Exploring the Saint-Michel Neighborhood in Paris

What to do in Saint-Michel?

Place Saint-Michel is where several compelling Parisian neighborhoods converge. The headline feature is an attractive fountain (the tallest in Paris), but it is the bustling thoroughfares of the neighborhood that truly stand out. With some of the most vibrant streets in Paris leading to Saint Michel, we journey around the neighborhood to understand its enduring appeal to visitors and residents.

My TOP 5 Highlights around Saint-Michel

TOP 5 Spots

  • Step back in time in Cour du Commerce-Saint-André (Cr du Commerce Saint-André, 75006): This narrow passageway is a time capsule. The cobbled alley offers a rare glimpse of a Paris before Haussmann’s transformative renovations of the mid-nineteenth century. Teeming with restaurants and cafés, including Le Procope, the oldest in the city, the street typifies the nostalgic nature of the Latin Quarter.
  • Savor delectable pastries and views at the A. Lacroix Patissier (11 Quai de Montebello): The gâteaux at A. Lacroix are works of art that taste as good as they look. Creations like the Notre Dame apple and Tout Chocolat are photo-worthy. They are expensive, but once you’ve finished marveling at their beauty and finally sink your teeth in, you’ll understand why. As an added bonus, you can enjoy views over Notre Dame. A treat for gourmands and experience-seekers.
  • Grab a picnic and unwind in one of the city’s prettiest parks, Jardin du Luxembourg: There’s no shortage of delightful green spaces in Paris. And with utmost respect to the charms of Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and Parc Monceau, the Luxembourg Gardens tops them all. Nestled between the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, a short walk from Saint-Michel, this idyllic garden is flush with things to see and do, including the handsome Luxembourg Palace and Medici Fountain. Load up on goodies and unwind with a picnic in this lively and picturesque garden.
  • Venture into the peculiar and intriguing Musée d’histoire de la médecine (Université Paris Cité, 12 Rue de l’École de Médecine): The Medical History Museum is undoubtedly one of the more unusual museums in a city awash with quirky exhibitions. It won’t fill a day, but the intriguing displays are informative, and the surgical instruments discomfortingly fascinating.
  • Take a peaceful moment in the impressive church Saint-Séverin (2 Rue des Prêtres Saint-Séverin, 75005): Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, and Saint-Séverin should come as a trio of sights, yet most visitors only head to the first two. The stained-glass windows at Saint Séverin church, the oldest on the Left Bank, would be a headline attraction if not for the more spectacular offerings nearby. It is free to visit and just a 10-minute walk from Sainte-Chapelle, making it a worthy detour for anyone interested in seeing more of medieval Paris.

General information

The streets around Place Saint-Michel are made for exploring and are packed with monuments, landmarks, and iconic attractions. Alongside the many notable points of interest is an endless array of places to eat and replenish your energy. Place Saint-Michel is in the Latin Quarter. It also sits on the boundaries of other notable quartiers, like a monumental compass. The historic Île de la Cité, fashionable Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and the culturally rich Odéon quartier all border Saint-Michel.

The sheer variety of restaurants, cafés, and bars underlines the popularity of Saint-Michel. Students, travelers, and workers mix easily in the area. Day or night, the streets around Place Saint-Michel are a lively hangout. Visitors can feel safe and secure in this cosmopolitan neighborhood. But as with anywhere that tourists concentrate, pickpockets are a negligible but present risk. If you’re looking for a base close to several captivating quartiers, Saint-Michel offers everything a tourist could hope for — excellent transport links, myriad things to do on your doorstep, and some great value hotels.

How to get to Place Saint-Michel

If you’re planning to visit specific attractions, the Métro de Paris stops at key points around the neighboring districts. You can also disembark directly onto Place Saint-Michel using the public transport links below:

  • Saint-Michel – Notre Dame: Line 4
  • Gare de Saint-Michel – Notre Dame: RER Trains B/C
  • Bus routes: 21, 27, 38, 47, 58, 70, 87, 96, N12, N13, N14, N21, N122

Attractions, activities, and tours around Saint-Michel

Place Saint-Michel has an enviable position, sandwiched between itinerary topping destinations like the Latin Quarter and Île de la Cité. To give you a fuller flavor of the neighborhood, we’ve picked out some attractions close to Place Saint-Michel that illustrate the rich heritage of the area.

