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The Latin Quarter in Paris: 11 of the Best Things to Do & See in the Cultured 5th Arrondissement

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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The Latin Quarter in Paris is a neighborhood most people will find themselves in at one point or another during their time in the city, but I don’t think most people really appreciate it to the fullest extent.

In full transparency, I was one of those people the first time I visited Paris and the Latin Quarter! I went to Shakespeare and Company and stayed around the touristy areas and left feeling like it was kind of a miss of a neighborhood. How wrong I was!

After being in Paris so many times, I’m happy to say that I’ve corrected this misconception. The Latin Quarter is a great area to explore and hang out in, and it’s a neighborhood I always make a point to visit when I come to Paris.

If you want to experience all the best of the Latin Quarter in Paris, you’ve come to the right place. Keep scrolling to read about all the best things to see, do, and eat in the Latin Quarter.

🥐 If you’re in the middle of planning a trip to Paris, check out the rest of my Paris posts and guides!

the latin quarter in paris
the latin quarter in paris

Complete Guide to the Latin Quarter in 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 the Latin Quarter, 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 Latin Quarter in Paris, from the obvious, to the off-the-beaten-path. Let’s get into it!

Best Things to Do in the Latin Quarter

1. Check out the Best Bookstores

the latin quarter in paris bookstore shakespeare and company (2)

The Latin Quarter has some amazing book stores—no big surprise considering how many students frequent the neighborhood. If you, like me, enjoy browsing (and buying from) book shops while you travel, this might be the neighborhood for you!

Shakespeare and Company is obviously one of the most famous bookstores in the city, and in my opinion is a must-visit in Paris. This very charming English bookstore along the Seine was opened during the Lost Generation’s heyday in the 1920s.

I visit every time I’m in Paris, and I love that they stamp the inside cover of your book if you make a purchase! Normally when I’ve visited I’ve been able to walk right in, but the last time I was here there was a massive queue to enter, so be wary of your timing!

the latin quarter in paris bookstore

San Francisco Book Co. is a no-fuss used bookshop (with a huge selection in English) just north of the Jardin du Luxembourg (just on the border of Saint-Germain-des-Prés) where you can always find a gem if you’re willing to hunt! We actually found a first edition of The Quiet American last time we were here, which was super exciting because we were looking for books about Vietnam for an upcoming trip!

The Abbey Bookshop is a great new and used bookstore that’s quite close to Shakespeare and Company. It’s two levels and dedicated to English titles and Canadian books (the owner is from Toronto!). You’re always bound to find a gem here.

2. Rue Mouffetard – Iconic Market Street

the latin quarter in paris rue mouffetard street market

Rue Mouffetard is an iconic, pedestrianized street that locals refer to as “la Mouffe”. It’s one of the oldest streets in Paris (dating back to the Roman period!), and it’s located right in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Luckily, this street was not renovated in the Haussman style, so it’s a unique chance to see a glimpse of the medieval era of Paris. 

The street was also once frequented by Ernest Hemingway, who lived just north of it, at Place de Contrescarpe. It’s also said that Victor Hugo drew inspiration for Les Miserables from the scenes on this street, and that Julia Child was a loyal customer to the shops at the market!

Aside from the rich history of this street, it’s also worthwhile to visit due to the daily market! Between the permanent shops that sell fish, cheese, and sweets (among other things), many sellers come from outside of Paris to set up temporary stalls on the street too. This, combined with the historic look of the street makes for a really interesting experience of strolling up and down to soak in the sights, sounds and smells of the neighborhood.

3. Paradis Latin Cabaret

For those wanting to catch a cabaret show while in Paris, you may want to consider the Paradis Latin Cabaret, which is actually the oldest cabaret in the city! The performance here is fantastic, and apparently the food is pretty good too (though I haven’t tried the dinner service, so I can’t personally vouch for it!).

Cabaret is such a critical part to the city’s history, and I think Paradis is a fun idea if you want to do a less obvious cabaret experience than the Crazy Horse or Moulin Rouge.

4. The Institute of the Arab World

The Institute of the Arab World outside

Institut du Monde Arabe always puts on fascinating exhibitions that showcase the Arab world, so it’s also interesting to check those out if you have time in Paris. It sits right on the Seine so it’s a great location.

I was originally drawn to the space because they also have a stunning rooftop with incredible views of the city. It used to be free to visit, but I believe now you have to visit the cafe in order to access it. In fact, though, the cafe is hugely popular with locals, so this is a great way to access a little slice of daily Parisian life!

5. Musée Curie

Musée Curie the latin quarter in paris nobel prize winner

The Marie Curie Museum is a totally free museum that’s housed in the building where Marie Curie famously made her discoveries about radioactivity that changed the world. Marie Curie is obviously an incredible historical figure, being the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first person ever to win two Nobel Prizes. She was also a professor at the Sorbonne.

