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Introducing the 6th Arrondissement of Paris
From the river Seine in the north to Boulevard de Montparnasse in the south, the 6th Arrondissement of Paris is the chic district of the historic neighborhoods of Luxembourg and Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
The sixth Arrondissement of Paris is well known for its revolutionary intellectualism, elegant houses, cute cafes, and antique shops. This is one of the most emblematic districts of Paris and one of the tourists’ favorite places for a stroll, a coffee, or dining out.
The 6th Arrondissement is divided into 4 neighborhoods: Monnaie, Odéon, Notre-Dame-des-Champs, and Saint-Germain-des-Près.
St-Germain-des-Prés: from Village Outside Paris to Intellectuals’ Favorite Haunt
Originally, St-Germain-des-Prés was a village located beyond the outskirts of early medieval Paris. The whole area belonged to the independent Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Germain, which had its own houses and also stables, chapels, cloisters, and prison. Later, other religious congregations (Cordeliers, Carmelites . .) also founded an establishment in Saint-Germain-des-Près.
With the increasing number of university students in Paris, the Latin Quarter extended to the St-Germain neighborhood, and many universities and cultural centers like the National School of Fine Arts and Collège des 5 Nations established in the area. Following these educational institutions, many bookshops and publishing houses also opened in St-Germain-des-Prés, contributing to the district’s intellectual (and later revolutionary) atmosphere.
During the French Revolution, the Abbey of Saint Germain was closed down by the revolutionary Assembly and used for gunpowder storage. Unfortunately, an explosion in 1794 destroyed most of the abbey’s buildings, and only the monastic church and the abbatial palace survived.
A New Golden Age for Saint-Germain-des-Prés
After the Second World War in Paris, St-Germain-des-Prés became a center of intellectual and cultural life in Paris, with the presence of promising writers and artists like Marguerite Duras, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, François Truffaut, Picasso, Giacometti, Ernest Hemingway, and many more. All these cool people liked to wander around the Saint-Germain neighborhood and enjoy its particular atmosphere and a good intellectual discussion at Café Les Deux Magots or Café de Flore.
At night, philosophers, authors, and artists mixed in breweries and smoky nightclubs, where existentialist philosophy coexisted with American jazz. The 6th Arrondissement of Paris was the home of much of the major post-war intellectual and literary movements such as existentialism, surrealism, and modern feminism.
From the beginning of the 70s, the reputation of St-Germain neighborhood attracted international tourism, who gradually transformed the district with their money. Luxury boutiques and art galleries established in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the price of real estate increased considerably, with prohibited prices for locals.
Consequently, many bookstores, printers, and small shops had to close and the headquarters of major publishing houses and universities had to move to other parts of Paris. Today the intellectual prestige of the 6th District of Paris has vanished and Saint-Germain has lost its soul forever. However, the beautiful 17th-century architecture and a couple of iconic sites still remain and Saint-Germain is still a beautiful place for a stroll or a night out.
The District of the Luxembourg Gardens
In the 17th century, the areas around the Church of Saint-Sulpice and the church of Saint-André des Arts were urbanized. Queen Marie de Médicis bought an estate in this area to build the Luxembourg Palace (today the seat of the French Senate) surrounded by magnificent gardens. The new Palais de Luxembourg turned the neighborhood into a fashionable district for French nobility, who moved to the 6th Arrondissement and built beautiful private mansions.
After the Revolution, the Luxembourg Gardens became a public garden. Today the Luxembourg Gardens are one of Paris’ main attractions and a popular place for a stroll in the 6th District of Paris.
Without any further ado, let’s check the most interesting things to see and do in the beautiful 6th Arrondissement of Paris.
Top Things to Do in the 6th Arrondissement
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1- Church of Saint-Germain-des-Près – The church is the only remaining of the Abbey of Saint Germain which was destroyed during the French Revolution. Founded in the 6th century by the Merovingian King Childebert I, it is also the only remaining of the Romanesque buildings in Paris. The choir was built later in the gothic style.
2- Musée National Eugène Delacroix – The museum occupies part of the painter’s last apartment where he died. Learn about his life and work and visit his workshop which opens onto a beautiful private garden.
3- Relax at the Luxembourg Gardens – this is a pleasant and elegant garden adjacent to the Luxembourg Palace. It has a beautiful pond, many sculptures, and it is a great place for reading a book or a picnic in the grass.
