Sorbonne, Pantheon, Rue Mouffetard
ABOUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD . . .
For many visitors, this district is the epitome of Paris. It is the heart of the Latin Quarter, the city’s historic center of scholarship and home to the Sorbonne and many other scholarly institutions. As a result, the ambience is young, vibrant and international. There are many bookstores, some specializing in very specific subjects like Buddhism or psychology. One of the best-known bookshops is the English-language Shakespeare and Company, which features visiting writers, lectures and lively discussions. The Pantheon, a neo-classical structure on a modest hilltop hosts the remains of more than 70 famous French citizens. But just four of the scientists, politician and poets buried here are women – a gap that recent governments have tried to close. A couple of less-known gems in the Fifth are the Arènes de Lutèce, the ruins of a Roman arena, still used for impromptu soccer games and occasional concerts, and the Thermes de Cluny, an ancient Roman bath. The Jardin des Plantes offers a lush and quiet space for an escape from the bustle of work. For a taste of Paris’ cultural diversity, visit the Musée de l’Institut du Monde Arabe, a museum that focuses on the culture and art of the Arab world and offers breathtaking rooftop views of the city. Rue Mouffetard is another famous open-air market street jam-packed with cheese shops, butchers, fruit stands, wine stores and coffee roasters.