paris neighborhoods st-germain-des-Prés the 6th arrondissement: jardin du luxembourg

St-Germain-des-Prés Paris: 9 Best Things to See & Do

Saint-Germain-des-Prés resonates with the enchanting aura of the Lost Generation, making it one of my absolute favorite neighborhoods in Paris. My compelte guide to Saint-Germain-des-Prés divulges hidden gems and iconic spots: literary cafes, Le Bon Marché, L’Odéon theater, and local-led tours. From chic dining to historic sights, explore this artistic haven, where nostalgia meets contemporary allure.
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I don’t think it’s possible for me to pick a “favorite” Paris neighborhood, but St-Germain-des-Prés does come pretty close!

It’s my top recommendation for the Paris best area to stay for first time visitors, and it’s one of my favorite areas to explore and flâneur in.

I always spend a lot of time in St-Germain-des-Prés and the rest of the 6th arrondissement when I visit Paris because I have a total nostalgic obsession with the Lost Generation. 1920s Paris is just gonna do it for me every time, and this neighborhood happens to have a lot of the history of that period baked into it.

St-Germain-des-Prés is technically a pretty small area within the 6th arrondissement, so some of this post will actually push the boundaries a bit and you’ll hear about some of the best stuff to see and do just outside the neighborhood borders.

If you’re looking to explore St-Germain-des-Prés, look no further than this area guide. I’m going to walk you through all the best things to see and do, all my favorite places to eat and drink, and even give my top places to stay. So start scrolling, and be ready to take notes!

Map thanks to Wanderlog, a vacation planner app on iOS and Android

Delve into France

Complete Guide to St-Germain-des-Prés, Paris

The thing about most neighborhoods in any city is that there isn’t always going to be a lot “to do” since everything “to do” is spread out all over the city! In Saint Germain des-Prés, like my other favorite Paris neighborhoods, the best thing to do is often to just hang out, walk around, and get lost in the ambience of the city!

That being said, I’ve rounded up all the best things to do and see in the St Germain neighborhood Paris, from the obvious, to the off-the-beaten-path.

Let’s get into it!

st-germain-des-Prés on saint germain in the 6th arrondissement metro

Things to Do in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

1. Visit the literary cafes of Boulevard Saint-Germain

st-germain-des-Prés cafe des flores brasserie on saint germain boulevard in the 6th arrondissement

If you, like me, want to get in touch with the literary past of Paris, then Saint Germain des Prés is your neighborhood! The easiest way to follow in the footsteps of the Lost Generation (among many other writers too), is by hanging out at the famous cafes on the Boulevard Saint-Germain.

One corner in particular is home to three famous cafes/brasseries, and lucky for you, it also happens to be conveniently located just steps outside of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés metro station.

Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots are across the street from one another, and are the most famous of the three. Hemingway was a frequent patron, as was Simone De Beuvoir and Oscar Wilde. I personally prefer Les Deux Magots, but if you’re just getting a quick coffee or drink, whichever one has a better seat is totally fine! 

st-germain-des-Prés cafe des flores saint germain

Another option on the other side of the boulevard is Brasserie Lipp, which is really more of a sit down restaurant, but was also a popular spot for the writers of the 1920s.

Even if you don’t want to stop in and sit at any of these places, you can at least stroll down the boulevard and imagine yourself in 1920s Paris.

A fun fact is that Boulevard Saint-Germain is one of only two traditional, wide Haussman-style thoroughfare boulevards in the Left Bank (the other is in the Latin Quarter). 

If you want even more of the Lost Generation’s Paris, I recommend reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, which paints a stunning picture of the city, and offers loads of places you can explore on a self guided tour!

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

2. Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche and the Grande Épicerie de Paris

saint-germain-des-pres-6th-arrondissement-Le-Bon-Marche-Rive-Gauche

Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche and the Grande Épicerie de Paris are some of the fancier shops you’ll come across in the 6th arrondissement. You’ll definitely need to have some loose purse straps if you want to shop at either of these places, but I like to recommend them even just for a browse!

Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche is kind of the closest thing to a shopping mall Paris has. It’s a department store in the 6th arrondissement that has some stunning luxury brands, but the real appeal for me is the cool aesthetic of the interior. It’s worth poking around just to take a peak, but maybe if you’re looking to treat yourself you can get a little something as well! My favorite view is the iconic one that looks at the sleek, tiled escalators.

