Friday, 30 November 2012

Quartier Latin-Paris | That Unmistakable Magic Air around La Sorbonne.


The Quartier Latin is one of the most famous,charming and bohemian districts of a  marvellous city called Paris,a place in which every visitor can breathe that unmistakable magic air around La Sorbonne that iconic and so famous Parisian University which since its inception is one of the most emblematic Institutions of studies of the world.

Located between the charming Jardin du Luxembourg gardens, the majestic Pantheon and very close to the banks of the river Seine, that very characterful neighbourhood of the French Capital still retains that magnificent atmosphere of the past highlighted by with its narrow and windy streets,charming cafes,lively boulevards and University buildings.

All together those places in a sort of poetic and fascinating mosaic give that corner of one of the most beautiful metropolis of the globe that "touche charmant", a classy touch of charm unique,distinctive and indisputable so visible in a simple walk.

All that is so visible at first sight in its architecture,urban environment and image totally rooted in the soul and spirit of that Parisian quarter.

Paris is magic in all its essence,a city which always is able to offer to the human eye unforgettable views and with a capacity to generate magic sensations something of extremely special in many of its its neighbourhoods which keep with pride their refined,strong and significant  identity after centuries of history.

Also for that the French Capital  is unique and inimitable in its kind,every day,today,tomorrow and for ever.There are many districts in that magnificent Metropolis very  fascinating and certainly emblematic for what they are able to transmit,we could give them many sumptuous adjectives,nicknames or linked to  very popular songs.

 Montparnasse, Le Marais, Saint Germain de Prés, all the area around the notorious theatre L´OperaMontmartre and undoubtedly also the Quartier Latin,all places with a more than captivating appeal able to capture the deepest imagination of every thinker.

All them are under the same sky and name Paris,"La Ville Lumière" the so famous City of Lights which always offers the visitor a sublime and divine impact for its several romantic corners,historic palaces,majestic monuments and those wide magnificent and spectacular squares.

Those long elegant boulevards,luminous and unique in their  kind next to sumptuous gardens are other significant highlights and the Quartier Latin perhaps is that area of the city which for its variety of things was able to keep all those features consecrating itself as one of the most fascinating boroughs inside that magnificent huge urban environment which forms the French Capital.
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That charming district could be related to a famous French song as La Vie en Rose which is the most appropriate as melodic and musical spot for that quarter developed around La Sorbonne.

That  perpetual  lively atmosphere and that marked "joie de vivre" so alive in that place gave many musical inspirations in a cool spring evening or in a late autumn afternoon, in a sunny summer morning or in a romantic winter sunset strolling its streets it is always easy to find something of totally inspiring and that is certainly an aspect which has always characterised Le Quartier Latin. 

Very popular songs by Charles Aznavour,Maurice Chevalier or Yves Montand who with all their famed melodies and  unforgettable  interpretations inspired and delighted a multitude of people from all around the world with Paris as fabulous background or image transmitted in romantic spots to exalt the beauty in a sort of veiled hymn of magnification dedicated to that magic city.

That famous song "La Vie en Rose"musically arranged by the pianist Louis Guglielmi for the unforgettable Edith Piaf reflects the spirit and the essence of such quarter and almost perfect as something of magic with its notes well combined with all there is around that Parisian neighbourhood.

That fantastic music masterpiece which elevated one of the most celebrated French singers of the history was also interpreted in different versions by other prominent artists such as Marlene Dietrich,the previously  mentioned Yves Montand,Louis Armstrong Dalida, Celine Dione and including the three tenors Pavarotti,Domingo and Carreras sang that so famed melody.

A song of love,an indirect dialogue of the artist believing in love,life and those words La Vie en Rose which translation means Life in Pink,in a certain way is more than appropriate for that Parisian district which with its unmistakable magic air is totally identified in the lyrics of that notorious musical composition .