Anyone interested in history or science (or both) will probably enjoy this museum. It has a lot of antique scientific pieces and a lovely little garden.

6. Hang out with a Latin Quarter local!

If you’ve been here long enough (or if you’ve checked out any of my guides to other Paris neighborhoods!) you’ll know that finding a local to show me around is always a top priority when I travel—and especially when I want to dive into a specific neighborhood. What better way to catch a vibe that seeing an area through the eyes of someone who lives it every day?!

Luckily, the Latin Quarter is teeming with young people (often students) who know the area like the back of their hand. Here are some excellent options for walking tours of the Latin Quarter guided by locals:

7. The National Museum of the Middle Ages

The National Museum of the Middle Ages in the latin quarter in paris

Another lesser known museum in Paris is the Museum of the Middle Ages. This is a great option for history lovers, and anyone who is tired of fighting tourist crowds at every museum they visit.

There’s an impressive tapestry collection, as well as the Roman-Gallo baths that date back to the 3rd century. 

You can also enjoy the lovely garden that provides a quiet escape from the city.

8. Les Bouquinistes 

les bouquinistes de la Seine on the left bank is one of the best things to do in paris the latin quarter in paris

This isn’t something you can only do in the Latin Quarter, but I find that it’s easy to start (or end) here since you can find them right outside of Shakespeare and Company. 

Along the banks of the Seine throughout the center part of Paris you’ll come across les bouquinistes: vendors selling used books, vintage maps, posters, and souvenirs. Sometimes you’ll only find touristic things, but patience can sometimes yield treasures like vintage posters or first-edition books!

This tradition of riverside vendors dates back to the 16th century, so you’ll really be taking part in an age-old Parisian pastime.

Top Things to See in the Latin Quarter 

9. The Panthéon

the pantheon in the latin quarter in paris

The Panthéon in Paris was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, so may look familiar to you if you’ve visited. 

This impressive structure is now the resting place of some of the most important figures in Parisian (and French) history, like Victor Hugo, Voltaire, and Marie Curie. 

If you choose to go inside you can see murals, Foucault’s pendulum, and if you’re feeling up to it, you can climb the stairs to the upper part of the dome for a stunning view of the city. You will need a ticket though—which can be booked ahead of time here! So if you’d rather not pay, you can just admire it from the outside.

10. Jardin des Plantes

Jardin des Plantes in the latin quarter in paris

The Jardin des Plantes is a bit of a hidden gem, as it doesn’t get as much attention as some of the better known gardens in Paris—and in a city like Paris, a hidden gem is seriously exciting. It was originally created in the 17th century by Louis XIII in order to grow medicinal plants, and has been used for years for educating scientists.

Today though, it’s the botanical garden of Paris—and actually the main botanical garden in all of France! It also has plenty to entertain you for an afternoon: there’s a zoo, several galleries, greenhouses, a winter garden, a carousel, and more. The Natural History Museum is also located within the gardens!

Also, just across the way you’ll find the Grande Mosquee de Paris. You can appreciate the stunning architecture and gardens, as well as the restaurant, tearoom and hammam spa!

​​11. Boulevard Saint-Michel

Boulevard Saint-Michel and fountain saint michel in the latin quarter in paris

Boulevard Saint-Michel is the only example you’ll find in the Latin Quarter of the Haussmann-style wide thoroughfares that Paris is known for, and is one of only two in the entire Left Bank (the other is in Saint-Germain). 

This particular boulevard marks the boundary between the 5th and 6th arrondissements, and as you stroll along it you’ll find loads of shops, cafes and even cinemas. It’s a far way off from the narrow and winding medieval streets that make up the rest of the Latin Quarter, which makes it interesting to see.

Where to Eat in the Latin Quarter

There are so many places to eat in the Latin Quarter in Paris that it felt super difficult to narrow them all down, but boy did I try!

Below you’ll find all my top picks—most of them I’ve gone to, some of them I’m desperate to go to, 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).

les artes corner cafe in latin quarter paris - things to do in paris

For Breakfast

  • Dose – breakfast and brunch cafe
  • Strada – breakfast, specialty coffee, cafe
  • Nuance Café – breakfast and brunch, pastries and coffee

For Lunch

where to eat in the latin quarter in paris

For Dinner

  • La Tour d’Argent – traditional, upscale French along the Seine
  • Bouillon Racine – lunch or dinner elevated classics and great wine, seasonal menu, Art Nouveau space
  • Le Coupe-Chou – romantic and old school French spot
  • Le Polidor – lunch and dinner, traditional French, incredible interior, been around since 1800s
  • Prosper et Fortunée – super upscale, great dining experience
where to eat in the latin quarter in paris

For Everything Else

Where to Stay in the Latin Quarter

I hope this post has painted a portrait for you of the much quieter, locally-oriented Paris that you absolutely should explore in the Latin Quarter—especially on a longer (or your second or third) visit to Paris.

