The Essential Travel Guide to Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris

What to do in Saint-Germain-des-Prés?

A former working-class neighborhood and hotbed for radical thought, today Saint-Germain-des-Prés is a stylish area full of delightful cafés, friendly bars, and layer upon layer of cultural history. Rivaling the neighboring Latin Quarter for intellectual energy, this famously non- conformist district has been home to revolutionaries, artists, jazz clubs, and existentialist philosophers. Yet modern gentrification has seen the quartier shed its outsider image to become one of the most desirable addresses in Paris.

My TOP 5 Highlights in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

  • Walk in the footsteps of revolutionaries – The cafés of Saint-Germain-des-Prés are steeped in history and character. Café Procope, Paris’ oldest, was frequented by revolutionaries and Napoleon. It is the perfect starting point for a tour of the streets that were a stomping ground for radical voices like the infamous Marat and Danton (13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006).
  • Soak up the inspiring ambience at the charming Musée National Eugène Delacroix – A marvelous array of niche museums pop up all over Paris, often housed in former homes or studios. Delacroix’s atelier is small but affecting, with a delightful garden to briefly transport you far from metropolitan Paris (6 Rue de Furstemberg, 75006).
  • Amble down the Cour du Commerce Saint André: Like stepping back in time, this slender street escaped the attention of Baron Haussmann in the 1800s. Accordingly, it retains the character and feel of medieval Paris. A magical journey back to a Paris that was meant to be forgotten.
  • Fill up on chocolates at Debauve & Gallais – Marie-Antoinette reputedly shopped here, presumably when she was tired of cake. This acclaimed chocolatier claims to be the oldest in Paris. And while that claim is disputed, the chocolates are indisputably heavenly (30 Rue des Saints-Pères, 75007).
  • Sagely discuss existentialism over a coffee in Café Les Deux Magots – Café Les Deux Magots (and nearby Café de Flore) were Jean-Paul-Sartre and Simone Beauvoir debated the purpose of life. They were following in the footsteps of personalities like Picasso and Brecht. Order a coffee, kick back and absorb the rarefied air for a moment (6 Pl. Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006).

General information about Saint-Germain-des-Prés

One of four districts in the 6th arrondissement on the left bank of the Seine, Saint- Germain-des-Prés is an affluent neighborhood. A small residential population — reportedly decreasing annually due to high property costs — is heavily outnumbered by visitors. Ideal for daytrippers and night owls, the numerous cafes, boutique shops, and upscale surroundings make this a safe and fun neighborhood to explore at any time of the day. As with all bustling tourist areas, the risk of pickpocketing is present, especially around the lively bars and cafés.

How to get to Saint-Germain-des-Prés?

Saint-Germain-des-Prés is served by three Métro stations:

  • Line 4: Saint-Germain-des-Prés (in the heart of the neighborhood), Saint-Sulpice
  • Line 10: Mabillon

Bus lines serving Saint-Germain-des-Prés:

  • 39, 70, 95, 96
  • My Tip: You can also reach the neighborhood very comfortably with one of the Hop on Hop off buses in Paris. These are also included in many Paris Sightseeing Passes, with which you can save money on sightseeing during your visit to Paris. Take a look!

Attractions, activities, and tours in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

A compact and vibrant neighborhood, Saint-Germain-des-Prés is ideal for exploring with a guidebook open while discovering hidden nooks and interesting backstories. It is also a fun place to unwind and enjoy the Parisian good life. We take a look at the unmissable attractions in the district.

Top attractions

In the neighborhood Saint-Germain-des-Prés there are many attractions that you should visit. You can find the best ones here.

  1. 01

    Cour du Commerce Saint André

    Street in Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés
    Our highlight
    Boulevard San-German with tables of cafe in Paris, France. Archi
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    This quaint throwback to medieval Paris dodged Haussmann’s modernization of Paris. A claustrophobic alley in the 6th arrondissement lined with shops and photo opportunities, it has a captivating bygone ambiance.

  2. 02

    Église de Saint Germain des Prés

    Religious Site in Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés
    Our highlight
    Interior of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church in Paris, France
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    Raised on the site of a 6th-century abbey in the 6th arrondissement, this is Paris’s oldest church and the final resting place of philosopher René Descartes. René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician and natural scientist. As the founder of modern rationalism, Descartes played an important role in the scientific revolution of the 17th century. In mathematics, he became known as the pioneer of analytic geometry.