You can put earphones and strolling its streets,alone,in sweet company and including sometimes can happen you can listen the notes of that song coming from one of its Cafes and all is ready for you as a spell starting a visit of a place very difficult to forget.

The Quartier Latin in its kind can represent many things with a very marked identity. For someone could be a very characterful bohemian borough,for other people a place to find simply fun with a little bit of nostalgic and veiled glamour but at the same time you can admire its iconic monuments and all could appear as a place closely related to the conservative and classy France of the past linked to the Roi Soleil, the King Sun and its Monarchy.

At the same time it is also very  trendy for its restaurants which offer the best in terms of "nouvelle cuisine" and the latest best fine wines with many chances to spend an enjoyable evening with a brilliant fan of choices.

That district with its old Bistros can also transmit an atmosphere maybe in some cases considered retro but never demodé. It is established on scenic streets which depict something which for image and aspect you could link to scenes 
described by Emile Zola in its literary masterpieces with protagonists soft lights,old fashioned wooden chairs, bars with  post Renaissance mirrors and some vague Baroque decorations and all that is still appreciated and loved today representing something of eternal and deeply rooted in a very distinguished environment.

You will notice during a walk along the nearest banks of the river Seine all the lights of the majestic grandeur of Paris and the classic noble image of the Jardin de Luxembourg so attractive and unique but in a shoer time you immediately turn in a hidden alley and you will also love those traditional old shops characterised by their wooden painted doors which never changed colour or material since many years ago.

Another special feature of the Quartier Latin is distinctively represented by  its fascinating cobblestone streets which evoke the old Paris of the 19th century but what it is really impressive is that everything lives in perfect harmony. All appears pink as that famous song with a magic air you can breathe in such emblematic place.

Historically that quarter represents  the heart button of the city and part of the centre located on the left side of the river Seine well known as la Rive Gauche de Paris and it is situated between the 5th and 6th Arrondissements which are the Parisian districts subdivided in numbers.

The 5th Arrondissement is concretely the oldest section of the ancient Lutece the Gaul-Roman Paris as revealed by the presence of a relevant number of archaeological remains while the 6th Arrondissement is well known to be home of beautiful gardens,excellent art galleries,charming boulevards which all together are protagonists of a distinctive environment trasmitting the true modern spirit of the French Capital.

A prominent and more than significant landmark is undoubtedly La Sorbonne, the oldest University of Paris and  when we say that it gets its name and popularity by the language spoken by students and scholars of the old past,the Latin since the time of the 13th century when that iconic Institution was founded by Robert de Sorbon.

The name Quartier Latin seems to suggest an exotic neighbourhood with an atmosphere and an air full of Spanish,Italian, Portuguese,South and South or Central American. In many cases people link that word (Latin) to ethnic realities such as restaurants,taverns or inhabited by Latin people but despite such denomination it is very Parisian,there is not a lot about that marked word which can tramsmit a concrete identity. 

If we want to find something pretty exotic and culturally coming from distant countries you will find some Oriental Kebabs,Maghreb Restaurants offering a delicious traditional Couscous in proximity of Place Saint Michel (St.Michael Square) and also the Arab World Institute.

The aspect of that quarter is very identified in the city,very French, distinctively so Parisian but at the same time very vibrant and thanks to its busy and inviting cafes open day and night all year overflowing by locals and tourists  there is always a sort of atmosphere of "Fiesta" which could be linked just a little bit to that distinguished word.

Sorbonne students,eclectic, talented artists,inspired painters in several corners and bohemian people reading a book in a Bistro with a glass of fine wine or a cup of selected Cognac are all together part and protagonists of the scenery and all that is the sum and result of a captivating atmosphere in all its essence highlighted by that varied presence of different figures which is something in its kind also extremely captivating.

Since Medieval times that Paris district was well knwn to be a big selling point for students of the Sorbonne University and seat of a cross road of intellectual chats and in a relaxing walk along the Seine you will notice that old tradition continue to be alive as something of indelible and ineradicable.