4- Church of Saint Sulpice – Built in the 17th century, with foundations from the 12th century, the Church of Saint Sulpice is one of the sites in Paris where the ‘Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown was filmed. Located in a beautiful square in the heart of Saint-Germain neighborhood, the church – one of the biggest in Paris – has a beautiful façade with its two recognizable towers and beautiful mural paintings by Delacroix inside.
Unique Things to Do in the 6th District of Paris
In 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 districts of Paris, there are many unique things to see and do in the sixth Arrondissement, beyond the classic stroll around the Luxembourg Gardens or St-Germain-des-Près.
Below, the list of unique things to do in the 6th Arrondissement of Paris we believe you shouldn’t miss:
5- Musée Zadkine – Tucked away in the greenery of a sculpture-filled garden near the Luxembourg Gardens, the Musée Zadkine was the home and workshop of Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967) a Russian sculptor and a major figure at the Ecole de Paris. It offers a beautiful collection of his work and a glimpse of an artist’s everyday life in the Paris of the first half of the 20th century.
6- Cour vitrée at the National School of Fine Arts – a stunning neoclassical architecture in the world’s oldest school of Fine Arts.
7- Rue de Furstenberg – this is a nice street /square with a small-town feeling. The Musée Eugène Delacroix is located on this street.
8- Bibliothèque Mazarine – This is the oldest public library in France and a wonder for book lovers. It is part of the Institut de France, the former Collège des Quatre-Nations built by Cardinal Mazarin in the 17th century.
9- The marble Meter Standard – placed in 1796, it helped Parisians to get used to the new metric system. Only two original standards survive and this one is at 36, rue Vaugirard in Paris 6.
10- The Meridian Lines – In the 6th District of Paris there are two meridian lines located at 11 Quai de Conti (vertical) and inside the Church of Saint Sulpice.
11- La Vierge du Sourire – rare to find, the ‘Vierges Parisiennes’ are easily recognizable by their characteristic smile. There is a beautiful (unfinished) example at the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Best Restaurants in the Sixth Arrondissement Paris
In the 6th Arrondissement of Paris, there is a good choice of restaurants of all kinds and budgets proposing good French cuisine.
Don’t you know where to find the best restaurants in the 6th Arrondissement? Here, some of the best restaurants in Paris 6 proposing good French cuisine.
» Le Colvert Bistrot – 54 rue Saint-André des Arts, 75006 Paris. This charming restaurant with a bistro atmosphere has a good location at rue St-André-des-Arts, close to St-Michel and Odéon. The service is top, and their menu is always good and varied, with original and well-presented bistro dishes.
» Javette – 20 rue Dauphine, 75006 Paris. This new restaurant in Saint-Germain is good and beautiful! We love the decoration and general atmosphere of this restaurant which proposes classic dishes of French cuisine prepared with fresh and quality produce.
» Crêperie L’Atelier Artisan Crêpier – Mabillon – 10 rue Mabillon, 75006 Paris. This is one of our favorite crêperies in Paris, the kind of place we like to go from time to time. The decoration is contemporary and the service is always top. They propose good and copious dishes of crêpes and galettes washed down with good cider. For dessert, don’t miss the crêpe Joséphine, my favorite!
Click here for more restaurants in Paris 6
Hotels in the 6th Arrondissement Paris
The 6th Arrondissement of Paris is one of the favorite districts to stay in, with a good choice of beautiful boutique hotels and a few luxury hotels.
Generally speaking, the hotels in the 6th District of Paris tend to be more expensive than in other areas of the city and it’s hard to find quality budget hotels (-100€ /night) in the sixth Arrondissement.
Booking.com is the best site for booking hotels in Paris. They have good rates and a huge selection of hotels of all kinds plus it is possible to cancel for free if, in the end, you cannot make it to Paris.
Click here for the best hotels in Paris 6Booking.com
HOTEL LUTETIA; Paris 6, $$$$
The Hotel Lutetia is one of the most beautiful historic hotels in Paris and also the most famous hotel in the Left Bank, visited by several local and international celebrities.
Hotel Lutetia was Paris’ first Art Deco hotel and today many of these original features can still be seen such as the grand revolving door. The Art Deco style is continued in the 184 guest rooms and each one contains a flat-screen, Wi-Fi, minibar, and marble bathrooms with deep marble tubs.
