Saint Germain des Pres District, Paris
Just walking through the streets and neighborhoods of Paris is a joy. This photo shows a shop and two very high wooden doors to the left that open to a walkway and courtyard where there may be homes that are hidden away from the street.
At Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, across from the church, there is a casting of the sculpture Prometheus (Le Prométhée) by Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967), showing Prometheus bringing fire to the people, as he did in ancient Greek mythology.
Another casting of the same sculpture can be seen in the University Library in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
But you don’t have to go all the way to Frankfurt to see more of Zadkine’s work, because the Zadkine Museum in Paris is just one and a half kilometers from Saint-Germain-des-Prés – an easy five minute bicycle ride via Rue de Rennes and Rue d’Assas.
Second photo: Prometheus with the building of the ‘Society for the encouragement of national industry’ in the background.
Third photo: Looking up Rue de Rennes towards the Montparnasse Tower, from Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Fourth photo: A Wallace Fountain at Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés. (Photo from July 2014.)
Fifth photo: Zadkine’s Prometheus at Saint-Germain-des-Prés in July 2014.
Address: Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, 75006 Paris
Directions: Location on the Vélib’ map. The nearest Vélib’ station is number 6012 at 141 Boulevard Saint Germain.
Married in the town hall of the 13th with the sculpture "The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Zadkine.
Next Paris review from March 2014: Delacroix Museum
This beautiful Sevres fountain is in the small garden behind the church. Please look at the doorknobs & details travelogue for another great shot of the ceramics.
The Sevres Porcelain factory was founded in 1738 and was located originally at Chateau Vincennes. In 1759 it was moved by the then owner, Louis XV, to the town of Sevres southwest of Paris ville where it was produced into teh 20th century.
On our guided walking tour of the Saint-Germain-des-Près neighborhood we were taken in and out of several hidden passageways and courtyards, like the ones in first two photos.
Eventually we arrived at the Cours du Commerce Saint André (third photo) and at the back side of the historic Café Procope (fourth and fifth photos), which is now not so much a café as an up-market restaurant.
Café Procope was founded in 1686 and was famous in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as the meeting place of Parisian intellectuals. Voltaire and Rousseau both drank their coffee here, but presumably not at the same time, because they couldn’t stand the sight of each other. Americans such as Benjamin Franklin, John Paul Jones and Thomas Jefferson were also regular guests during their years in Paris.
During the French Revolution, Café Procope was used as a meeting place by such revolutionaries as Marat, Danton and Robespierre. Even Lieutenant Bonaparte used to hang out here, long before he crowned himself Emperor of the French.
Later, in the nineteenth century, the German naturalist and world traveler Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) ate lunch here every day during the 1820s, while he was writing up the scientific results of his South American travels and publishing them in a set of huge, elaborately illustrated volumes. (I have looked through some of these in libraries and was astounded at the scope and vast amounts of detail.)
Beaumarchais, Balzac, Hugo and Verlaine also came to Café Procope regularly.
(The links will take you to tips/reviews that I have written about these people on various VirtualTourist pages.)
Address: Restaurant Le Procope, 13 rue de l’Ancienne Comédie – 75006 Paris
Directions: Vélib' 6015. Location on the Vélib’ map.
Location and photo of Café Procope on monumentum.fr
Phone: 01 40 46 79 00
Next: Cour de Rohan
St. Germain des Pres is reported to be the oldest church in Paris. During much of its existence there was also a large Benedictine abbey complex, of which only fragments remain.
The picture on the left is the church. In the picture of the shop on the right you can see some old stones -- these are part of the old abbey that have been incorporated into the shop's design.
The website documents a massacre of prisoners that took place at the abbey during the French Revolution.
This lovely little square, has all the Parisian atmosphere you could ask for. Situated just in front of the St. Germain-des-prés church, the oldest in Paris, this is a place where there is life. Students from some of the best schools in France congregate here, mingling with the many tourists and of course there is the possibility of spotting someone famous at the nearby cafés, Lipp, Flore and the Deux Magots. This is an ideal people-watching spot-Have a look at the photo of the Nun eating lunch with an "SDF" and a pigeon. Unfortunately I couldn't get the whole shot for a hedge being in the way.
Not a couple of hundred metres away is the superb "place de Furstenberg", with the Delacroix museum at no. 6, the last home and studio of the painter. Website below.
The last stop on our guided walking tour of the Saint-Germain-des-Près neighborhood was the Cour de Rohan, a series of three interconnected courtyards.
The name has nothing to do with the Rohan family, but comes from the fact that the Bishops of Rouen had their Paris residence here in the fourteenth century.
Fourth and fifth photos: This substantial brick and stone building was first constructed in 1550 for Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566), the mistress of King Henri II.
Address: 3 Cours de Rohan, 75006 Paris
Directions: Vélib’ 6015. Location on the Vélib’ map.
Next: Speed limits in Paris
My hotel in Paris was in the St. Germain des Pres neighborhood, a very atmospheric section of the city. Small, winding streets and tiny sidewalks where (maybe) two people at a time can pass. Little shops selling furniture, antiques and wine, among other things. Restaurant, cafes and little brasseries. It's quaint and quiet too, though there are sections with more nightlife too.