One of its main street is the famous Boulevard St-Michel and another one is Boulevard St-Germain where along it there is always something to do and find. They  are both two very lively and attractive places, highlighted by their captivating and stylish cafes, trendy boutiques, interesting bookshops and also packed by curious people looking for something to buy or to have a flashy inspiration seeing a rare or an uncommon article or item to purchase to decorate a corner at home.

Some old and distinctive streets are very charming as the picturesque and famous Rue de la Huchette and if you are looking for the old atmosphere which in part of reliving the history of Quartier Latin of the past do not miss a walk all around around the always vibrant iconic Place Saint Michel.

Another option to breathe that unmistakable magic is  strolling the famed Quai des Grands-Augustins or very suggested is Quai Saint-Michel which is the historic place of the famous booksellers who started that activity centuries ago.

A very nice and relevant point to start the visit of that magnificent quarter is certainly the busy and lively previously mentioned Place Saint Michel, an iconic square which is one of the most frequented sites by locals and generally packed by a multitude of tourists.
 
That place is very recommended to enjoy a appetiser or a snack and it is very typical to sit and have a coffee in the notorious Le Départ the Café St-Michel, an emblematic symbol of Quartier Latin and Paris situated in 1 Place St-Michel.

That establishment is considered special and significant to live the captivating atmosphere you will breathe all around that area, a sort of useful introduction  and simply the view of the building with its charming and classy facade and the layout of the tables under a stylish red canopy deserve a first stop.

You can continue later along Boulevard Saint-Michel which is the main axis of the quarter and in that place you can also find some restaurants, excellent destination  if you are in sweet company planning why not a candlelight dinner in that romantic Parisian area.
 
That long boulevard consists in  a great ample avenue flanked by elegant palaces and attractive buildings erected in different periods which reflect with their architectonic silhouettes the significant frame of that borough highlighted by high light facades with charming balconies with stylish iron railings, symmetric windows and splendid portals with some eclectic decorations with access to elegant courtyards.

along Boulevard Saint-Michel just above Jardin du Luxembourg,at the civic number 8 of the street Rue de Vaugirard there is another iconic site of the district La Ferrandaise Restaurant which deserves for its distinctive prestige and fame a stop.


That famous Parisian Bistro despite the popularity of its name and the tourism flows has kept its own identity totally integrated and in perfect harmony with the spirit of Quartier Latin.

It could be a good choice to stop there enjoying a meal tasting a very  excellent beef meat, delicious cheeses but also other some plates combined in a creative Nouvelle Cuisine. At the same time, the establishment also offers traditional gastronomic specialities and as further detail it received some important awards for the quality of food and service.

With a welcoming, stylish and luminous doorway at the entrance,once inside you will notice a very attractive layout with furniture selected with a clever taste combined with wooden chairs,captivating chandeliers, soft light and the bar provides a wide selection of fine wines.It could be a good choice for your dinner or for a pleasant lunch during the visit enjoying there a lovely break.  


An emblematic and characterful landmark of that quarter is certainly La Sorbonne,the iconic Parisian University which took up residence in the old cloister of Notre-Dame on the left bank of the river and since then the entire neighbourhood was marked by superb academic traditions.

The history of that prestigious Institute concretely started in the year 1253 when Robert de Sorbon founded a school for poor students and almost immediately in that time gained international fame.

It is the First University in France,a symbol not only in the city but in the entire country, extremely appreciated all around the world for its name,prestige and historic cultural value.

That distinguished Institution has always been focused on classical studies at high and top level with teachers who were always and constantly chosen after a hard selection because the high sphere managing that famed Academic centre strongly wanted the best.

Many of its most notorious students have attended and participated in most of the history of France and of the World, it is enough to mention some iconic names such as Jean Paul Sartre,Honoré de Balzac,Pierre and Marie Curie but also some other notorious characters such as Thomas Aquinas,Erasmus of Rotterdam,Giordano Bruno,Ignatius of Loyola among many others.