  3. 03

    Monnaie de Paris

    Museum in Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés
    Our highlight
    collection monnaies antiques
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    The old mint of Paris is (mostly) a museum housing a vast collection of ancient and noteworthy coins. It still mints commemorative coins, making it the oldest working mint in the world. Technically in the Monnaie quartier but a fascinating diversion.

  4. 04

    Ponts des Arts

    Bridge in Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés
    Our highlight
    Pont des arts, Saint-Germain-des-Prés
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    Saint-Germain-des-Prés opens up onto three bridges across the Seine, each offering glorious views. They include the romantic Pont des Arts (engl. bridge of arts), once a place to declare your eternal amour with a padlock (a practice now banned to conserve structural integrity.) Lovers like to go to the Pont des Arts, which connects the left bank (6th arrondissement) of the Seine with the Louvre (1st arrondissement), to place their love lock there.

  5. 05

    Saint-Sulpice

    Religious Site in Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés
    Our highlight
    Saint-Germain-des-Prés, The Saint-Sulpice church in Paris, France
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    Although the area was once marshland, it was fertile ground for churches. The immense and attractive Église Saint-Sulpice in the 6th arrondissement is a 17th-century church built on 12th-century foundations. Starring in The Da Vinci Code (novel and movie) and home to a Delacroix fresco, it has plenty to recommend.

Best tours

There are many things to do in this district. Here you can find the best tours.

  1. 01

    Paris Prestige : Saint Germain Food Tour

    Walking Tour in Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés
    viator food tour saint germain
    Source: viator.com
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    Eat your way through the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district in the 6th arrondissement on this walking tour of the famous neighbourhood. You will visit a range of food shops and other hidden treasures with your expert food guide and a small group of no more than eight people. On this tour you can expect around 11 stops in various restaurants and cafés.

    Languages: English, Spanish, French

  2. 02

    Paris: Charming Nooks and Crannies Bike Tour

    Bike Tour in Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés
    getyourguide bike tour saint-germain-des-prés
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    Sweeping through several small but essential quartiers clustered on the left bank, this 3-hour bike tour promises to pack in all the local highlights while absorbing the chic ambiance of the lively streets. Discover the forever trendy central areas Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the Latin Quarter, Odéon and Luxembourg.

    Languages: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Dutch

  3. 03

    Saint Germain Mythical and Artistic Tour

    Walking Tour in Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés
    viator tour saint-germain-des-prés
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    With history seeping out from the cobblestones of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, some local knowledge can help reveal the secrets of this celebrated neighbourhood in the 6th arrondissement. Exciting sights mixed with fascinating stories will await you on this tour. Immerse yourself in the myth of Saint Germain des Pres. The following spots will be visited on this tour: Église de Saint Germain des Prés, Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore, Rue de Furstemberg, Rue de Seine, Rue Dauphine and Le Procope.

    Languages: English, French

Eating & drinking in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Saint-Germain-Des-Prés is a magnetic for foodies and fans of authentic Parisian cafés. A spirited place to eat during the day, the area bursts with life at night. It can get a little touristy and expensive, so we have selected some neighborhood pearls to help you navigate the endless choices.

Top restaurants

  1. 01 Café Procope

    Claiming to be one of the oldest restaurants in the world, this brasserie is a place of legend and myth in the 6th arrondissement. Former patrons include Marie Antionette, Napoleon, and a roll- call of intellectual giants who once hung out there.

  2. 02 Restaurant Au Coup De Torchon

    An understated, traditional bistro, located in the 6th arrondissement, with a short menu of dishes built around French classics.

  3. 03 Restaurant Freddy's

    Tucked away amongst the surrounding shops and restaurants is the popular Freddy’s. A fun and homely tapas bar ideal for enjoying the bubbling nightlife of Saint-Germain-Des-Prés.

  4. 04 Restaurant La Diva-des-Prés

    Embracing warm colors and bright flowers, this stylish brasserie in the 6th arrondissement offers crowd-pleasing brunches and mains, high spirits, and oodles of character.

