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"Rive gauche", the left bank, is slightly different from the other side, dominated by students and cultural activities.
Of course, shopping is the "cultural activity" for many people (no, I'm not talking about Fernanda) and the avenues of Saint Germain are filled with "cultural centers".
Another "cultural activity" recommended to this area is lunch, in one of the many restaurants.
Of course, in the brakes of so intense cultural activities, strolling in the narrow streets allows some small surprises and pleasures.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Meet France's patron saint in Place Saint-Michel
The Archangel Michael has particular significance for me, as my secondary school was named in his honour. Even 30 years after leaving, I can still sing the first verse of our school song (an undistinguished Latin dirge called "Dux Michael" - "Our Leader Michael") word perfect, which makes me shudder to think of all the really useful stuff that I've forgotten over the same period!
St Michael is also the patron saint of France, so it wasn't too surprising to see him commemorated by a fountain on the Boulevard St Michel in the Latin Quarter, just around the corner from Musee de Cluny. It was intriguing to discover that the fountain was originally designed with a statue of Napoleon Bonaparte as the central figure, but as he fell out of favour in the mid 19th century, he was replaced by the more politically palatable patron saint. In truth, I have to admit that the main statue itself doesn't knock my socks off, but the attendant dragons are absolutely splendid!
This fountain seems to be quite a popular meeting place, so take it as a given that the surrounding area gets quite crowded in the early evening.
A tale of the the green boxes
Along the left bank of the Seine in the area of the Latin Quarter / Notre Dame, you will find a series of metallic green boxes that are cunningly strapped to the wall.
Every one is a business in it's own right. Depending upon the day or time of day, the contents are brought out to see the light of day.
This the centre of French intellectual life, and many of the stall will sell rare and erudite volumes to the students amd professors of universities alike. Many more sell old (are rare) magazines, prints and the like. Some sell good quality art, but an increasing number peddle general tourist c**p.
Whilst this may have the appearance of a 'perfect market', prices can be steep.
An excellent place for a leisurely browse - with no pressure to buy.
- Arts and Culture
Music and drinks with the locals after dinner
After a great dinner in the Latin Quarter, we took a short walk to the Marais for some music and drinks at La Vénus Noire. Situated in the heart of the Marais district, this beautiful vaulted cellar, dating from the twelfth century, is a jazz concert & Baroque music club.
It was a perfect place to mingle with Parisian locals (not a touristy place at all). It was like being in a movie: there were several rooms, filled with various seating arrangements, with interesting artwork on the walls. We were a group of about 10, and we definitely didn't feel like tourists here! There were people of all ages, but mostly 20-30.
P.S. The Latin Quarter is a wonderful, exciting, diverse place to visit. We were there in January 2013, and Paris was under snow. It was beautiful! Our guide asked us to meet at La fontaine Ste Michel, and said, "Just ask anyone. Everyone knows where it is!" Be advised, it didn't look like a fountain at all when covered in snow, and at night. In fact, we remarked on the statues as we passed it by, still looking for the fountain. Parisians would point and say, "C'est juste là !" It's right there!" Fortunately, we also had the name and address of the restaurant, so after 30 minutes of searching, we gave up and went to the restaurant. The fountain is beautiful, and not like any fountain we'd ever seen!
- Business Travel
The hop on/off Bus took us into Place St. Michel and past the baroque fountain where the protector of France, St. Michel, is slaying a Dragon. The fountain in the center of the square is another impressive landmark, created in 1860. The landmark is well known to Parisians, as it was once the site of numerous protests and social uprisings. In 1968, students took charge of the square in the face of tear gas and police clubs. Workers announced mass strikes, which halted Frances' economy for weeks and led to the eventual fall of De Gaulle's government.
Now it is a meeting place for mainly the young University students.
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
The Church of Saint-Séverin (Eglise Saint-Séverin) is a small church in the Latin Quarter of Paris, located on the lively tourist street Rue St-Séverin. It is the oldest church that remains standing on the Left Bank, and it continues in use as a place of worship.
The church is dedicated to Séverin, who who lived and prayed there in a small oratory. After Séverin's death, a basilica was constructed, later destroyed by the Vikings.
The current church was started in the 11th century, though its major features are Gothic from the 15th century.