Best attractions


Around Saint-Michel there are many attractions that you should visit. You can find the best ones here.

  1. 01

    Fontaine Saint-Michel

    Fountains in Quartier Saint-Michel
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    Fountain Saint-Michel at Place Saint-Michel in Paris, France. It was constructed in 1858-1860 .
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    The most striking feature of Place Saint-Michel is the majestic Fontaine Saint- Michel, aka Saint Michael’s Fountain. It was a well-known meeting point in those mythical times before mobile phones existed. Today, it still draws crowds to admire this beautiful example of Second Empire architecture.

  2. 02

    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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    After Haussmann leveled parts of Paris in the mid-1800s, many old, narrow passageways disappeared. Cour du Commerce-Saint-André was shortened but otherwise left intact. Today, this pre-revolutionary street is an atmospheric reminder of an almost-forgotten Paris.

    As you head towards the Latin Quarter end, you will encounter the legendary Le Procope café, the oldest in Paris. Other shops and restaurants add to an ambiance that monetarily transports you back in time. A poignant contrast with the grander streets connecting the venerable passageway.

  3. 03

    Musée d’histoire de la médecine

    Museum in Quartier Saint-Michel
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    This curiosity won’t appear on many visitor plans, but you’ll be missing one of the more eye-opening experiences in the Saint Michel area. The Medical History Museum was once reserved for academics, but in 1994 it opened to the public. It’s a short, intriguing diversion where few tourists venture. But if you’re seeking something offbeat yet unexpectedly interesting, both the exhibit and the attractive building are worth a look.

  4. 04

    Église Saint-Séverin

    Religious Site in Quartier Saint-Michel
    Saint-Michel, Saint-Severin Chur
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    Remarkably, another astonishing set of stained-glass windows is just a short walk from the jaw-droppers at Sainte-Chapelle. Unlike Sainte-Chapelle, Saint-Séverin church is still a place of worship. Visitors are welcome to enter and admire their (slightly less) impressive set of stained-glass windows.

    The church is one of the oldest on the Left Bank, rebuilt in the 15th century but standing on the site of earlier structures dating back to the 11th century. A worthy companion destination to the distinguished landmarks on nearby Île de la Cité.

  5. 05

    Jardin du Luxembourg

    Park in Quartier de l'Odéon
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    If you need a break from the crowded streets around Saint-Michel, the Luxembourg Gardens (aka Jardin du Sénat – Senate Garden) is a wonderful spot to refresh and unwind. The trim and beautifully presented gardens are among the finest in Paris.

    The Luxembourg Palace overlooking the Grand Bassin is a majestic sight, built for a queen in the early 17th century. There are playgrounds and sports courts, and many diversions to discover. The park gets busy, but the vibrant mood merely lifts the atmosphere.


Best tours


There are many things to do around Saint-Michel. Here you can find the best tours.

  1. 01

    Bohemian Paris: Latin Quarter Walking Tour

    Walking Tour in Quartier Saint-Michel
    GYG Saint-Michel Walking Tour
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    Start at one of Paris’s great meeting points, Place Saint-Michel, before exploring the colorful heritage of the area on foot in the company of a knowledgeable tour guide. Discover the heart of bohemian Paris on a walking tour. See the homes and former haunts of artists inspired by the area’s Left Bank romance, including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Salvador Dalí.

    During the tour, you’ll see the Luxembourg Gardens, the Pantheon, and Sorbonne University, while a guide tells stories from the long and luminous history of this classic Paris neighborhood.
    The tour is available in English and Spanish.

  2. 02

    Paris by Night City of Lights Sightseeing Guided Bike Tour

    Combi Tour in Quartier Saint-Michel
    viator Saint-Michel Bike Tour
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    Exploring the quartier around Saint-Michel is a joy on two wheels. This expansive tour sweeps through all the highlights under the twinkling lights of Paris. Follow your guide past Paris’ top attractions, such as the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the famous Berthillon ice cream shop. Along your ride you while stop at 12 amazing sights and afterwards, top off your tour with a cruise along the Seine paired with a delicious glass of wine. The tour is only available in English.

