Traveling to Paris is a dream for many or a beloved place to return to for others. It is the most visited city in the world with a wealth of options for accommodation and sights to see. However, sometimes with a plurality of options comes difficulties in making an informed decision about where to stay. These guides on Parisian neighborhoods hopefully will allow you to make that decision properly and get the most out of your trip. First up is the Latin Quarter, Paris, neighborhood guide!
Pro Tip: It’s easier to organize your trip when you have all your resources in one place. Create a browser folder and bookmark this post along with our dedicated guide to Paris and the Eiffel Tower to help you plan your trip. Also, check out our article on the best Paris tours.
Where is The Latin Quarter, Paris
The Latin Quarter of Paris is a fairly vaguely defined area covering parts of the 5th and 6th arrondissements. Consisting of the hill of Saint Genevieve, topped by the Pantheon. Bounded by the boulevard Saint Michel on one side and the Seine on the other side. It lies just south of the Ile de la Cité home of Notre Dame Cathedral. It is a neighborhood whose history is intimately tied to education, which is, of course, where the name of the neighborhood comes from. From the medieval language of instruction at the University of Paris. Latin!
In today’s Latin Quarter, what you will find is a buzzing area, especially up on the hill around the Pantheon. Behind this major sight, you can find the streets of Rue Descartes and Rue Mouffetard, which offer some of the most genuine quality eateries in the city.
Down below the hill in between the Boulevard Saint Germain and the river is Saint-Michel. While this part of the Latin Quarter has some cool sights to see (which I have spoken about a bit further down), the restaurants you will find here are, for the most part, some of the most touristy in the city. Your aim in Paris is, with some exceptions, to get yourself away from the major sites like Notre Dame for a great culinary experience!
For those looking for history, culture, and a buzzing atmosphere, the Latin Quarter is for you.
Best Hotels in the Latin Quarter
- Hanging out with Voltaire: Hôtel Les Dames du Panthéon
- Central Stay with a Bookshop: Hôtel Parc Saint-Séverin
- Boutique Hotel Close to Everything: Maison Colbert
- A Garden in Paris!: Hotel des Grandes Ecoles
- One of the Best Views in Paris: Les Rives de Notre-Dame
Top Things to See In The Latin Quarter
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our article on the Best Tours to Take in Paris and Why
Top Things to See in the Latin Quarter: Well-Known and Not.
1. Explore the Bookshops and Literary History of the Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter is home to the University of Paris, the third oldest university in Europe (some people dispute this, by the way, but historians are always arguing). For centuries this attracted some of the greatest minds to the neighborhood. People from Thomas Aquinas to Marie Curie have graced its streets. Combine with this thriving literary scene, it has attracted writers of all shapes to come. James Joyce. Ernest Hemingway. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Including so many more who have lived here. As a result, they need books!
The most famous bookshop in the city is in the Latin Quarter, in the shape of Shakespeare and Company. It has connections to the writers of the Lost Generation from the 1920s as well as connections with the Beats of the 1950s. It has been through two incarnations, but the original one was set up by a lady from Baltimore called Sylvia Beach in 1919. The current incarnation (granted the name in the 1950s by Beach) was set up by George Whitman. His daughter still runs it.
There is, however, always a line outside of this bookshop, and it’s a major tourist draw. Go early or later in the evening, and you will have a better experience. Make sure to check out the Abbey Bookshop, just around the corner as well as San Francisco Books. Both of these are quality establishments and much quieter. Of course, running along the banks of the Seine are the Bouquinistes, selling books and pamphlets since before the French Revolution.
The Latin Quarter is the place to visit for all aspiring writers and literature enthusiasts for sure.
2. Pay Homage to French Heroes at the Pantheon
Apart from its many bookshops, the Latin Quarter is also home to some great museums and major sights. The most important of these is the Pantheon. The Pantheon houses the remains of the citizen heroes of France. It is basically the highest honor a citizen can attain to be buried inside. Here you will find Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Marie Curie. Louis Braille, who invented Braille, is interred with people like Josephine Baker and Voltaire. The list is a who’s who of interesting characters and well worth a visit.