With some fine gargoyles, it has the oldest bell in Paris, cast in 1412.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Back on our first visit to Europe in 2008 one of the very first things we saw outside the Gare du Nord train station, the RER, the street to our hotel, our hotel was Place Saint-Michel as we began our first 4 days in Paris. At that time the fountain was not spouting very much water as seen in picture #1. This time as we were staying close by in a hotel for one night we passed by this area on our way to the Paris islands. We knew instantly where we were and this time the fountain was in its full glory.
Also in the Place Saint-Michel this time we saw a bubble maker entertaining (hopefully he wasn't there to distract for pick pocket friends) children by casting his bubble in the air seemingly just beyond the reach of the 3 little girls we saw when we passed. (pictures 2, 3 and 4)
A little fountain history - The fountain was constructed by Gabriel Davioud between 1855 and 1860. Originally it was going to depict Napoleon, but Napoleon III was taking some heat about that so it was changed to the Archangel Michel.
- Arts and Culture
Fontaine des Quatre-Saisons & Musée Maillol
Dedicated to the four seasons, this monumental fountain was completed in 1745 by the royal sculptor Edmé Bouchardon. It was commissioned by King Louis XV and was among many fountains built in Paris at the time to provide water to Parisians, but la Fontaine des Quatres-Saisons was the grandest of them all. One of the archways within the fountain leads into a courtyard which has the entrance to Musée Maillol, a small museum dedicated to the works of the Catalan artist Aristide Maillol. The museum also holds temporary exhibits, such as the one on Pompei that was taking place when I visited in Dec 2011.
- Museum Visits
Fontaine de Place Saint Michel
If you keep going and exit east out of Jardin du Luxembourg, you hit Blvd St Michel.
Up NE you eventually come to a great hangout spot, Place St. Michel fountain.
Usually always crowded with people (mostly young but all ages), enjoy the scene while Archangel Michael slays the devil/dragon/whatever. During WWII occupation this was a place of many conflicts between occupying Nazis and the French resistance as well as the student riots in the '60s.
as a spiritual 'Soixante-huitard'
(if you thrive on cultural sterotypes... :P)
this place holds a special relevance for me.
There were lots of cafes here for some good people-watching, and overall Place St Michel is just an excellent area to walk, hang & chill.
At night you can watch fire-eaters, or sit down at a cafe table
and if you're lucky enough, have a french "lady" you have never seen before
(with her right hand) cadge / con you for drinks, smoke your cigarettes;
and (with her left hand) honk you under the table.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Historical Travel
Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre Church - Iglesia
I started my trail along the Latin Quarter from Saint Julien le Pauvre church, placed in the Way of St. James. It is one of the oldest churches in Paris, sitting near the Seine, in the other river side of Notre-Dame Cathedral. It was built between 1165 and 1220. At least three saints can be claimed as patron of this church, but it is most likely that Saint Julian the Hospitaller (or the Poor) was the one originally intended. The University of Paris held its official meetings in a room of the church until 1524, when a student protest created so much damage that the meetings were barred from the church by Parliament. This meeting room was demolished in the 17th century and that's why the main façade looks like it lastes a part. This church looks like a countryside hermitage and it's very simple from its outside.
Empecé mi ruta por el Barrio Latino desde la iglesia de Saint Julien le Pauvre, en el Camino de Santiago. Esta es una de las iglesias más antiguas de París, situada cenrca del Sena, al otro lado de río de la Catedral de Notre-Dame. Se construyó entre 1165 y 1220. Puede decirse que al menos tres santos son los patrones de esta iglesia, pero el más claro es San Julian el Hospitalario (o el pobre), al que primero se dedicó la parroquia. La Universidad de París celebraba sus reuniones oficiales en una sala de esta iglesia hasta que una protesta estudiantil hizo tantos destrozos en 1524 que el Parlamento prohibió hacer aquí las reuniones. La sala fue derribada en el siglo XVIII y por eso que a la fachada parece como si le faltara un trozo. La iglesia parece una hermita de campo y es muy simple en su exterior.
Opening hours / Horario de apertura
Everyday / Todos los días: 9:30 - 13:00 and 15:00 - 18:30
Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre (inside - interior)
For a time, the City of Paris considered turning the church into a museum, but in 1889, St. Julien was instead reconsecrated and assigned to the Melkites, a congregation of Eastern Catholics who observe the Byzantine Rite and have their own Patriarch, but are still in communion with the Pope in Rome. It remains a Melkite church, Greek Catholic Rite, to the present day and you can see it's very different from a Roman Rite church. I like this church, very similar like the orthodox worship places. It is also the setting for chamber and religious music concerts.
