Saint-Germain-des-Prés (6th Arr) Walking Tour, Paris (Self Guided)

This tour takes you to explore the 6th arrondissement, covering Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter, the River side districts and the areas nearby the Luxembourg Garden. It is one of the most expensive districts of Paris, home to posh boutiques, eateries and iconic cafes once favored by legendary writers, the likes of Hemingway and Camus. The area is particularly renowned for its unique architecture, rich history, and deeply rooted intellectual tradition. On this tour you will visit Saint Germain des Prés - the oldest church in Paris, Jardin du Luxembourg, Le Palais de Luxembourg and other notable sights.
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Saint-Germain-des-Prés (6th Arr) Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Saint-Germain-des-Prés (6th Arr) Walking Tour
Guide Location: France » Paris (See other walking tours in Paris)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 km
Author: karen
Place Saint-Michel

1) Place Saint-Michel

Place Saint-Michel lies in the Latin Quarter in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, on the Left Bank of the Seine. The square is formed by crossroads of several streets, namely: Quai Saint-Michel, Boulevard Saint-Michel, Quai des Grandes-Augustus, and Pont Saint-Michel. The square is also home to the namesake fountain - Foutaine Saint-Michel - built by Gabriel Davioud in the mid 19th century. The original plan was to make its central statue the one of Napoleon Bonaparte, but, after criticism from opponents of the demoted Emperor, they decided to make it of Saint Michael, the Archangel. In keeping with the religious theme, the composition includes two statues of dragons, pouring water out of their mouths, and four figures of classical cardinal virtues.

Over the years, Place Saint-Michel has witnessed a number of public demonstrations, including that symbolizing French resistance to the Nazi occupation during World War II. In 1968, Sorbonne students occupied the square, declaring it an independent state, despite the police clubbing the protesters and shelling them with tear gas. It was also a venue of the mass workers movement which led to the downfall of De Gaulle's government. Nicknamed Washington Square Park of Paris, Place Saint-Michel has been a favorite hangout for all sorts of “free-minded” folk: hippies, artists, writers, poets, dancers, musicians and students. The St. Michel high road is an interesting place in its own right. It has a number of cafes and bistros in its higher end, which are usually less crowded and much more authentic. Many good book-stores and stalls are found here as well. Considering that Sorbonne University is just a few blocks away, you can see regular droves of students browsing through the books in a search of bargains on their required reading.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Bouquinistes de Paris

2) Bouquinistes de Paris

The Bouquinistes de Paris is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris on the banks of the river Seine. The market is open daily and hosts 240 bouquinistes, which offer more than 300,000 rare antique books, journals, stamps, trading cards and many more. Although the bouquinistes appeared in the 16th century, they were not officially recognized until the 1970s. The Bouquinistes de Paris is one of the sites included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Cafe Procope

3) Cafe Procope

The tour continues with the well known Cafe Procope - the oldest cafe in Paris in continuous operation, located on rue de l'Ancienne Comedie. It was opened in 1686 by Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli with a slyly subversive name adopted from the historian Procopius, whose Secret History, the Anekdota, long known of, had been discovered in the Vatican Library and published for the first time ever in 1623: it told the scandals of Emperor Justinian, his ex-dancer Empress, and his court. It was frequently visited by iconic French figures like Voltaire, Danton, Robespierre, etc. What makes this cafe original is its epic decor that takes you back to the 17th century and the excellent dishes they serve there.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Musee National Eugene Delacroix

4) Musee National Eugene Delacroix

The Musée national Eugène Delacroix is an art museum dedicated to painter Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863). The museum is located in painter Eugène Delacroix's last apartment; he moved to this location on December 28, 1857, and remained until his death on August 13, 1863. In 1929, the Société des Amis d'Eugène Delacroix was formed to prevent the building's destruction; in 1952, the Société acquired the apartment, studio, and garden, and in 1954 donated the property to the French government. In 1971, the site became a national museum, and in 1999 its garden was renovated. Léon Printemps had his studio in this same building, where he died on 9 July 1945. Today the museum contains Delacroix's memorabilia and works, exhibiting pictures from nearly every phase of his career, including the artist's only three attempts at fresco from Valmont (1834); the Education of the Virgin painted in Nohant in 1842; and Magdalene in the Desert exhibited at the 1845 Salon.

