PARIS 5 IN A NUTSHELL
The 5th Arrondissement is one of the oldest Paris districts. It is here where the Roman city Lutecia (IC AD) developed along its Cardus Maximus, the present Rue Saint Jacques. Like all the Roman cities, Lutecia had a forum (current Rue Soufflot), a couple of baths (Roman thermae) and even an amphitheater known today as Les Arènes de Lutèce. You probably know about France’s km 0, located in front of Notre Dame. Lutecia ‘s km 0 was somewhere between 172-174 rue S. Jacques.
Apart from Lutecia ‘s Roman layout of streets and main public spaces, another thing that defined Paris 5’s topography was the Bièvre river. Bièvre river 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 this river.
The Latin Quarter and its students
The 5th arrondissement is also called the Latin Quarter. The name comes from Lutecia ‘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 5 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 5 Like a Local. This time there is a lot of history behind . .
TOURIST PLACES IN PARIS 5
No surprises here: you can find all these places on all the guidebooks about Paris so no article talking about this Paris arrondissement would be complete without these Paris tourist places. If you are visiting Paris for the first time, you will like to visit some of them. They are very touristy but beautiful !
Arènes de Lutèce ( Lutecia ‘s Roman amphitheater)
Grande Galerie de l’Évolution
Institut du Monde Arabe
Cluny Museum (Museum of Middle Ages)
BEST THINGS TO SEE IN PARIS 5 (AMAZING OR QUIRKY SIGHTS)
Some of them are part of tourist sights, some of them are hidden gems. This is our personal list of best things to see in Paris 5th arrondissement if you want to know Paris 5 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
BEST THINGS TO DO IN PARIS 5
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. These are in our opinion the best things to do in Paris 5 like a local.
Have a blast among dinosaurs and other beasts – at Grande Galerie de l’Evolution
Visit Lutecia’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 an Historical Monument (Art Déco)
Enjoy a book in a quiet and medieval atmosphere – at Jardin Médiéval, next to Cluny Museum
Loose 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
WHERE TO EAT IN PARIS 5 LIKE A LOCAL
Foodies will love colorful rue de Mouffetard, with endless delicacies shops, street food and little bistrots.
Check our proposals of best places to eat in Paris (by Paris arrondissement) on Yummy Paris . This is a living page which we are continuously “feeding” with our Parisian friends’ suggestions so we recommend you to come back from time to time to check 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 for a specific Paris arrondissement. These are our picks for Paris 5th Arrondissement, hope you will like them! You can also click on the following link to check 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 proposes modern rooms individually decorated and a good breakfast to kick off your exploring day. This is a convenient hotel at a reasonable price
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