Eating & drinking around Saint-Michel

Sitting on the edge of the café-filled Latin Quarter and close to chic Saint- Germain-des-Prés, there is a world of choice around Saint-Michel. To help you navigate them, we’ve selected some notable places to grab a quick lunch or enjoy a lingering evening of gastronomic pleasure.

Top restaurants

You want to visit a really good restaurant? Here you can find our restaurant tips for this neighborhood.

  1. 01 Le Petit Châtelet

    Next door to the iconic Shakespeare and Company bookstore, opposite Notre Dame, is a bistro acclaimed for serving up regional French specialties with a touch of passion and flair. If you’re looking to try escargots, you’ve found your restaurant. Affordable, well-located in the 5th arrondissement, and oozing character, this venue will please gourmands.

  2. 02 Bistro des Augustins

    At the opposite end of the price spectrum is this cozy bistro with a reputation for lovingly prepared French dishes. The always packed roadside terrace enjoys views over Île de la Cité in the 6th arrondissement. Creamy gratins are the star of the menu in this unpretentious restaurant.

  3. 03 Boutary

    One for gastronomes with big wallets, Boutary’s menu focuses on a single extravagant ingredient, caviar. Contemporary surroundings and knowledgeable staff make this an agreeable venue to satisfy any cravings for the salty epicurean luxury.This extravagent restaurant is located in the 6th arrondissement.

  4. 04 La Jacobine

    Tucked away in the evocative Cour du Commerce-Saint-André in the 6th arrondissement is a restaurant with a stellar reputation that has aged handsomely. A menu of Gallic classics done properly, in a tightly-packed yet welcoming space in the picturesque passageway. There is a catch: the hype usually means waiting a long time to be seated.

  5. 05 Ze Kitchen Galerie

    It can be tempting to only feast on traditional French fare in Paris. After all, you’ll find a restaurant doing it well around every corner. But modern French cuisine from cutting-edge chefs should not be overlooked. Ze Kitchen Galerie illustrates why.

    This Michelin-starred venue in the 6th arrondissement talks of food being an artform. And the rave reviews clearly agree. The eye-wateringly expensive menu découverte (discovery menu) boldly mixes Asian flavors and French ingredients to loud acclaim.

The most beautiful cafés

Historic cafés are easily found in the intellectual melting pot of the Latin Quarter and Sorbonne. But if you’re looking for something closer to Place Saint-Michel, you might appreciate our pick of the cafés around Saint-Michel.

  1. 01 Le Néo Café

    Head up the wide Boulevard Saint Germain int he 6th arrondissement, and you’ll find some feted cafés, like Sartre’s favorite, Café de Flore. Néo Café may not have the same cachet, but this vibrant café-bar is a better place to unwind. Their breakfasts are in-demand, while a tapas-style evening menu makes for an easygoing night out.

  2. 02 A. Lacroix Patissier

    Go here for the cakes, which are out of this world. Stay for the views over Notre Dame. Their famous Notre Dame Apple is a delectable work of art that you’ll simply want to admire, not eat. But there are plenty of other irresistible pastries in this smart patisserie-coffeeshop in the 5th arrondissement, so don’t hold back!

  3. 03 Café D'auteur

    A contemporary coffeeshop in a comfortable and slightly eccentric space that will appeal to coffee connoisseurs and folks looking for a welcoming space to nurse a brew. You´ll find this gem in the 6th arrondissement.

  4. 04 Café Laurent

    Jazz is a treasured Parisian memory. Citizens embraced the trend during the Les Années folles (1920s), and Saint-Germain-des-Prés was its spiritual home. Café Laurent delights jazz fans in an intimate café-bar that hosts two evening performances daily. Although based in a hotel in the 6th arrondissement, it attracts music lovers from all over the city and is ideal for a refined evening’s entertainment.

