Explore the mythical Latin Quarter of Paris with an expert local guide, and marvel at some of the best 360° views of the city! Home of writers and scholars, this vibrant and eclectic neighborhood is old Paris at it’s best. Walk in the footsteps of the iconic writers and poets of the Lost Generation, discover winding cobbled streets, quirky bookshops, lively cafés and art-house cinemas, and enjoy the finest views over Notre Dame and this very special part of the city from the top of the mighty Pantheon.
For centuries the Latin Quarter has been home to the thinkers and intellectuals of France. Largely untouched by the sweeping renovations of Baron Haussmann, our local Parisian guide will take you on an insider stroll around one of the oldest and most atmospheric neighborhoods of Paris.
You’ll discover the heart of the Quartier Latin with the bohemian quarter of Mouffetard and the delightful Place de la Contrescarpe, often filled with glorious outdoor food markets - Julia Child’s favorites! These charming streets were also the haunt of the Lost Generation of writers, poets and artists who lived and wrote in Paris, immortalizing their lives here in print. Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, TS Eliot and others found their inspiration here, making Paris of the 1920’s the artistic center of the world. Later in the tour you’ll see the mythical bookstore Shakespeare and Company - the original store was the gathering place for literary legends described by Hemingway in A Moveable Feast and where James Joyce’s Ulysses was first published. Aspiring writers (or ‘Tumbleweeds’) can still stay here for free, as long as they work a few hours a week in the shop, write a single page autobiography for the archives and read a book a day!
We’ll also take you to the top of the majestic Pantheon. Sitting high upon a hill overlooking the Latin Quarter, the Pantheon guards the remains of France’s most venerable men and women, the ‘Grands Hommes’ - Victor Hugo, Zola, Voltaire and most recently Simone Veil are interred within this magnificent building. We’ll go behind the scenes, with pre-reserved entry, and take you up the spiraling stone stairs to the exterior of the enormous dome, for spectacular views across the Latin Quarter and the very best views over Notre Dame Cathedral. You’ll have a bird’s eye view of the ongoing renovations. Stretching as far as the Eiffel Tower and Montmartre, Paris is laid out before you in all her beauty.
We’ll then head down towards the river, past the exquisite, historic Church of St Etienne du Mont (film lovers may recognize the steps in front from Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris). Away from the tourist traps, discover the real Latin Quarter, with quiet tree-lined streets and pretty squares roamed by cats and stylish students. You’ll see the Sorbonne: founded in 1237 it’s one of the oldest and most famous universities in Europe. The nearby Cluny Museum houses the luminous 15th century tapestry The Lady and the Unicorn, as well as 3rd century baths built by the Gallo Romans.
We’ll end our exploration close to the iconic Cathedral of Notre Dame. Ravaged by fire in April 2019, she still stands proudly, thanks to the mastery of her 13th century builders, and we’ll witness the ongoing restoration as she turns this next page of her long history.
At the end of your tour you may like to stop for lunch in one of the local cafés of the neighborhood, or continue your explorations of this fascinating area. Your guide will be happy to offer tips and suggestions to ensure you enjoy the best of this both legendary and typical part of Paris.