La Grande Épicerie de Paris is a similar experience, but it’s only for food. If you wanted to really ball out on your picnic at the Jardin du Luxembourg, this is where you’d go to stock up. I think it’s the perfect way to enjoy the luxury of French foods, and just treat yourself for your picnic!

3. L’Odéon – Théâtre de l’Europe 

st-germain-des-Prés on saint germain in the 6th arrondissement odeon theatre de l'europe

L’Odéon is a theatre in the 6th arrondissement, just south of St-Germain-des-Prés, that puts on some seriously impressive performances.

They’re mostly (if not always) done in French, but often you can find performances with English subtitles, so check the website ahead of time if you want to try to attend one of those performances. 

If you’d rather just enjoy the theatre as a daytime visitor, there’s a cafe and bookstore for you to enjoy!

4. Spend some time with a Saint-Germain local!

I love taking a walking tour to get to know a city better. Even in a neighborhood like Saint-Germain-des-Prés—which has endless activities for tourists—it can be refreshing to see the area through the eyes of someone who knows it inside out!

Here are some of my favorite opportunities to connect with a local in Saint-Germain:

This lifestyle tour of St-Germain-des-Prés will let you spend the afternoon with a neighborhood local, who will show you all the best bookshops, boutiques, galleries, and gourmet shops in the area! As I always say, whiling the away the day popping into little shops and chatting with a friend is one of my very favorite activities to do on a trip, so this tour has my name on it.

Many of the tours from Not a Tourist (a company entirely focused on off-the-beaten track experiences in Paris) a based in Saint-Germain—and all of them sound extremely interesting! From their Discount Couture shopping trip to their Writers and Painters tour focused on the Lost Generation, I super appreciate the focused and interest-specific aspect of their tours and highly recommend them!

Finally, for those who have come to Paris to eat, eat, eat (if so, I can’t blame you one bit!!) this guided food tour of Saint-Germain or this specific pastry and chocolate tour of Saint-Germain are both highly reviewed and will likely be an excellent fit.

5. Picnic at Jardin du Luxembourg

st-germain-des-Prés on saint germain in the 6th arrondissement jardin du luxembourg

The Jardin du Luxembourg is a classic for a reason. This park is beloved by tourists and locals alike, and it’s without a doubt one of my favorite places to spend time in Paris. It’s a great place to spend some time unwinding after a day of exploring St-Germain-des-Prés or to just stroll through and enjoy the lovely greenery. 

My favorite ways to enjoy the Jardin du Luxembourg are either with a picnic on one of areas you can sit on the grass (ideally with way too many goodies) or scoring one of the chairs that has a slight recline to them, snagging one of the regular chairs for my feet, and reading a book for a while. 

You can also check out the Musée du Luxembourg to see if they have a temporary exhibit on!

6. Shopping 

boulevard saint germain shopping adventure

St-Germain-des-Prés is well known for being a great shopping area in Paris. Personally, I think shopping in the St Germain neighborhood Paris is way better than wading through tourists on the Champs-Élysées, and is a much more enjoyable experience all around.

Some of my favorite shops in the area are: Trudon, for (very luxury) candles, Officine Universelle Buly 1803 for a very cute apothecary aesthetic of a perfume store, L/UNIFORM for very cool custom bags, Librairie Alain Brieux for oddities and antiquities, Assouline Paris for coffee table books, and Mes Demoiselles for bohemian French fashion.

St-Germain-des-Prés is also (a bit randomly) known for having some great chocolate shops. Debauve et Gallais, Pierre Marcolini and Jean-Charles Rochoux are my favorites.

I recommend strolling around the area to see what other quaint streets and shops you can find! That said, if you find yourself slightly overwhelmed by the many options above and need a bit of guidance, this Discount Couture guided shopping trip of Saint-Germain might be just the thing you need!

st-germain-des-Prés haussman apartment on saint germain boulevard in the 6th arrondissement
st-germain-des-Prés haussman best paris hotel on saint germain boulevard in the 6th arrondissement

Things to See in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Ticking a bunch of tourist attractions off my list is never my main priority when traveling, but I do like to be aware of all the sights that are around me, because sometimes you’ll find yourself nearby, and sometimes you’ll find the main sights super interesting!