Durante un tiempo, la ciudad de París estuvo considerando convertir esta iglesia en un museo, pero en 1889 se resacralizó Saint Julien y en 1892 se asignó a los Melquitas, una congregación de católicos orientales que observan el rito bizantino y tiene su propio patriarca, pero que continuan en comunión con el Papa de Roma. Hoy en día continua siendo una iglesia Melkita, de culto católico griego y se puede ver claramente que es diferente a cualquier iglesia de rito romano. Me gusta esta iglesia, muy similar a los lugares d eoración ortodoxos. Éste es también lugar para conciertos de música religiosa.
Mass schedule / Horario de misas
Tuesday and Thursday / Martes y jueves: 12:15 (Mass / Misa)
Wednesnay and Friday / Miércoles y viernes: 12:15 (Canonical hours / Horas canónicas)
Saturday / Sábado: 17:00 (Vespers / Vísperas)
Sunday / Domingo: 11:00 (Sunday Mass / Misa dominical)
Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre (garden - jardín)
North of the church, in the garden, exists the oldest tree of Paris (planted in 1602) by Jean Robin, gardener in chief of the field of the Apothecaries. It is also known as the "Lucky Tree of Paris", as it is thought to bring years of good luck to those who gently touch the tree's bark. There are some Roman remains along the garden. But the most remarkable spot is a modern fountain, devoted to St. Julien the Hospitaller. It has a triangular shape and there are many small figures depicting him supporting and comforting others.
Al norte de la iglesia, en el jardín, está el arbol más antiguo de París (plantado en 1602) por Jean Robin, jardinero jefe en el campo de farmacéuticos. También se le llama "el Arbol de la Suerte de París", porque se piensa que el que toque su tronco tendrá varios años de buena suerte. Hay algunos restos romanos a lo largo del jardín. Pero lo que más llama la atención es una fuente moderna dedicada a San Julian el Hospitalario. Tiene forma triangular y muchas figuras pequeñas que lo representan apoyando y confortando a gente.
The heart of the Latin Quarter is of course the Sorbonne University. It is one of the oldest and most famous college in the world. At the very beginning, it was a theology school, and the name "Latin Quarter" comes from the fact that at that time all the lessons were given in latin.
I had the chance to study here for one year (in history). It was impressing to have classes in these rooms with beautiful painted ceilings. But contrary to what most people think, the Sorbonne is not a "top level" university like Oxford or Yale... In France all the universities have pretty much the same level and the choice is made depending on where you live, not of your grades.
Our top level schools are what we call the "Grandes Ecoles" like "Sciences Po" or "Polytechnique"...
Normally you can enter the building only if you have a student card. But you can try to have a look inside pretending that you come to get some information about the foreign student programm for example...
Great food, nice people
Well, I ran into this area as I was looking for the train stop, and I am soooo happy I did....I had not spoken to anyone who had mentioned the Latin Quarter to me, so I'm glad I found it.....This is probably the cheapest and best meals you will have in all of Paris.....the narrow streets are lined with all types of restaurants offering every type of food your looking for...pastries, cheese stores, all foods.......Spend having lunch here !!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED IT !!!!!! and for those who fear the language barrier....most of the places have English menu's !!!!!
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
Square Réné Viviani. 5th.
This favourite little square, created in 1928 commemorating the very first Works Minister France ever had has much going for it. Just across the river from Notre Dame it sits on the site of an old annexe of the Hotel Dieu hospital, that gives onto the place in front of the cathedral. It is home to the oldest tree in Paris, a "robinier" planted here in 1601, but also home to some of the loveliest climbing roses in Paris (May) and some magnolia trees that are sublime when in bloom (early April). There is a well probably dating from the 12th century and also, of course has the St. Julien le Pauvre church, the second oldest in Paris backing into it. It was used as a barricade during the Liberation by the FFI and police to protect Notre Dame from the retreating German soldiers.
It's benches are also much used for romantic reasons as couples contemplate a magnificent view of Notre Dame.
St. Michel is the closest metro.
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