Click here for the Latest Prices
RELAIS CHRISTINE: Paris 6, $$$
This hotel set in a 16th-century private mansion is one of the top choices in the heart of the Saint-Germain neighborhood. All the rooms are unique, and they are designed and furnished in different styles. The hotel also boasts classy common spaces, a garden, a spa, and a fitness center.
Click here for the Latest Prices
CHAPLAIN PARIS RIVE GAUCHE: Paris 6, $$
Hotel Chaplain Paris Rive Gauche is one of the best mid-range hotels in Paris 6. Chic and modern it is located only a few meters from the Luxembourg Gardens. The hotel rooms are fancy and colorful and it has a chic dining area and a floral courtyard, where you can take your breakfast or a drink.
Click here for the Latest Prices
SHORT TERM RENTALS IN PARIS 6
Hotels are still the most popular option in Paris but if you dream of living the Parisian lifestyle, then an apartment is the best way to get a feel for the local atmosphere. Enjoy Paris in the comfort of your own Paris furnished apartment, regardless of the length of your stay.
Click here for the best Apartments in Paris 6
6th Arrondissement of Paris Directory
Church of Saint-Germain-des-Près: place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, 75006 Paris
Musée National Eugène Delacroix: 6 rue de Furstenberg, 75006 Paris
The Luxembourg Gardens: 75006 Paris
Church of Saint Sulpice: 2 rue Palatine, 75006 Paris
Musée Zadkine: 100bis rue d’Assas, 75006 Paris
National School of Fine Arts: 14 rue Boaparte, 75006 Paris
Bibliothèque Mazarine: 23 quai de Conti, 75006 Paris
The marble Meter Standard: 36 rue Vaugirard, 75006 Paris
The Meridian Lines: in the courtyard of Palais de la Monnaie at 11 Quai de Conti (vertical), and inside the Church of Saint Sulpice, 75008 Paris
La Vierge du Sourire: inside the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, 75006 Paris
Want to Explore Beyond Paris 6?
Click here for Other District Guides
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Sandy N Vyjay10/19/2017 at 2:33 pm
Loved reading the details of the the 6th Arrondissement of Paris. I am really fascinated by St. Germains. What a time it must have been when intellectual conversations flowed and the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and Piccaso frequented the area. This area truly seems to represent the spirit of Paris.
WorldInParis11/18/2017 at 10:25 pm
Yes, it must have been a great time for Saint Germain but unfortunately this time and spirit vanished long time ago 🙁
Mei and Kerstin10/17/2017 at 4:37 am
Ah! Every time we read your posts, we miss Paris like hell! Haha.. the Quartier Latin was where we spent most of our time during the first 6-7 years of our life in Paris. We lived in the 7th arrondissement, but went to the Quartier Latin every day since we studied at Paris 1 and Paris 4, and later worked at several Publishers around Odéon. You’re right to say that the intellectual prestige of the 6e arrondissement is vanished nowadays, but the beautiful façades, some coffeeshops and several bookstores (there are less and less interesting ones unfortunately) still make us return there. Maybe for old time’s sake… so thank you for sharing this post that makes us all nostalgic! 🙂
WorldInParis10/19/2017 at 7:50 pm
You are right, only the beauty stays!
Beverley10/16/2017 at 8:37 pm
We are planning to head to Paris for 4 days at the end of this month so this great for us to plan where to go other than the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre. What has court our eye in Paris 6 is the Church of Saint Sulpice, as the church has remained the same but the area around it has urbanized.
WorldInParis10/19/2017 at 7:51 pm
Unfortunately there are lots of restoration works inside right now so you won’t see it as its best 🙁
Michelle W10/16/2017 at 8:34 pm
This gives a great background and introduction to this expensive neighborhood, I loved hearing about its history. How unfortunate that a lot of the historical buildings blew up from the gunpowder storage though!! Also it’s a bit sad to think that it has “lost its soul” over the years, but at least it still looks beautiful and lively today. I would love to visit and try to challenge a local to chess at the Luxembourg Gardens too! I went to Paris in 2008 for 4 days, and haven’t been back since. I think now as an adult I would appreciate it more.
WorldInParis10/19/2017 at 7:53 pm
Hope you will have the opportunity to visit Paris again! And you are warned: the chess players of Luxembourg are really good!!