Operation hours: Monday, Wednesday - Sunday: 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Carre Rive Gauche

5) Carre Rive Gauche

Carre Rive Gauche is located in the 7th arrondissement between St. Germain des Pres and Musee d'Orsay. It is a Parisian antique shopping district that features more than 120 galleries, antique shops and auction houses. Over here, you can find furniture, sculptures, paintings, tapestries and a multitude of other antiques from various centuries. Its top attractions are represented by Le Louvre des Antiquaires, Drouot auction house and the St. Paul Village. Carre Rive Gauche is considered to be a reference point in the world of art, due to the multitude of antique connoisseurs and passionate collectors concentrated in this district.

Operation hours: Monday - Saturday: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Saint Germain des Pres

6) Saint Germain des Pres (must see)

Saint Germain des Prés is the oldest church in Paris. It was established by Childebert on the site of a small marketplace, near the abbey of St. Germain, and was meant to house the True Cross relic, brought from Spain in 542. In the Middle Ages, the church grew very influential as both a religious and cultural institution. Although eventually, the neighboring abbey was totally destroyed by the Normans, the church itself has survived.

In 1163, it was expanded and re-consecrated by Pope Alexander III. The new building is an excellent example of Romanesque architecture. The square tower, dating back to the early 11th century, is topped by a 19th-century landmark spire. Inside the church are a Romanesque nave and a Gothic choir with gilded capitals. The marble columns are the only survivors of the 6th-century abbey church, which was once a pantheon for Merovingian kings. The pillars are carved with copies of the capitals, the originals of which are kept in the Musée National du Moyen-Age. During the 1981 restoration works, a number of Romanesque paintings were discovered on the triumphal arch. Recitals, featuring Gregorian singing, are often held here, due to the building's excellent acoustics and medieval ambiance.

Why You Should Visit:
On entering this church you are struck by how colorful the walls and ceiling are. Very beautiful interior. Also, the small park space outside is a nice peaceful place to sit and relax for a while.

Be sure and let your eyes travel from the base of the columns all the way to the ceiling. Every inch/centimeter is decorated!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 8am-7:45pm; Sun: 9am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Saint-Sulpice Church

7) Saint-Sulpice Church

The Saint-Sulpice Church is the second largest Roman Catholic church in Paris. Saint Sulpicius, patron of the church, was a 7th-century bishop of Bourges, renowned for his godliness and confrontation with the dictatorship of the Merovingian kings. The construction started in 1646 and lasted 100 years until full completion. During the French Revolution, the church was badly damaged and converted into a “Temple of Victory.” Later, in the 19th century, it was fully restored and redecorated into a fine piece of architecture. During the day, sunlight pours inside the building through the large arched windows, revealing elegant columns, including two mismatched ones, that line the hall. A couple of enormous shells, resting on the rock-like bases, are present at either side of the front door. These were sculpted by Jean-Baptise Pigalle and given to the French government as a gift. A fountain, displaying sculptures of four bishops of the Louis XIV era, stands in the church square.

A distinguished role, attached to the Saint-Sulpice in the recent best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, has rendered the church much popular with tourists. A golden line, implanted in grey granite, which runs across the floor and bears graduated markings like a ruler, is a gnomon - a pagan astronomical device used as a sundial. The line was laid in 1727 by a clock maker and astronomer in a bid to fix the date of Easter. Tourists, scientists, historians and pagans from around the world flock to the place just to see this now famous device. The St. Sulpice also houses one of the finest pipe organs in the world, with 6,500 pipes, 102 stops, and five layered keyboards. The previous organ of 1781 was replaced by the new one in 1862. Even those who are not interested in organ music are amazed by the sheer size of this massive instrument - over 20 meters in height. Whereas people with an ear for organ music must certainly attend this church on Sunday and hear one of its free weekly organ concerts.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Musee d’Histoire de la Medecine

8) Musee d’Histoire de la Medecine

The Musée d’Histoire de la Médecine (the Museum of History of Medicine) occupies the second floor of Renee Descartes University in Paris. It was founded in 1803 on the grounds of the former College and Academy of Surgery. The museum is divided into two levels; the lower level, containing furniture and cabinetry, and the upper floor, displaying medical instruments in glass cases. Many strange artifacts are found in the museum, including creepy old medical tools, anatomical models, and odd artificial limbs. One of the most wicked items on display is the small circular table, standing by the staircase. If you look closely, you may notice that it's made entirely of human body parts - petrified brains, blood, bile, liver, lungs and glands, a foot, four ears and sections of vertebrae. The table was presented to Napoleon III by an Italian naturalist doctor in 1866.