Just because it’s touristy or cliche doesn’t mean it’s bad!! So if you’re interested in hearing about the sights in St-Germain-des-Prés, look no further.

7. Saint Germain des Prés church

st-germain-des-Prés church cathedral on saint germain boulevard in the 6th arrondissement

The Saint-Germain-des-Prés church is historically very important to the neighborhood, given that it’s its namesake! It’s one of the oldest churches in Paris, dating back to the 500s, and has seen many important historical events in the city take place.

If you want to check it out today, you can see it from the outside and the inside for free. In all honesty, I’ve never bothered to go inside because I’m just not really a church girl when traveling anymore, but I wanted to include it because I know some people enjoy seeing all the old historic churches in Europe!

8. The Pont des Arts

pont des arts saint germain des pres paris 6th arrondissement love bridge

Arguably the most famous bridge in Paris, the Pont des Arts links the St Germain neighborhood with the center of Paris. Even if you don’t know it by name, you know its lore: this is the (in)famous love lock bridge!

Thousands of padlocks once covered this bridge, placed there by lovers who would write their names on the lock, attach it to the bridge, and then throw away the key into the Seine as a symbol of their unending love. 

pont des arts saint germain des pres paris 6th arrondissement love bridge

Unfortunately, due to the weight of the incredible number of locks attached, part of the bridge collapsed in 2014, so the city has removed a lot of the locks.

Technically the practice was never really allowed in the first place, but now with the safety concerns, it’s really not advised—though plenty of people do it anyway, and you can see tons of locks still there today.

However, I don’t personally feel right about recommending it, which is why this is in the “see” section and not the “do” section.

9. Cour du Commerce Saint-André

st-germain-des-Prés on saint germain in the 6th arrondissement Cour du Commerce Saint-André

Cour du Commerce Saint-André has an important history dating back to the 18th century and the French Revolution. This street used to be a meeting place for revolutionaries, and it’s said that this is where the guillotine was invented! 

The cafe Le Procope that sits in the passage is said to be the oldest in Paris, so be sure to grab a terrace table and have a cocktail or glass of wine in this historic spot. Apparently they even have Napoleon’s hat on display!

Where to Eat in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

There are so many great places to eat in the St Germain neighborhood Paris that it felt impossible to narrow them down, but I think I did okay!

Below you’ll find some of my favorite places. I’ve been to a lot of them, some of them I’m desperate to go to, and all of them I stand behind! I gave a little description of why I’d go there, and they’re all linked to Google Maps (one of my ride or die travel resources).

st-germain-des-Prés on saint germain in the 6th arrondissement crepe brunch what to eat

For Breakfast

For Lunch

st-germain-des-Prés on saint germain in the 6th arrondissement what to eat

For Dinner 

  • Shu (contemporary Japanese)
  • Semilla (modern French with a mediterranean influence)

For Anytime

  • Le Procope (lunch or dinner, oldest cafe in Paris, classic French)
  • Bouillon Chartier (all day, kind of on the edge of the 6th, but the interior is worth it)
  • Yoshinori (lunch or dinner, very fancy, French with a Japanese influence)
  • Marcello (lunch or dinner, rustic Italian)
  • Ze Kitchen Galerie (lunch or dinner, modern French)
  • Oktobre (all day, modern French with an Asian influence)
  • Ambos (lunch or dinner, modern French right off of the Jardin du Luxembourg)
  • Brasserie Des Prés (all day, classic cozy French, great aesthetic)
  • Le Relais de l’Entrecôte (lunch and dinner, super traditional and old school French)
  • Freddy’s (lunch & dinner, trendy restaurant,  small plates)
  • Kodawari Ramen (all day, very popular ramen)
st-germain-des-Prés on saint germain in the 6th arrondissement art nouveau brunch what to eat

For Everything Else

Where to Stay in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

I’ll be honest and say that most of the hotels in Saint-Germain are giving grandma and grandpa vibes. Frankly, not even grandparent-chic. Just dated and, well, tired.