3. Check Out the Latin Quarters Museums
Check out as well the Musée de Cluny, the medieval museum of the city. It has recently undergone a renovation which has made it an even better experience. While obviously, it takes a backseat to the behemoth museums of the Louvre and the Orsay, it is a fantastic experience. Whilst there, go and visit the ancient Roman bathhouse to explore Paris’s ancient past as well as see some of the most beautiful tapestries on earth. The Lady and the Unicorn series.
For those who have visited Paris before and want to see something a bit different, then the Musée de la préfecture de Police or the Police Museum is worth popping into. It’s free, and if you are feeling morbid, there you can have a look at an example of an icon of French history. La Guillotine.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our article on the Best Tours to Take in Paris and Why
4. Discover the Hidden Gems of the Latin Quarter, Paris
Saint Julien-le-Pauvre, is one of the oldest churches in the city, with a Romanesque vault (in a city of Gothic churches, this is fairly rare). It is home to the Greek Melkite Catholics, who have Greek Orthodox traditions but are in communion with the Pope in Rome. In the park is also the oldest tree in Paris! Planted in 1601.
Just around the corner from this church is the quite stunning late gothic church of Saint-Severin. It has gargoyles that are much older than those on Notre Dame (those were replaced in the 19th century) and some incredible interior decoration. They are presently restoring it to its former glory, and it is well worth popping into.
Towards the top of the hill, you can also find St Etienne du Mont. It contains the knuckle of Saint Genevieve, one of the patron saints of Paris as well as being the burial spot of the scientist Blaise Pascal. Have a look out the back door there, and you can see the remains of part of the old city wall, built in the late 12th century when Paris was basically only the Ile de la Cité and the hill of the Latin Quarter.
Our Best Guided Tours of Paris
Where to Stay in the Latin Quarter, Paris
Not exactly what you’re looking for? Check out the free Where to Stay in Paris Guide.
Hanging out with Voltaire
€€€ | Great view | 4 – Star | Perfect Location
This hotel has a great location in the Latin Quarter. As you will find on exploring the Latin Quarter, the best restaurants tend to be a bit further up the hill, away from the river and closer to the Pantheon. Overlooking the Pantheon not only gives you a fantastic view of one of the more impressive Parisian monuments but access to great restaurants. Also, imagine yourself sitting out on that balcony reading from any of the brilliant people who interred in the building. Voltaire is in there, and he apparently drank fifty cups of coffee a day. So you can sit and contemplate that fact while looking at his tomb with a cup of joe in hand.
Central Stay with a Bookshop
€€€ | Nice view | Centrally Located | 4 – Star
The Hôtel Parc Saint-Séverin is just overlooking the really lovely church of Saint-Séverin. The terrace offers pretty great views of this late Gothic wonder. It is located on a quieter medieval street just right in the heart of the buzz of Saint-Michel. This means it is super central, it would be less than a five-minute walk to the Notre-Dame Cathedral and also to Shakespeare and Company. Make sure you check out the Abbey Bookshop on the same street, set up by a guy from Toronto in 1989! Makes it the unofficial Canadian bookshop of Paris. Good choice for a sightseeing stay, with fairly small rooms, but that is to be expected in Paris.
Boutique Hotel Close to Everything
€€€€+ | Boutique | Recently Renovated | 5 – Star
Maison Colbert is a boutique hotel set inside a historic 19th-century bourgeois mansion. It is a 5-star hotel and part of the Meliá collection, so it has a price to match, but it has everything you would expect from that level. Honestly, for me, one of its main pluses is its location right beside Notre Dame. This means everything is within an easy walk, up into the Latin Quarter and the Pantheon or crossing the river towards the Marais. A great option at the higher end of the price range.
A Garden in Paris!
€€ | Great Value | Garden | 3 – Star
I really like this place. The rooms are serviceable and fairly small (again, getting huge rooms in Paris is not so common). However, it has a really nice location. It is on the same street where James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway used to live in the 1920s for literature lovers to visit. To go along with that, its location makes it a couple of minutes walk from the really charming Place de la Contrescarpe and Rue Mouffetard. It also has a garden! And a cat! Just a great option for a reasonable price.
