Heritage, culture, green spaces, artisans and craftspeople – discover the French art de vivre!
With its rich heritage, emblematic garden, fascinating lesser-known museums, excellent restaurants and art and craft shops, the 6th arrondissement, tucked between the Seine and boulevard du Montparnasse, is a magnet for fans of Parisian art de vivre.
With its publishing houses, art galleries, and pavement cafés of Saint-Germain-des-Prés frequented by artists and intellectuals, the 6th arrondissement is resolutely culture-oriented. The arts flourish even in the streets and on the walls. The fresco in rue Férou for example features all 100 lines of Arthur Rimbaud’s poem Le Bateau Ivre on a surface area of 300 square metres!
The boulevards, pretty streets and attractive views reveal a treasure-trove of Parisian architecture. Here you can admire, for example, place Saint-Germain-des-Prés and its Romanesque church, the Saint Sulpice church decorated with paintings by Eugène Delacroix, and the Odéon–Théâtre de l’Europe recognizable by its columns and arcades.
In addition to such prestigious monuments as the French Institute, the Fine Arts School and the Mint Museum (Musée de la Monnaie), the 6th arrondissement is home to some of Paris’s most fascinating but lesser-known museums, including the Zadkine and Eugène Delacroix museums, located in the places where these renowned artists lived and worked, and the museums of mineralogy, history of medicine, and the French trade guilds (Compagnonnage) as well as Mundolingua – a museum devoted to language and linguistics.
And you can take a trip abroad without leaving Paris thanks to the varied programme of events proposed by the Czech and Iranian cultural centres and the Hungarian Balassi Institute, all based here in the 6th.
In the south-eastern part of the arrondissement the Luxembourg gardens are a sought-after and welcome green space. Created by Marie de Medici in 1612, this 25-hectare park includes an orchard, greenhouses with a collection of orchids, a rose garden, an orangery and beehives. The gardens are adorned by no fewer than 106 statues and the charming Medici Fountain. You’ll find the Musée du Luxembourg here, as well as the Palais du Luxembourg – now the seat of the Senate (the upper house of the French parliament). There are sports facilities and activities and play areas for children. Twice a year a free photographic exhibition is hung on the garden’s railings.
Local shops are another big feature of the arrondissement, ranging from bookshops to food outlets and arts and crafts shops.
Artisans using centuries-old and traditional techniques are especially numerous. If you have a special interest in such expertise, seek out and appreciate the work of watchmakers Antoine de Macedo and François Hubert, gilder Pierre Marsaleix, hatter Pauline Brosset, jewellery designer Nadine Delépine, the straw marquetry experts at Atelier Lison de Caunes, and the stained-glass artists at Studio Vitrail Bianconi. Atelier Chéret specialises in religious art and Marie-Madeleine Parin restores china and porcelain.
Some of these shops have been here for centuries! The toy soldiers and other collector’s items at Au plat d’Étain have been fascinating children and adults alike since 1775, and premier artists’ paint manufacturers Charvin has occupied the quai des Grands Augustins since 1830.
The 6th arrondissement is known for all that is typical of French art de vivre. The covered market at Saint Germain with its local tradespeople and delicatessens is the ideal place to stock up on quality produce.
Literary buffs and writers seeking inspiration can linger at the Café de Flore, the Closerie des Lilas or the Deux Magots, the legendary literary cafés frequented by Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Guillaume Apollinaire and Pablo Picasso among others.
The cafés, restaurants and traditional brasseries in rue Saint-André des Arts and rue de Buci offer good home cooking that won’t disappoint. Try the blanquette at the Procope, Paris’s oldest café, opened in 1686, or Instagram your bowl from the Maison Sauvage. You might prefer a lobster roll from Homer’s or dim sum at Yoom, maybe followed by a cream puff from Popelini or a Grom gelato for dessert. There’s something for all tastes and all budgets!
If you want to celebrate, go dancing or have an unforgettable fun night out, the 6th arrondissement has plenty of options. Check out La Rhumerie or Au Prescription Cocktail Club for some colourful cocktail creations. And if you want to dance the night away, try the Silencio or the Peña Saint-Germain.