All that also explains the extremely high international reputation which has always placed La Sorbonne among the leading Universities of Europe and in the globe for the long tradition of the methods of study and the philosophy to prepare the pupils once finished their studies in the best way, immediately ready to have a brilliant successful professional career rich of satisfactions. The case of the notorious characters previously mentioned entering in the most emblematic history of the humanity is the confirmation linked to all that.

Just opposite the Sorbonne, for a lovely break you can enjoy another famous place the Brasserie Balzar located in 49 rue des Ecoles.It is considered by someone an eccentric and extravagant place but ideal to taste typical French plates accompanied by fine red and white wines.

It is in addition among of the most favourite places to spend a break for Sorbonne students and teachers since a long time ago but also selected by a good number of tourists who find in that place a more than inviting stop for its very strategic position.

Naturally do not miss a visit to the majestic Panthéon in the square with the same name.That  imposing mausoleum houses the tombs of France's most famous prominent people such as Alexandre Dumas,Emile Zola,François Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau among others.

Considered one of the most photographed Parisian monuments that magnificent Neoclassic masterpiece was erected by the architect Jacques Germain Sufflot  and ended in the year 1789 after 33 years of work.The inspiration was from the Pantheon of Rome,despite the stunning Cupola is pretty linked in appearance to that of St.Paul Cathedral in London.

Simply great is the symmetry of the majestic exterior colonnade forming a wide portico beneath an impressive huge pediment and worth a special mention some architectonic details absolutely stunning as the beautiful Corinthian columns which represent a hymn to the most dinstinctive ancient Hellenic times.

Despite its Neoclassic style mainly adopted for a large part of the construction there are also some details linked to other inspirations and artistic movements such as the vaulted Gothic vaulted nave and the stunning covered domes reminiscent a vague Byzantine silhouette.

That impressive building in furthermore characterised by its superb size, it is 83,0 metres high,110,0 metres long and 84,0 metres wide and it represents in its kind one the most scenic and imposing architectural works present in the city.

Just behind that great masterpiece if you want an alternative to the local previously mentioned to enjoy a pleasant break a right place is certainly the Café Delmas located in a charming square called Place de la Contrescarpe at the civic number 2.That establishment is very cosy offering a very a relaxing atmosphere, providing a good selection of wines,brunches and also an ideal place to enjoy a coffee sitting in its outdoor terrace.

A relevant section of the Quartier Latin was originally an important Gaul-Roman axis, core of the ancient Lutece, old denomination of the current Paris.Due to that you can admire some ancient rests related to the Roman colonisation consisting in the ruins of the famous Arenes de Lutece situated, in 47 Rue Monge, an ancient Imperial theatre which could hold approximately 15,000 people.


Another interesting place to visit is the Jardin Botanique,the Botanical Garden which is very well preserved despite its 500 years of life.It was founded by some physicians during the Monarchy of Louis XIII and it currently contains about 10000 species of plants.Inside it houses the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle,the National Museum of Natural History a very interesting exhibition among the most important in Europe.

Naturally if you are fond about art and museums in the area are concentrated other relevant exhibitions and worth a visit in particular the Musée du Moyen Age,the Medieval Museum also known with the name Musée Cluny located in 6 place Paul Painlevé.

That magnificent Museum is hosted in a structure of great and outstanding architectural importance called Hôtel de Cluny erected in the 14th century concretely in the year 1330. Once inside you can admire the ancient baths of Cluny dating back to the Gaul-Roman period and a famous series of Flemish tapestries of the Lady and the Unicorn.

Other museums suggested naturally depending of your preferences are the Curie Musée and the Museum of the Arab World situated in the Rue des Fosses St-Bernard.

If you move west along the river Seine and down the long Boulevard Saint Germain you will reach in a very short time the 6th District well known as the" 6º Arrondissement.

That area of St Germain de Pres is named after the oldest Church in Paris and it is a corner of the city with several cafes and trendy bars very lively all day, morning and night.