I found it especially appealing at night. The sun is down, the soft streetlights are on, and the atmosphere really becomes different. Like in a movie. I found it to be very appealing, and always made it a point to get out and walk around at night.
If you walk any of the little streets between the Left Bank of the Seine and Blvd Saint Germain, you'll find yourself transported back to a different time. Leave the hustle and bustle of Paris behind here.
This indoor market in Saint Germain is not as impressive and exciting as its outdoor counterpart in the Bastille area. It's shares the same roof as several clothing stores and from my understanding, is much more commercial than it was in the past. Commercial indeed. Quite different from what it was in the 19th and 20th century when it was an open market, it only boasts about 20 vendors. Even so, if you're in the area - and only if you're in the area - swing by to see what the vendors have to offer. Frankly there isn't anything you won't find in whichever neighborhood your staying in -- unless of course it's Saint Germain.
If you cross the Pont des Arts from the Louvre to the Left Bank you see before you the gilded and ribbed dome of the Institute de France. It was built by LeVau (1663-70) for Cardinal Mazerin as a college to provide higher education for recently annexed districts. The Revolution closed the college (it was not in line with equality). Napoleon established the Institute and installed there the Academie Francaise; the chapel (under the dome) became an auditorium. Here the 40 life-time fellows (one is at last a female) of great appropriate“accomplishment” (most are unknown) safeguard the French Language. The East Wing is the Bibliotheque Mazarin. There are guided tours on the weekend. Outside following the Quai de Conti east is the Hotel des Monnaies which houses an extensive museum of Medallions (an art form that I have not developed a taste for). One should go west and access r. Bonaparte and look in the unusual shop windows, first stopping at the gate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. You can enter the courtyard but there is nothing to see and beyond that is for the students. The buildings are very old and have an interesting past history. The rue leads further South to the church of St. Germaine. A further walk goes across Blvd. St. Germaine.
This one-time suburb of Paris is located on the Left Bank, across the Seine from the Tuileries. It runs along the southern shore of the Seine, in the 7th and 6th arrondissements, and consists of the area east of boulevard St-Michel as far as to include the Musée d’Orsay. It stretches some 4 to 5 blocks to the south, including boulevard St-Germain and several blocks to its south.
St-Germain’s more interesting structures are the Cour du Commerce St-André, the Cour de Rohan, the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, the Institut de France, the Palais Abbatial, the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, the Théâtre National de l’Odéon and the St-Germain-des-Prés church. Some of its more interesting streets are boulevard St-Germain, the rue du Dragon and the rue de l’Odéon. Its museums include the Musée Eugène Delacroix, the Musée Nationale de la Légion d’Honneur, the Musée de la Monnaie and the Musée d’Orsay.
Located off boulevard Saint-Germain, this small hidden alley provides a glimpse of what Paris might have looked like in medieval times. The pedestrianised, cobblestoned alley is tucked behind buildings and is accessible through archways that lead into the modern streets. The charming alley contains several shops and a couple of historic café's and restaurants, including le Procope, one of Paris' oldest dating from the 17th century. Le Procope is known to have been frequented by many literary and historic figures, such as Voltaire.
The St. Germaine district (in the 6th Arrondissement) consists of the main St. Germaine Blvd. and surrounds. It's an area steeped in rich history – including a fascinating literary and bohemian history. Now, on the surface, you'll see traces of that old intellectualism if you look closely enough past the shi-shi fashion shops and its crowds of shoppers; it’s still home to bookshops, and arts stops, and many a cafe. We enjoyed strolling through the area and dipping into brasseries to sip sidewalk café and people-watch. The highlight here for us, though, was a visit to the famous Café du Flor just near the grand 6th-century St. Germaine-des-Prés church. We sat overlooking the sidewalk, and – with our greatly overpriced drinks and delicious profiteroles – watched the parade of Parisian life stroll by. (The Flor is supposedly the place to be ‘round these parts, though that’s dependant upon who you ask – Brasserie Lipp and Les Deux Magots across the way also have tempting caches of old stories a la Hemingway under their awnings.)
St Germain des Pres is a charming quarter in Paris, filled with artists, students, locals and tourists! There are many restaurants and nice shopping boutiques that are fun-filled during the day and the night also!
The church in this quarter (l'Eglise St Germain des Pres) is said to be one of the first constructed in Paris. When I read this, I expected the church to be more extravagant than it was, however, it was beautiful nonetheless.
I would recommend going to St Germain des Pres if you want to roam around the boutiques, or if you wanted to go out for a noisy drink in the evening!!
Located behind Abbaye Saint-Germain-des-Près, le Palais Abbatial was built in 1586 by Cardinal de Bourbon, the Abbot of Saint-Germain-des-Près. The architect of the palace is thought to be Guillaume de Marchand, whose design is considered a precursor to the Louis XIII style that emerged in France shortly thereafter. Le Palais Abbatial was also the second building in Paris, after Hôtel Scipion, to combine redbrick and stone in its construction. Some modifications occurred later, particularly around 1680 by Guillaume Egon, the Cardinal landgrave of Fürstenberg. His title is eternalised a short block away from the palace, at place Fürstenberg, one of the most charming squares in Paris. It is planted with four large Paulownia trees and is often featured in French films. Le Palais Abbatial is nowadays the headquarters of a couple of religious organisations.