Perched on the left bank of the Seine, the Latin Quarter is packed with restaurants, cafés and bars, making it one of Paris’ premier spots for nightlife. Nonetheless, the area has a more cerebral, artistic side. The site of the city’s first university and home of the Sorbonne, the area has always been a home to students from across Europe. There’s still a huge student presence, and the bistros buzz with a carefree joie de vivre.
At the heart of the Latin Quarter is the Sorbonne, the historic home of the University of Paris. Where once you would have heard students and academics speaking Latin (hence the name of the district) today you’re more likely to hear impassioned political debate on the nearby café terraces.
The neoclassical colonnades of the Panthéon are just a short walk from the Sorbonne. Once a Catholic church, this spectacular domed building was converted into a grand secular cathedral after the Revolution. This is where France honours its greatest citizens – inside you’ll find the tombs of Voltaire, Rousseau and Victor Hugo alongside heroes of the French Resistance.
One of Paris’ finest parks, the Jardin du Luxembourg, straddles the border between the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Visitors can stroll through the picturesque gardens, or catch one of the park’s many free exhibitions.The Latin Quarter is well-known for its restaurants and bars. There are plenty of bistros where you can have a quick meal – this is a student area, after all – but explore a little and you’ll find some of Paris’ finest cuisine.