Once there you can see the famous Ecole des Beaux-Arts the Fine Arts School and not far is situated the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens) which is a symbol of the beauty of the Parisian gardens. Since centuries ago during the Monarchy period the entire city was embellished with majestic palaces and that floral masterpiece for its development was a work of the best landscapers coming from all France and Europe.

On the square of the neighbourhood Place St.Germain de Pres do not miss to visit one of the most famous cafes of Paris : Les Deux Magots.That name is well known all around the world because it had as guests several distinguished figures of literature such as Rimbaud, Verlaine,Hemingway,Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Joyce,Picasso and Brecht among others. Considered for its prestige as one of the Top Literary Cafes in the history it is a must to breathe for a while the magic atmosphere of a place which never lost its charm.

That area has always been very appreciated and loved in particular by writers and musicians for its bohemian spirit and that unmistakable magic air and atmosphere around La Sorbonne and Jardin de Luxembourg and worth a mention a street called Rue Jacob on which at the civic number.7 lived the dramatist Jean Racine while at the number 14 you can see the building which was the residence of the composer Richard Wagner and also of the writer Ernest Hemingway.

That famed American writer was a lover of that divine place and as you know that famous artist who was a pioneer of a literature which also transmitted in his style "Tourism" had a very special and particular taste for the the most pure aesthetic beauty and architecture and he chose without hesitations that place during the years of his Parisian soujorn.

Including the mentioned Wagner another prominent artist very famous for his refined preferences and considered a character very selective but deep lover of what of beautiful surrounded him until the sublimation of the ambiance to compose some of his great works decided to fix his beloved haven there.

The immense and divine scenery of Paris with its so many enchanting places offers a lot of stupendous corners to live but probably the Quartier Latin was for them the best,a beloved refuge able to tranmit them deep inspirations in every season and 24 hours a day.

That Parisian quarter is a place so easy to appreciate,that artistic scenery and  captivating bohemian image in all its essence and soul,its windy streets,cosy emblematic cafes situated in charming corners and that  indisputable  identity which preserves after centuries are all aspects which conquer everyone.

For lovers of the nightlife it is very recommended staying in the Latin Quarter near the Seine and the Ile de la Cité. There are very lively Bistros and the famous Georges Cafe is certainly an ideal place to spend a lovely night, It is an establishment highlighted by music and also  suggested to enjoy and taste a wide variety of excellent cocktails and selected wines.

It is very easy during your stay in Paris to fall in love with that Parisian district and once visited it there is always the desire to come back the day after or in another occasion revisiting the French Capital.

During your stay it is very easy to reach that area, some suggestions are for example after the visit of Notre Dame you can reach the Quartier Latin in a very simple way crossing the bridge Pont Au Doble and you will move from the 4th to the 5th Arrondissement directly coming into the district.

By tube you should get off at Saint Michel or Cluny-Sorbonne and then crossing the bridge to get directly to the Panthéon is preferable take the line 10 and stop to the stations Maubert-Mutualitée or Cardinal-Lemoine.

I suggest you some accommodations in some links below the post in the case you are planning to visit the French capital.

The Quartier Latin is an authentic inspiration for romantic lovers,tourists of all ages,artists,thinkers,bohemian and ordinary people too.A special walk in that stunning and special district is something unique and undoubtedly you will want to repeat soon maybe thinking in that song interpreted by several artists.

With that famed song La Vie en Ros or without it will be a see you Paris and see you soon Quartier Latin,"Au Revoir Paris et a Bientôt Quartier Latin"because around La Sorbonne there is always that unmistakable magic air which will capture and fascinate everyone and waiting for you in future once again.

Francesco Mari



Recommended Hotels in the area

Hotel Relais Saint Jacques
Hotel Le Petit Paris
Seven Hotel
Hotel Excelsior Paris
Best Western Hotel Quartier Latin   Pantheón
Hotel Des Grandes Ecoles
Hotel Mercure Paris La Sorbonne