  5. 05 Restaurant La Rhumerie

    Sometimes overlooked in French cuisine is the influence of her overseas départements. This airy bistro in the 6th arrondissement serves up Caribbean mains and sharing plates, alongside a superb selection of rhum (rum) best enjoyed after sunset.

The most beautiful cafés

From a philosophical hangout to one of the chicest neighborhoods in Paris, Saint- Germain-Des-Prés is home to some of the most notable cafés in Paris. We’ve picked out a selection of the best cafés in Saint-Germain-Des-Prés.

  1. 01 Café de Flore

    One café was not enough to contain the celebrities frequenting Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Almost next door to Café Les Deux Magots is Café de Flore, which rivals its neighbor for illustrious patrons of yesteryear. Even older and just as full of character, this renowned café makes the odd cameo on film and tv. Another must-visit café, even if you’re leaking coffee by this point.

  2. 02 Café La Palette

    An old-style café in the 6th arrondissement with a busy terrace. Doubling as a solid place to eat and a great place for cocktails, this place comes to life at night.

  3. 03 Café Ladurée – Bonaparte

    It’s a debate that cannot be settled, but Ladurée arguably makes the best macarons in Paris. If you want to join the debate, this comfortable outpost of the exclusive chain is designed for lingering moments of indulgence. One of the stores in Paris is located in the 6th arrondissement.

  4. 04 Café Les Deux Magots

    Meeting place for Simone Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, patronized by literary greats like Hemingway and Camus, Café Les Deux Magots is one of the best-known cafés in Paris in the 6th arrondissement. You can take a seat in the café once frequented by intellectual heavyweights, which adds to the wonderment.

  5. 05 Café Saint Pearl

    Behind a tiny terrace sits a snug nook serving hearty brunches and proper coffee in the 6th arrondissement of Paris.

Shopping in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

With some of Paris’s most valuable real estate, the shops in Saint-Germain-Des- Prés lean towards designer boutiques, fine foods, and antique shops. Here are some of the stores that visitors head to.

The finest art galleries and museums in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Boasting the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) plus the home of romantic painter Eugène Delacroix, there is artistic pedigree in Saint-Germain-Des-Prés. But with so many world-famous galleries stealing the limelight nearby, this small residential area is only home to tiny working galleries and a couple of specialist museums. Here’s our pick of the finest.

  1. collection monnaies antiques

    01 Monnaie de Paris

    The old mint of Paris is (mostly) a museum housing a vast collection of ancient and noteworthy coins. It still mints commemorative coins, making it the oldest working mint in the world. Technically in the Monnaie quartier but a fascinating diversion.

  2. PARIS, FRANCE – JANUARY 11: Escutcheon representing the fine art

    02 Beaux-arts de Paris

    The École des Beaux-Arts hosts expositions and events throughout the year from up-and-coming artists in their impressive halls. Look out for special days when the school is open to the public.

  3. 03 Galerie LOFT

    Visitors adore this little gallery for its fresh and eye-catching exhibitions.

  4. 04 La Hune - Librairie Galerie

    Walls filled with eye-catching photos and art books help make this a relaxed and intriguing gallery.

The most beautiful hotels in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Saint-Germain-Des-Prés is a pricey neighborhood. Chic establishments in a super-desirable quartier see value-seekers head to nearby districts like Montparnasse. But for travelers who want to stay in this fashionable district, there are some excellent hotels worth paying a premium.

  1. booking Hotel Da vinci Saint germain
    Source: booking.com

    01 Hôtel Da Vinci

    4 Stars| An understated exterior hides one of the most magical hotels in Saint-Germain- Des-Prés. A graceful pool, spa, and Da Vinci themed rooms all finished with a touch of panache make this hotel a consistent hit with guests.

  2. booking hotel artus saint germain
    Source: booking.com

    02 Hotel Artus

    4 Stars| With artistic flair, this bright, clean, and airy hotel in the 6th arrondissement is a popular base right in the heart of the action.

  3. booking Hotel des saints peres saint germain
    Source: booking.com

    03 Hôtel des Saints-Peres

    4 Stars| Summoning the spirit of France, this is another resplendent 4-star hotel in the 6th arrondissement hidden behind an unassuming yet elegant entrance. The star of this hotel is the leafy courtyard, an oasis from city life.

