paris.
Apart from Lutetia ‘s Roman layout of streets and main public spaces, another thing that defined Paris 5’s topography was the Bievre river. La Bievre crossed Paris 13 and Paris 5, flowing around Saint Genevieve mountain to finally reach the Seine not far from le Petit Pont. Along the river shores many tinsmiths, shoemakers, and bleachers lived and worked so the area was very dirty and smelly. That’s why in 1860 the city started to cover la Bievre.
The Latin Quarter and its students
The fifth arrondissement is also called the Latin Quarter. The name comes from Lutetia ‘s former inhabitants but also because later in the Middle Ages it became the center of university life and Latin was commonly spoken by students and religious people. In Paris 5th Arrondissement we find the first universities in the city (i.e La Sorbonne), many beautiful libraries and lots of medieval churches and convents which are worth the visit.
More recently, in May 1968, the Latin Quarter was the center of the student protests, with the occupation of the universities like la Sorbonne. The most famous barricades were those of the rue Gay-Lussac.
Today Paris 5 is the students and intellectuals’ neighborhood. It is also one of the most touristy Paris neighborhoods, the mass and bad tourism in Paris in our opinion. There is much more than Shakespeare & Co, or Rue de la Harpe, believe us. As locals, we know how to enjoy Paris 5 far from the crowds most of the time. Check the list of our proposals to enjoy Paris Like a Local. This time there is a lot of history behind.
TOP TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN PARIS 5
No surprises here: you can find all these Paris Monuments and Paris points of interest on all the guidebooks about Paris so no post talking about the fifth arrondissement would be complete without the top tourist attractions in Paris. If this is your first trip to Paris you will like to visit some of them, they are very touristy but beautiful!
Arènes de Lutèce – Lutetia ‘s Roman amphitheater
Le Pantheon of Paris and Foucault Pendulum – Pantheon inside
Grande Galerie de l’Évolution
Institut du Monde Arabe
Cluny Museum – Museum of Middle Ages
QUIRKY AND UNUSUAL SIGHTS IN PARIS 5
Some of them are part of famous places in Paris. Some of them are Paris best-kept secrets. This is our personal list of unusual things to see in Paris 5th Arrondissement to enjoy Paris Like a Local.
Grand Nef at Collège des Bernardins – perfect and beautiful Medieval Architecture
Beautiful rood screen at S. Etienne du Mont Church– the sole surviving example in Paris
Last remains of Philippe Auguste’s walls – rue Clovis, rue Descartes, rue du Cardinal-Lemoine, rue Thouin, rue de l’Estrapade, rue Jean Lartigue
Quirky Fountain Georges Cuvier – the sculpture in honor of the “father of paleontology” is very well accompanied here!
The oldest street sign in Paris – at 42 rue Galande, with S. Etienne and two oarsmen on a boat (XIVth century?)
Jardin des Plantes’ greenhouses – beautiful iron architecture (XVIIIth century)
The oldest tree in Paris – at Square Vivienne, it survives more or less since 1602
Quirky Buffon’s band-stand – at Jardin des Plantes and one of the first iron buildings in the world, it had a noon mark on its top
UNIQUE THINGS TO DO IN PARIS 5
On our Paris Arrondissement Guides, we like to encourage people to beat the crowds and explore Paris beyond its main sights. Despite being one of the most touristy Paris arrondissements we like to visit the Latin Quarter from time to time, especially when the weather is nice. We like to see Jardin des Plantes through the seasons or a stroll around Rue Mouffetard and Place de la Contrescarpe to enjoy its lively atmosphere (touristy, YES, but also loved by locals). In addition, our favorite shops for hiking and traveling equipment are located between Boulevard S. Germain and rue des Ecoles so the Latin Quarter is a kind of paradise for us. This is our personal list of unique things to do in Paris 5 to enjoy Paris like a local.
Have a blast among dinosaurs and other beasts – at Grande Galerie de l’Evolution
Visit les Thermes de Lutece (Lutetia’s Roman Baths) – inside the fantastic Cluny Museum
Play pétanque with the locals – at Arènes de Lutèce
Swim some laps in beautiful Pontoise swimming pool – at 19 rue de Pontoise, it is also a Historical Monument (Art Déco)
Enjoy a book in a quiet and medieval atmosphere – at Jardin Médiéval, next to Cluny Museum
Lose the sense of time at Paris Jazz Corner – at 5 rue de Navarre, it has a large collection of LPs, CDs, and books about Jazz
Learn the history of S. Médard Church – at 141 rue Mouffetard, where “by order of the King, God is forbidden to work miracles in this place”
Beautiful Musée Curie – visit Marie Curie’s office and lab and learn about the discovery of radium and polonium
Take a regenerative hammam & massage plus a mint tea – at exotic Mosquée de Paris : -)
Enjoy Rue de Mouffetard’s village atmosphere – once Hemingway’s HQ and always a moveable feast
Sunset with a view – at Institut du Monde Arabe’s rooftop
swimming pool picture courtesy of @guide-piscine
EATING IN PARIS 5 LIKE A LOCAL
Foodies will love colorful rue de Mouffetard, with endless delicacies shops, street food, and little bistros.
Check our proposals (by Paris arrondissements) on Yummy Paris. Affordable restaurants in Paris 5 but also Paris bistros or Paris street food. This is a living page which we are continuously “feeding” with our Parisian friends’ suggestions. Come back to Yummy Paris from time to time to read the newest additions.
WHERE TO STAY IN PARIS 5
On “Where to Stay in Paris” section we like to propose our top options in each price bracket (budget hotels in Paris, mid-range hotels in Paris and luxury hotels in Paris) for a specific district of Paris. Staying in the Latin Quarter, Paris is not that expensive compared to other districts around. These are our best hotels in Latin Quarter Paris, hope you will like them! You can see on this link all the hotel options for Paris 5
NB: The same hotel may be in two different price brackets depending on the kind of room you choose.
Hotel La Lanterne has an excellent location (between Notre Dame and Luxembourg Gardens), attractive rooms and some great facilities like spa, pool or a cute private garden. Perfect to finish your exploring days in a more relaxing way.
Close to Luxembourg Gardens, we find its design pretty cool, with all those eyes looking at you, lol. But of course, it is not all about design: its French Brasserie, modern facilities and cool staff complete the pack.
Great location, nice (Haussmannian) architecture and atmosphere. Hotel Minerve Paris proposes modern rooms individually decorated and a good breakfast to kick off your exploring day. This is a convenient hotel at a reasonable price
SHORT TERM RENTAL PARIS
Hotels are still the most popular option to rest your head at the end of the day but if you dream of living the Paris lifestyle, then an apartment is the best way to get a feel for the local atmosphere. We are talking about enjoying your Parisian holiday in the comfort of your own Paris furnished apartment, regardless of the length of your stay.
WANT TO EXPLORE BEYOND PARIS 5?
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