But, if this post has convinced you that you absolutely need to stay in the same neighborhood as your favorite Lost Generation author or within walking distance of the best shopping, I’ve managed to still dig up a few excellent hotel options that actually do have some really good vibes.

👉🏼 Check out my full guide to the best boutique hotels in Paris! 👈🏼

Hôtel Saint-André des Arts in Saint-Germain, Paris

Hôtel Saint-André des Arts

€€ | 4 Star | 70s Chic | Spa

Occupying a former artists’ pension (sort of like a boarding house), Hôtel Saint-André des Arts takes inspiration from its own history. Funky bespoke furniture, pop art carpeting, and colorful tile combine to cultivate a retro chic vibe. Plus, it’s literally a 10 minute walk to the Louvre, Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Co., and the Jardin Du Luxembourg. Doesn’t get much more central than that.

Photo: Booking.com

Hôtel Artus design hotel in Saint-Germain, Paris

Hôtel Artus

€€ | 4 Star | 50s Chic | Accessible Rooms

If the 70s don’t do it for you, how about the late 50s?! Walk into Hôtel Artus and you’ll probably feel like you’ve walked into an episode of Mad Men! With funky retro touches incorporated throughout, this hotel hearkens back to Saint-Germain’s golden age. There’s even a duplex room for groups, and I hear you can also snag a private roof terrace in the Suite Exclusive. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the spa!

Photo: Booking.com

L'Hotel luxury Paris hotel in Saint-Germain

L’Hôtel

€€€ | 5 Star | “World’s Oldest Boutique Hotel” | Palatial Opulence

With a name like L’Hôtel, this place knows it doesn’t need to do much to reel you in—yet it does anyway. Dripping in luxury, the rooms here will remind you every minute that the place has been open since 1828, was the final residence of Oscar Wilde, and served as a favorite stay for the likes of everyone from Salvador Dali to Elizabeth Taylor. Don’t forget to check out the subterranean pool and spa either!

Photo: Booking.com

st-germain-des-Prés on saint germain in the 6th arrondissement art nouveau brunch what to eat

Frequently Asked Questions about Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Is Saint Germain a good area in Paris?

Yes, Saint Germain is a great area in Paris, both to explore and to stay in. It’s an incredibly safe, and beautiful, part of Paris. The area is well located in the center of the Left Bank, making it a perfect base for those wanting to explore the big sights like the Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay, and Jardin du Luxembourg.

What I especially like about Saint Germain des Prés is that, unlike some of the other neighborhoods that are located nearby to major attractions, Saint Germain still retains a lot of life and cultural energy to it!

st-germain-des-Prés on saint germain in the 6th arrondissement street artist and bike

What is St Germain area known for?

The St Germain area of Paris is known for being the hub of the cultural and artistic community in Paris in the 20th century. Well known names like Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and Simone De Beauvoir gave St Germain the reputation of artistic and intellectual hub that we all know it for now.

Today, the cafes that were frequented by these now famous artists and thinkers are packed with tourists who want to step into the world of the Lost Generation themselves!

st-germain-des-Prés on saint germain in the 6th arrondissement apartments

Is Saint-Germain-des-Prés worth visiting?

Yes, the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of Paris is definitely worth visiting. It’s a great area to do some shopping, and my top pick for where to stay in Paris for your first time. It’s an absolute must visit for anyone who’s interested in the literary past of Paris, or anyone who’s a fan of literature from the Lost Generation.

If that doesn’t apply to you, it’s still worth checking out. It’s a quiet area that’s well located to many sites and attractions. There are loads of great shops and restaurants in this area, and it’s perfect for strolling around and enjoying the vibes of Paris. 

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

Ready to explore St Germain?

I hope this post has made you super inspired and excited to visit the Saint Germain area of Paris!! 

If you have any questions, comments, or think I might have missed something, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email! 

You can also always find me on Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, and my newsletter.

Happy traveling!

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The Latin Quarter in Paris holds treasures stretching far beyond its touristy façade. Over time, my perceptions have shifted from a miss to an absolute must-visit, and this guide unlocks the Latin Quarter’s true charm, from local hangouts to bookstores, museums, and eateries. Come along to explore the Latin Quarter’s literary history, iconic streets, and lesser-known gems with me!

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