  4. booking Hotel Fougere saint Germain
    Source: booking.com

    04 Hôtel Fougère

    4 Stars| This new boutique hotel in the 6th arrondissement is fast establishing a loyal list of patrons. Guests love the individually styled rooms, comfortable lounge with fireplace, and exceptional breakfasts.

  5. booking hotel la villa saint germain
    Source: booking.com

    05 Hotel La Villa Saint-Germain

    4 Stars| As the name suggests, this hotel is located in Saint-Germain-des-Pres in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. Individually decorated rooms, a super-convenient location, and highly-praised staff help this boutique hotel stand out.

History & Facts about Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Starting life as flooded plains, Saint-Germain-des-Prés partly takes its name from the fields (prés) it was known for. Until the 17th century, the district was largely uninhabited, with one notable exception: the wealthy and influential Benedictine Abbey that had stood there since the 1540s. Named after the former bishop of Paris, Saint Germanus (aka, Saint Germain), the abbey was the center of a small community that would later become Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Moreover you can find one of the oldest churches in Paris in this district. The abbey was wealthy and hosted a huge annual fair with hundreds of stalls and a reputation for degeneracy.

The church of Saint Germain des Pres can be glimpsed between the houses.

In 1672, the first café in Paris appeared at the fair. At the epicenter of Paris’s newly discovered love for coffee, Café Procope opened its doors in 1685. Voltaire, Napoleon, and many notable figures of the French Revolution frequented the café. It is the oldest café in Paris and a brasserie you can eat in today. The debauched fair did not survive the French Revolution. But by then, Saint-Germain-des-Prés was firmly part of Paris. The cafés and the arrival of a palace for a French Queen, Margaret of Valois, in the late 1600s transformed the neighborhood.

As the following century rose to a violent crescendo, Café Procope and cafés in the quartier became a febrile meeting place. Members of the nearby Club des Cordeliers frequented, including notorious revolutionary figures like Georges Danton and Jean-Paul Marat. Despite being reconstructed by Haussmann and gaining the École des Beaux-Arts, Saint-Germain-des-Prés would remain a working-class neighborhood that attracted radical thinkers. And, in later centuries, penniless philosophers and writers like Oscar Wilde.

A vein of non-conformism defined the neighborhood’s image throughout much of the 20th century. It was the place to find jazz clubs, late-night cafés, or discuss existentialism in the shadow of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone Beauvoir. And while that history of rebellion draws visitors today, the neighborhood has performed a 360 in recent years and become one of the chicest and most expensive districts in Paris.

Ariel view of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris.

FAQ

Is Saint-Germain-des-Prés easy to explore on foot?

Yes. It is a compact district of energetic streets, some pedestrianized, pleasant to explore by foot.

Do I need a map to explore Saint-Germain-des-Prés?

Helpful. Although you will not get lost. There are plenty of signs plus the Seine riverbank to guide you. It will help you find the local highlights in different parts of the quartier.

Is Saint-Germain-Des-Prés safe?

Yes – A chic arrondissement, there is little to trouble visitors. Popular with visitors, expect minimal hassle but take care of your belongings as pickpockets operate there.

Neighboring districts

Saint-Germain-Des-Prés sits in a sea of renowned quartiers and leading landmarks, many within walking distance. The banks of the Seine are north of the district, with the august Pont Neuf leading to Île de la Cité. Île de la Cité is France’s former royal island and home to Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle. Across the river is the world’s largest museum, Musée du Louvre, and the Tuileries Garden. Head northwest into the 7th arrondissement, you reach the magnificent Musée d’Orsay. Heading southwest in the same arrondissement you will find the fascinating Hôtel des Invalides (including Napoleon’s tomb) and fabulous Musée Rodin. Underlining why Saint-Germain-Des-Prés is so popular, the final direction east leads to the vibrant Latin Quarter, the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg, and France’s grand monument to its heroes, the Panthéon.

About the author
Laura Schulze

I love traveling! Whether it's the Australian outback, the fjords of Norway or city trips to the most beautiful cities in the world like Paris, Singapore, Barcelona or New York - I'll write down my best tips so that your trip will be a very special highlight.

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