For those interested in a truly peaceful stay, the Latin Quarter offers some of the best hotels in Paris for families, or for slower paced travelers! Check out some of my favorite Paris left bank boutique hotels below.

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

Les Jardins Du Luxembourg hotel in the Latin Quarter of Paris

Hôtel Les Jardins Du Luxembourg

| 4 Star | Breakfast in Bed | 4- & 5-Bed Rooms

Visiting the Jardin du Luxembourg is one of my favorite things to do in Paris, so the Hôtel Les Jardins Du Luxembourg—literally steps from the garden itself—couldn’t be better located. Rooms are newly(ish) decorated, and while the style isn’t anything innovative, it’s still cute! Being located in an 19th century Hausmannian townhouse, how could it not be? Also, there are several rooms with 4-5 beds, making this place great for families too!

Photo: Booking.com

PEPPER & PAPER Apartments Paris, luxury accommodation in the Latin Quarter

PEPPER & PAPER Apartments

| 4 Star | Laundry | Up to 6 Beds

Families or groups visiting Paris shouldn’t sleep on PEPPER & PAPER! Not only is every unit adorably decorated for the perfect home-y atmosphere, but this place’s amenities will have you thanking your lucky stars you didn’t end up in an Airbnb—from an onsite laundry room, to a board game library, to accommodations for pets, to… a pizza oven in the garden!?

Photo: Booking.com

Hôtel Jardin de Cluny, one of the best boutique Paris hotels in the Latin Quarter

Hôtel Jardin de Cluny

€€€ | 4 Star | Central | “Green”

Not only is Hôtel Jardin de Cluny lauded for its commitment to the environment… it is truly obsessed with plants! From rooms called The Nest to The Botanist to The Secret Garden, every room here is overflowing with warm colors, plush furnishings, and floral motifs Renovated in 2022, the whole place is sort of giving Art Deco. The bathrooms here are especially pretty, and did I mention it’s a 2-minute walk to Notre-Dame?

Photo: Booking.com

Les Rives de Notre-Dame, beautiful Latin Quarter hotel in Paris

Les Rives de Notre-Dame

€€€ | 4 Star | Notre-Dame Views

With only 10 rooms, Les Rives de Notre-Dame is an intimate find set right on the banks of the Seine—all rooms have views of the river and many have views of the cathedral itself. The hotel itself calls its rooms “romantic chic” which I think is fitting (and true), but let’s be honest… you’re really choosing this place for its perfect location and excellent reviews.

Photo: Booking.com

FAQs about the Latin Quarter in Paris:

Is Latin Quarter in Paris worth visiting?

Yes, the Latin Quarter in Paris is most definitely worth visiting while you’re there. Situated just across the river from Le Marais, the Latin Quarter has all sorts of cafes and shops to explore. It also is home to the Sorbonne, so has a student feel to it.

The Latin Quarter in Paris is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, so it can be really cool to stroll and explore the medieval feeling of all the narrow streets and buildings.

It also has a bit of a literary past, as it was home to Ernest Hemingway when he first moved to Paris, and James Joyce while he wrote Ulysses. I always make sure to spend some time in the Latin Quarter in Paris when I visit.

medieval street in the latin quarter in paris

Is Latin Quarter too touristy?

Honestly, no, I don’t think that the Latin Quarter in Paris is too touristy.

The thing about the Latin Quarter is that it’s actually pretty big, and lots of people only spend time in the (admittedly) more touristy areas.

However, there’s much more to this neighborhood than its most touristy side!

I hope this guide can show you all the other sides to the Latin Quarter in Paris.

rue mouffetard in the latin quarter in paris

How do you spend a day in Latin Quarter Paris?

No day in the Latin Quarter is complete without a trip to Shakespeare and Company bookstore.

Spending time exploring the stacks here is a must during your time in Paris, and if you’re so inclined you can visit their cafe next door as well.

You should also take the time to see the Sorbonne, Pantheon, botanical gardens, and Rue Moffetard. Lovers of Paris’s literary past should also make sure to check out Ernest Hemingway’s first apartment, and James Joyce’s old flat down the road!

Ready to explore the Latin Quarter in Paris?

Writing this has lowkey made me jealous that you’ll be in the Latin Quarter soon! I need to plan another trip. 

Until then, be sure to tag me in any and all travel content, and let me know in the comments if there’s anything you think I missed!

If you’re still planning, be sure to check out all my other posts about Paris so you can have the best trip ever.

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