One of the Best Views in Paris
€€€€ | Unbelievable View | Central | 4 – Star
This place pops up quite a lot on recommendations, and it’s not really surprising. The view from some of the rooms here is quite fantastic. Looking out the window to the right, you have the Notre Dame Cathedral in all its glory (its glory is being renovated at the moment). Looking out to the left and you can see the impressive police prefecture and down the river towards the Louvre Museum. It’s also a very good hotel with clean, comfortable rooms and close to everything in the city center. Maybe a little noisy in the morning with the road down below, but the view makes up for it. Really good option.
The Best Restaurants in the Latin Quarter, Paris
The Latin Quarter contains some great restaurants, quality bars, and a thriving jazz scene. While those looking for more upscale establishments may wish to head down towards Saint Germain, the Latin quarter offers one of the nicest atmospheres in the city for socializing. It, over the years, has attracted literati, musicians, actors, and even lowly blog writers like myself. Below I have listed some of my top restaurants to visit and some great jazz clubs and theaters to brighten up any evening in Paris. You can also check out the full and free guide to the Best Restaurants in the Latin Quarter.
The Fine Dining Restaurant
This restaurant is just off the Quai de la Tournelle (a favorite haunt for Hemingway to buy books from the Bouquinistes) and opened its doors in 2015. Its cuisine is French, with a strong Japanese influence, as the chef is Japanese. Excellent choice for those looking for a fine dining experience in the Latin Quarter. Alliance has one Michelin star, and I would not be surprised if it is on the way to more in the future.
A Restaurant for the Vegetarian
Paris traditionally is not the best spot in the world for vegetarians. Steak tartare. Boeuf Bourguignon. Hardly a vegetarian’s dream. This is changing somewhat, and more options are available. So why not go to (what they claim at least) to be the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the city? Literal steps away from the river banks overlooking the Cathedral, this restaurant maintains a really great quality and variety of veggie dishes. Definitely recommended, and still one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the city.
The Best Historic Restaurant
Does anyone feel like dining in a building dating back to at least the 16th century? Well, I do, and this place is great. It is actually built on ancient Roman foundations, and the current restaurant was opened in the building in 1962. Nowadays, it offers French classics in a cozy setting with exposed wooden beams. A really nice place. They have a terrace for the summer, but if you happened to be exploring Paris in the winter to avoid the crowds, then this offers an inviting, warm place to sink into and enjoy. Fantastic!
The Best Jazz Club in the Latin Quarter
For jazz aficionados, this place needs little introduction. It is one of the most famous jazz clubs in a city with some great options. Briefly featured in the film La La Land, it has attracted visitors from all over and continues to attract numerous locals. A really nice experience in an atmospheric environment. It is housed in a building with some fairly bloody French Revolutionary history, which you can explore! One of the most genuine and fun nights out in the city and one of my top recommendations in the Latin Quarter.
Best Theatre in the Latin Quarter
Just up the road from the Caveau de la Huchette is the really curious and fun Théâtre de la Huchette. It has been playing the same two plays by Eugene Ionesco, the absurdist Romanian playwright, since 1957. While I can imagine absurdist theatre is not for everyone, this makes for a really fun and weirdly unique evening. On a Wednesday evening, they project English subtitles above the stage. Not that that will help you really understand what is going on (it is absurd, after all). If you don’t speak French and you want an even more absurd evening, go and see it without the subtitles. You will emerge confused and charmed regardless of which option you choose!
Map Of the Latin Quarter, Paris
The Latin Quarter lies just south of the Ile de la Cité. It is bounded by the river to the north, the Jardin des Plantes to the East, and the boulevard Saint Michel to the West. Further south lies the neighborhood of Montparnasse. In the Latin Quarter, you will find numerous public transport options, including the Metro lines 4, 7, 10, and the RER B. Buses run regularly through the neighborhood, and it is a short walk to Saint Germain and a 45-minute walk or 10-minute taxi ride to the Eiffel Tower.
Our Partnership with Booking.com. If you like our content, please book by clicking our Booking.com links. The price is the same for you, and we get a small commission that helps support our blog. We’ve partnered with Booking.com because they have the most options, great prices, and a solid loyalty program. Almost every hotel is on Booking, so our recommendations are genuine.