The collection was started in the 18th century by Dean Lafaye, professor of the Faculty of Medicine. In 1795, it was moved to an attic, where it remained for 150 years, until the college administration agreed to show it to the public. The museum reopened its doors, as part of Renee Descartes University, in 1955. Medical doctors from around the world are often guests here. There is also a public library with a massive collection of historical texts. Alongside surgical instruments, garnered over the course of 150 years from 1750 to 1900, the museum features portraits and biographies of famous surgeons. Several college deans have been “immortalized” here. If you are a fan of medicine or a doctor yourself, do not miss a chance to visit this relatively small, but absolutely remarkable museum. It takes only an hour to explore and is delightfully scary!

Operation hours: Monday - Wednesday, Friday - Saturday: 2:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Odeon Theatre de l'Europe

9) Odeon Theatre de l'Europe

The Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe is one of France's six national theaters. It was built between 1779 and 1782 in the garden of the former Hotel de Conde, and was purposed to house the Comédie Française. The famous play “The Marriage of Figaro” was premiered here two years later. The Odéon theater in Paris made history after it was inaugurated by Marie-Antoinette on April 9, 1782. It was the first theater with a proscenium arch where the audience in the hall was seated on benches. Named the Second Théâtre Français, it became the first theatre in France to present Shakespeare in English. But the Odéon is more than just a historic attraction. It is a piece of living history, intended to bring change in an individual much as in the entire community. In the early 1820s, the theatre had an excellent orchestra. Operas, ballets and plays were performed here with great success. It was here that in 1825 Berlioz heard, for the first time, Weber’s Der Freischütz. In 1826-7, he himself wanted to stage at the Odéon his early opera Les Francs Juges but, unfortunately, was not permitted by the government. He also met here his future wife, Anglo-Irish actress Henrietta Constance (Harriet) Smithson, who was engaged in two theatrical productions of Shakespeare's Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet held at the theater, and whose extraordinary talent made a profound impact on Berlioz’s life and music. For the past 300 years the Odéon has hosted plays from all over the world, which has earned it the title of a national theatre of France. In 1990, it was renamed the Théâtre de l'Europe and, as such, became the member of the Union of the Theaters of Europe. Avid theater goers will find this place most interesting.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Palais de Luxembourg

10) Palais de Luxembourg (must see)

The Palais du Luxembourg in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, north of the Jardin du Luxembourg, is the seat of the French Senate. The palace was built for Marie de Médicis, mother of King Louis XIII of France and of Gaston, Duc d'Orléans, just near the site of an old hôtel particulier owned by François-Henri de Montmorency, Duc de Piney-Luxembourg, hence its name (now called Petit Luxembourg, home of the president of French Senate). Marie de Médicis desired to make a building similar to her native Florence's Palazzo Pitti, and to this effect had the main architect Salomon de Brosse send architect Clément Metézeau to Florence to obtain drawings. A series of twenty-four triumphant canvases were commissioned from Peter Paul Rubens. A series of paintings executed for her Cabinet doré ("gilded study") was identified by Anthony Blunt in 1967.

The Palace is only open to the public when the Senate does not meet. It is worth a waiting at a queue, having brilliant halls with painted ceilings, large libraries, rare paintings and statues. Also, you have the privilege to see the Senate Hall, where French senators debate important state problems.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Place Edmond Rostand

11) Place Edmond Rostand

Place Edmond Rostand is a beautiful square with a fountain in the middle, dedicated to the famous French poet and dramatist. Here, you can get something to eat at the famous cafe Rostand, or check out one of the temporary photo exhibition that might interest you.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Jardin du Luxembourg

12) Jardin du Luxembourg (must see)

The Jardin du Luxembourg is the largest public park located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, France. The garden is largely devoted to a green parterre of gravel and lawn populated with statues and centered on a large octagonal basin of water, with a central jet of water, in which children sail model boats. The garden is famed for its calm atmosphere. Surrounding the basin on the raised balustrade terraces are a series of statues of former French queens, saints, and copies after the Antique. In the southwest corner, there is an orchard of apple and pear trees and the théâtre des marionettes (puppet theater). The gardens include a large fenced-in playground for young children and their parents and a vintage carousel. In addition, free musical performances are presented in a gazebo on the grounds and there is a small cafe restaurant nearby, under the trees, with both indoor and outdoor seating from which many people enjoy the music over a glass of wine.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful place with hidden sights to see, such as the Medici Fountain and many others.
Loads to do: there are tennis courts, pony rides, playgrounds and good cafés with enough choice.
The gardens are very well maintained and look stunning!

