Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots, Luxembourg Gardens
ABOUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD . . .
Like its Left Bank neighbor the Fifth, the Sixth Arrondissement once had a reputation as a slightly down-at-the-heels bohemian community of students, artists and poets. But gentrification has made it one of the most desirable – and expensive – places to live in Paris. One attraction is that the district still hosts many important institutions, including the École des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Française. The restaurants that drew in intellectuals and writers like Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and James Baldwin are still in full glory. Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots on Boulevard Saint-Germain retain the sophisticated atmosphere of the last century, although customers are more likely to be speaking Russian and Mandarin than French. A seat out front, even in the cold, offers a ringside view of Parisian life. You’ll see more French businessmen and women at lunchtime across the street at Brasserie Lipp, long known as a hangout for journalists and politicians who enjoy its Alsatian-flavored menu. The Sixth is the site of Paris’ oldest church, the 6th-century Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the last words meaning “in the fields,” from a time when the church was surrounded by farmland. A central feature of this district is Queen Marie de Medici’s Jardin du Luxembourg, a beautiful formal 17th century park that is always full of families, children and flâneurs. Marie’s palace at the top of the park is now the home of the French Senate. The Place Saint-Michel and its ornate fountain near the Seine are still a favorite meeting point for students and travelers from all over the world, but the area’s new wealth has also made it a shopping haven, with Boulevard Saint-Germain and Boulevard Saint-Michel representing top luxury brands.