  5. 05 Le Corner Saint Germain

    Part café, part pub, this popular venue in the 5th arrondissement has an inventive menu of cocktails, brunches, and eclectic mains with big flavors. Streetside seating and a modern vibe help create a buoyant atmosphere, day and night.

Shopping around Saint-Michel

Beautiful bookshops, sophisticated boutiques, and magasins au courant are buried in the quartiers around Saint-Michel. Not to mention many well-known chain stores. If you’re unsure where to start, you will find plenty of reasons to spend Euros on rue de la Huchette. Here are a few more places that will appeal to shoppers around Saint-Michel.

  • The Abbey Bookshop (English language and used bookstore of singular character): 29 Rue de la Parcheminerie, 75005.
  • Gibert Jeune (a popular book store with publications in many languages) 27 Quai Saint-Michel, 75005.
  • Aroma-Zone Odéon (cosmetics and mix-your-own essetnial oils): 25 Rue de l’École de Médecine, 75006.
  • Maison Georges Larnicol (enticing chocolates and macarons): 132 Bd Saint- Germain, 75006.
  • Le Petit Prince Store (fresh, imaginative gifts for children): 8 Rue Grégoire de Tours, 75006.
  • Pixi & Cie (figurines and curiosities shop, with a mini-museum): 6 Rue de l’Echaudé, 75006.

The finest art galleries and museums

The quartiers around Saint-Michel are light on top-tier museums and art galleries. Yet there are some smaller venues to sate art-loving appetites and entice prospective buyers, along with several inimitable museums. Here’s the best of them around Saint-Michel.

  1. 01 Musée d’histoire de la médecine

    This curiosity won’t appear on many visitor plans, but you’ll be missing one of the more eye-opening experiences in the Saint Michel area. The Medical History Museum was once reserved for academics, but in 1994 it opened to the public. It’s a short, intriguing diversion where few tourists venture. But if you’re seeking something offbeat yet unexpectedly interesting, both the exhibit and the attractive building are worth a look.

  2. 02 Galerie Sagot - Le Garrec

    A small but welcoming gallery and shop selling fine art since 1881, located in the 6th arrondissement. A diversity of master prints and drawings from modern and contemporary artists awaits visitors.

  3. 03 Kamel Mennour

    Small but lauded by art connoisseurs, this gallery in the 6th arrondissement displays works by contemporary artists. The pretty courtyard is a bonus for visitors. Check the website for an updated program.

  4. 04 Mundolingua

    If you’re struggling to be understood in Paris, this museum in the 6th arrondissement might have some answers. The museum of languages is an intriguing destination, and visitors are often surprised by how much they enjoy the instructive exhibits.

  5. 05 Musée de Minéralogie

    Another oddity, yet a surprising hit for all age groups. The museum of mineralogy in the 6th arrondissement is small but possesses a relatively large collection of gems and minerals. The star attraction is a meteorite you can touch. An authentic gem of a museum!

The most charming hotels

Pressed on two sides by the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, there are some fashionable and highly in-demand hotels near Place Saint-Michel. It is an area with easy access to major attractions that can be less expensive than staying in the heart of the most fashionable districts. To help you find your home from home, here are 5 exceptional hotels that epitomize this Left Bank neighborhood.

  1. booking Saint-Michel Hotel Europe Saint-Severin
    Credit: booking.com

    01 Hôtel Europe Saint-Séverin

    3 Stars | Close to Place Saint-Michel and surrounded by shops and cafés, this charming hotel in the 5th arrondissement radiates understated elegance. Exposed brick walls contrast beautifully with the stylish, modern decor in the 59 rooms. Guests enthuse about the location, engaging street views, and the comfort and service in this inexpensive hotel.

  2. booking saint-michel Hotel belloy Saint Germain
    Credit: booking.com

    02 Hotel Belloy Saint Germain

    4 Stars | Just off Boulevard Saint-Michel is this smartly elegant hotel. The 50 rooms lean into the literary heritage of the neighborhood in the 6th arrondissement. A well-located boutique establishment with a Left Bank spirit.