Paige W10/16/2017 at 9:22 am
I love that you’re breaking Paris into neighborhoods. Saint Germain + Luxembourg sound awesome. I didn’t make it here when I was in Paris, but I know I want to on my next trip there! Bibliothèque Mazarine sounds absolutely magical. I would love to visit there. I would LOVE a haute-patisserie tour!
Megan Jerrard10/16/2017 at 4:18 am
Saint Germain has quite the interesting history – very cool to read about how it’s evolved from a quaint village belonging to the abbey, to a cultural hub, and now one of the most chic and expensive centers of Paris. It’s said to hear that it’s lostit’s soul, but I’m glad to know that many of it’s iconic buildings and sites still remain as a testament to it’s history. I would love to sail a mini vintage wooden boat on the duck pond of Luxembourg Gardens, and wander around to take in some of its more historic sites.
Thanks for the history and tips on where to go in Paris 6.
WorldInParis10/19/2017 at 7:55 pm
And thanks for being a faithful reader, Meg! Yes, places like Cafe de Flore are still there: with tourists paying 15€ for a pint they have no intention to leave!
Lara Dunning10/16/2017 at 2:44 am
Every time I read one of your articles I want to go to Paris even more than before. I would love to visit the Luxembourg Gardens. I also like your list of quirky sights, and I always appreciate hotel suggestions.
WorldInParis10/19/2017 at 7:56 pm
So so! Time to same some money and come to see us, I would say . . .
Skye Class10/15/2017 at 10:01 pm
I still can’t believe that in three years of traveling the world, I’ve yet to explore Paris. This is a great guide, and it seems to be a little more off the beaten path, if you could call it that in one of the most visited cities in the world. The bookstore and boat ride sound fun, and I would mind a game of chess in the park.
Fiona Maclean10/15/2017 at 4:00 pm
I think the 6ieme is my favourite district in Paris. I’ve stayed at Relais Christine and a number of other boutique hotels in the 6th and 7th. And I love les deux magot for people watching. Thanks for a summary of one of my favourite parts of Paris
Christine | The Traveloguer10/15/2017 at 12:34 pm
There’s so much to see in Paris, I love reading these posts to find out about all the wonderful places there are to explore in Paris. I’d love to see the Bibliothèque Mazarine 🙂
WorldInParis11/18/2017 at 10:23 pm
You would love Bibliothèque Mazarine but please note that unless you are studying very specific subjects it is only open to general public during very special occasions. I visited it during the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine, usually the third weekend of September
Danik10/15/2017 at 10:37 am
My favourite part of area 6 is strolling around in the Jardin du Luxembourg on a warm sunday afternoon (hopefully when its not too crowded). Havent checked out the Mazarine Library yet, would love to check out those books.
Carmen Edelson10/15/2017 at 5:46 am
You are my go-to blog for Paris!! I love Saint-Germain, thanks for all the info. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Mike10/15/2017 at 3:42 am
This is such a wonderful guide! Thank you for sharing. The Bibliothèque Mazarine sounds like my kind of place all full of ancient books 🙂
WorldInParis10/15/2017 at 9:01 am
Great that you liked the guide, Mike. Unfortunately Bibliothèque Mazarine is open to “mortals” only in rare occasions. I could visit it during the Journées du Patrimoine this year
Kavita Favelle | Kavey Eats10/14/2017 at 5:30 pm
Great post on the sixth, particularly love the history that places it into context. It’s changed a lot in the 25+ years I’ve been visiting — in the 1980s tourism had grown a lot but it was still kind of Bohemian, certainly still budget friendly, and still had that artistic vibe going on. You are right that now the luxury hotels (and higher prices have moved in) but I think there’s still a lot of charm and quirkiness to those, and many are more modern luxury rather than the very old school gold and bling ones. Still love visiting!
Jenn10/14/2017 at 1:25 pm
Thanks so much for all these great suggestions! I was in Paris last year but for just a few days so didn’t get to really explore much. Next time I go back, I’ll be sure to check out the Bibliothèque Mazarine since I love books and definitely try the patisserie tour 🙂
WorldInParis02/25/2018 at 2:53 pm
Beware that Bibliothèque Mazarine is open to general public only during special occasions like Les Journées du Patrimoine 😉
Kristel10/14/2017 at 1:12 pm
A great place for tourists wanting to see Paris off the beaten path aside from the tours that’s usually being offered. Hope to visit this place in 2018. Will definitely save this for future reference. 🙂