Did you know the Notre-Dame cathedral was the site of the very first Parisian university? During the 12th century, this episcopal school split into two and the breakaway professors settled on the Seine’s left bank. Hence was born the Latin Quarter, where the only shared idiom was… Latin, the true International Middle Ages language. No educated people could dare not to speak it fluently.
The Seine left bank also keeps remains of a time Paris was called Lutetia. The antique city was big enough to get a theater, many baths and Arenas. The latter are still very visible today, children’s games replacing gladiatorial combats.
Sorbonne University is currently so gigantic! Difficult to imagine what it looked like in the 13th century: a private school welcoming only 16 students. Laure will tell you how this single University burst into 13 entities after the student revolution of May 1968.
Across Saint Michel boulevard, begins the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district, the “other” Latin Quarter. Its green belt is the Luxembourg Gardens, a place for Hemingway’s strolls during the Roaring Twenties. He lived very close, seemingly to Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, or collector Gertrude Stein. These American expatriates found wonderful, a city where a hotel room costs 12 francs and a bottle of red wine 60 centimes!
In this bohemian neighborhood, where reality meets fiction, Laure will take you deeper into the literary and intellectual nature of Paris. While journeying through the past, you will hear about the Saint-Germain fair, situated around the eponym church. The fair provided a frame to French theater developments. It attracted authors and artists, like Cyrano de Bergerac, writer, poet and satirist from the early 17th century. Due to his long nose, he himself became a theater character 3 centuries after his death.
In front of Saint-Germain church, why not take a coffee break which sheltered both the tempestuous Verlaine and Rimbaud’s love affair and stormy existentialist debates. Before letting Laure return to her studies, don’t forget to have a glimpse of the place Oscar Wilde spent his last days. Paris was for sure a place for an intense life, but also sometimes for a miserable death.
With this tour, you’ll truly get an insightful collection of striking anecdotes that made the Latin Quarter’s narrative famous.