- You’ll learn about the famous Sorbonne university, one of the oldest in France!
- This tour is full of stories about Paris’s writers, from Rimbaud to the Lost Generation!
- You’ll follow Hemingway’s footsteps through the Jardin de Luxembourg!
- You’ll see the historic bookshops and cafés where students and scribblers still gather!
Latin Quarter Walking Tour
You want to explore the historical and intellectual centre of the capital?
Come and join Laure, a true “bookworm” who’s herself doing her Ph.D. at the Sorbonne University in Art History and Literary studies. From Roman ruins to Notre-Dame Gothic architecture, experience the quintessential Parisian vibe.
Observe the Arts and Humanities students sitting around Luxembourg Gardens’ lawns or at the terraces of cafés that became the haunts of Lost Generation writers and existentialist philosophers. Feel like a college student again, you actually are in the academic centre of the city.
Get to glimpse the best English and French bookshops in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Come across a wide gallery of celebrities from various centuries: Eloise and Abélard, Rimbaud and Verlaine, the Fitzgeralds… If you’re a Medievalist, a Roaring Twenties buff or a romanticist at heart and want to find your other half in the City of Love, this tour is for you.
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. Your Welcomer 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, your guide 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. Also, 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.
Meeting Address: 22 Prom. Maurice Carême, 75004 Paris - At the foot of the equestrian statue of Charlemagne, in front of Notre-Dame cathedral, Metro station Cité (line 4) / ENDING POINT: Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, 75006 Paris, closest metro station: Saint-Germain-des-Prés (line 4)
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