Don't forget to check out the prototype for the Statue of Liberty.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7:30am-8:45pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Paris, France

Create Your Own Walk in Paris

Create Your Own Walk in Paris

Creating your own self-guided walk in Paris is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Souvenirs Shopping Walk I

Souvenirs Shopping Walk I

It would be a pity to leave Paris without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. Being one of the world's premier shopping cities and a great "get your cash out" destination, Paris attracts thousands of shopaholics every year. Even people who hate shopping, enjoy doing it in Paris. In addition to fabulous designer shops and luxury items, it...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 km
Louvre (1st Arr) Walking Tour II

Louvre (1st Arr) Walking Tour II

This is part 2 of the 1st arrondissement tour of Paris exploring one of the smallest and oldest districts of the French capital, home to some of Paris's major landmarks, as well as business and administration offices. On this tour you will visit Place Vendome, The Pont Neuf, La Conciergerie and many other notable attractions.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 km
The French Revolution Landmarks Walking Tour

The French Revolution Landmarks Walking Tour

The French Revolution had a huge impact on France's history as it gave rise to a radical democratic republic and resulted in violence during the Reign of Terror. A lot of Paris' buildings were damaged beyond repair in the course of the Revolution. The sites they occupied are of a great historical value now. This guide is to highlight the landmarks of the French Revolution that remain.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.4 km
Bourse-Opera Attractions Walking Tour

Bourse-Opera Attractions Walking Tour

Located on the right bank of the River Seine, the 2nd arrondissement, together with the adjacent 8th and 9th arrondissements, hosts an important business district, centred on the Paris Opéra. The area contains the former Paris Bourse (stock exchange), the Garnier Opera House and the famous Fragonard Perfume Museum.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
City Orientation Walk II

City Orientation Walk II

Paris, the largest city and the capital of France, is one of the leading business, politics, education, entertainment, science, media, arts and fashion centers of the world. Paris also is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with over 45 million tourists every year. Don't miss the chance to visit some of its most popular tourist attractions listed below:

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 km
Religious Sights Walking Tour

Religious Sights Walking Tour

Paris is one of the cities that can fairly be considered a religious destination because of the number of churches that one is able to visit here. Reports show that, for instance, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, recorded 13.65 million visits in 2006, and the number is increasing every year. This is a tour that includes some of the most beautiful Christian relics located in the center of Paris -...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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15 Places for Tasting Best French Desserts in Paris

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18 Must-Visit Cafes in Paris, France

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8 Best Food Markets in Paris for Authentic French Produce

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10 Unusual Things to Do in Paris, France

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9 Must Try Cafes in Paris

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Paris for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Paris has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Paris's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Paris Pass, Paris Explorer Pass, Paris Museum Pass, or Paris Night Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Paris' top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Paris hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Novotel Paris Les Halles, Les Rives de Notre-Dame, 9Confidentiel.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Paris, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Paris typically costs from around US$20 up to US$200 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Paris from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the two interconnecting routes (your ticket is valid for both).

- Alternatively, you can cruise along the river Seine on a similar hop-on hop-off sightseeing boat viewing Paris's top attractions from a different angle, able to get on and off as often as you want at any of the eight stops along the Seine riverbanks. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs) and may be upgraded to two days (48 hrs).

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – this usually lasts about 3 hours and allows you to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Paris on a bike tour. In the course of 4 hours you will visit the city's most spectacular sights stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Take a walk around Paris with a knowledgeable guide for an alternative view of the French capital. Over the course of this 2-hour walking tour you will get insights and hear stories about every major classic sight of this fascinating city. A complete overview of Paris from the ground up!

- Come see the best of the French capital in just one day in a combo of a Seine river cruise and historical walk of Paris. You may start either with the Eiffel Tower or the Notre-Dame Cathedral making your way around the iconic sights of the city: the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Grand Palais, Alexandre III bridge, Invalides, Concorde Square, Orsay Museum, etc.

- Missing out on the French food, whilst in Paris, would be worse than a crime – it would be a mistake! If you don't want to make such a mistake, consider a private 3-hour food tour of Paris complete with a set of 10 unforgettable tastings the memories of which will last you a lifetime. Just make sure to bring along your appetite to make the most of the savory treats awaiting!

- Live a chocoholic’s dream right at the heart of Paris! Follow your sweet tooth sense on this 2-hour guided “chocolate walk” in central Paris visiting some of the best chocolate boutiques of the French capital, learning about peculiar chapters in the history of the city and the place delectable chocolate played in it. Adding to the excitement is a round of free tastings.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Paris, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Versailles, Fontainebleau, Champagne region, Loire valley, Normandy, or a combo of Honfleur and Giverny. For as little as US$90+ to US$200+ per person you will get a chance to discover highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, see the favorite residence of the French royalty, world-famous vineyards, charming castles, and historic battlefields of World War II. For any of these tours you may be picked up either straight from your hotel or any other place in Paris, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned minivan or train (whenever applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.