  3. booking Saint-michel Hotel du Levant
    Credit: booking.com

    03 Hotel du Levant

    3 Stars | The individually styled rooms at this attractive hotel are within walking distance of Place Saint-Michel and the Latin Quarter. Modern with a nostalgic charm, this is another affordable gem close to the action in the 5th arrondissement.

  4. booking Saint-Michel Hotel Les Rives
    Credit: booking.com

    04 Hotel Les Rives De Notre Dame

    4 Stars | This recently renovated boutique establishment enjoys enviable views over Notre Dame and a reputation for outstanding service. A simple hotel in the 5th arrondissement that checks all the boxes for visitors seeking a quietly superior hotel in a fantastic location.

  5. booking Saint-michel Relais Hotel du Vieux Paris
    Credit: booking.com

    05 Relais Hôtel du Vieux Paris

    4 Stars | A relais was once a staging post for travelers and their horses. This distinctive boutique hotel in the 6th arrondissement has been there since 1480 and oozes medieval character. Nineteen rooms (including 6 suites) celebrate the hotels heritage with decorations befitting medieval nobles. If you like modern minimalism, this hotel is not for you. But if you want a taste of vieux Paris, you’ll cherish your stay there.

History & Facts

Saint-Michel is best known as for its magnificent square that separates the 5th and 6th arrondissements. It blends the character of several celebrated quartiers that all meet at the same point. Haussmann’s reconstruction of Paris was the catalyst for upgrading the square. The purpose was to develop an impressive public space to link Boulevard Saint-Michel with the new bridge leading to Île de la Cité. The centerpiece was the Fontaine Saint-Michel, overseen by architect Gabriel Davioud. Unveiled in 1860, the majestic fountain has been a focal point for Parisians ever since. In 1926, the fountain — the tallest in Paris — was officially designated a monument historique.

Exploring the Saint-Michel Neighborhood in Paris
The fountain Saint-Michel at Place Saint-Michel in Paris by night. It was constructed from 1858 till 1860 during French Second Empire .

Saint-Michel’s close proximity to the Sorbonne University and the intellectual hotbed of the Latin Quarter made the square an occasional meeting ground for students, workers, and radical politics. The Paris Commune of 1871 reputedly exploded into action from there, with the nearby Palais de Justice the early target of the Communards. In gentler times, the Place Saint-Michel established a reputation as a convenient meeting place for groups heading out to enjoy an evening’s entertainment at the many bars and cafés nearby. A role the square plays to this day.

Neighboring districts

Saint-Michel is well-known precisely because it sits at the crossroads of some high-profile quartiers. Across the Pont Saint-Michel bridge is Île de la Cité, once the home of Roman governors and kings. Two landmark monuments — Notre Dame Cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle — are within walking distance. Saint-Michel sits in the boundary of the Latin Quarter, home to Sorbonne University (France’s oldest and most prestigious) and the nation’s imposing monument to national heroes, the Panthéon. Not to mention endless bistros and literary legends like the Shakespeare and Company book store.

Chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés also borders Saint-Michel. Notable for its Haussmann architecture, jazz clubs, and intellectual heritage. That heritage is exemplified by Le Procope (Paris’s oldest café) and Café de Flore, which counts a long list of literary and philosophical luminaries among its former patrons. North of Saint-Michel is the Odéon quartier, centered around the gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg. The understated Monnaie quartier, home to the capital’s historic mint, also touches onto Place Saint-Michel. As you can see, there is a wealth of compelling and alluring districts within walking distance of Saint-Michel!


Is Saint-Michel easy to explore on foot?

The surrounding quartiers contain some of the leading attractions in Paris. Many can be reached by foot, although you will get pulled in different directions without a little organization, so a map might prove handy.

Is Saint-Michel safe?

Where tourists and good times converge in Paris, pickpockets are never far away. A little precaution is advisable. But on the whole, the area is safe, clean, and always busy.

Is Saint-Michel expensive?

Directly around Place Saint-Michel, it is possible to find hotels and restaurants a little cheaper than those in the heart of the bustling Latin Quarter and fashionable Saint-Germain-des-Prés. But you’re still at the epicenter of one of the world’s most visited cities, so expect prices to reflect this.

Profilbild Laura Schulze
About the author

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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