Top 8 Places To Visit In The 6th Arrondissement
The 6th arrondissement is located at the heart of Paris. It is considered by both tourists and natives as one of the most genuinely Parisian area of the city. It shelters some of France’s best universities such as Sciences Po (in political sciences) and l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (in visual arts). Its architecture and monuments like the Fontaine Médicis, the Eglise Saint-Sulpice or the Luxembourg gardens, are essential components of the Parisian landscape. In addition to these amazing monuments, a simple walk around this neighborhood is a deep immersion into the spirit of the capital.
Discover Top 8 Places To Visit In The 6th Arrondissement
Le Café de Flore
The Café de Flore is one of the most iconic café of Paris’s intellectual life. It was created in 1885 after the establishment of the 3rd Republic. In the early 20th century, the famous writer Guillaume Apollinaire used to spend a lot of time there, discussing with other fellow writers such as André Breton and Louis Aragon. In the 1930’s, this café was the hotbed of the Paris literary elite including authors like Robert Desnos, the Giacometti brothers or even Raymond Queneau. Despite this notoriety, it is only in the 1940’s and 1950’s that the Café de Flore reached its golden age, when the couple Jean-Paul Sartre / Simone de Beauvoir chose this café as their headquarters, occupying a table from 8 in the morning until 8 in the evening.
Les Deux Magôts
Les Deux Magôts is another very important literary café of the 6th arrondissement. It derives its name from two ancient figurines imported from the Far East that used to be the sign of a former shop established on its location. It is in 1885 (what a great year to open a café in Paris) that the former shop sold the building to the new café’s owner. It soon became the meeting place of Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud or even Stéphane Mallarmé, major artistic figures of the 19th century. In 1933, a group of surrealist friends learnt that the prix Goncourt (France’s highest literary prize) was given to André Malraux. Unhappy with this overly serious outcome, they created their own literary prize: le Prix des Deux Magôts. Since then, this café entered the legend and was regularly frequented by artists like André Gide, Fernand Léger, Jacques Prévers and Ernest Hemingway
The Fontaine Médicis is a beautiful fountain located in the Luxembourg Gardens. Its construction was ordered in 1630 the Queen Marie de Médicis, widow of Henry the 4th and directed by the Italian engineer Thomas Francine. It has been subject to a large amount of works and renovations. In the 19th century, it was even moved inside the Luxembourg gardens to allow the building of the rue de Médicis, as a part of Haussmann’s urbanism works. It is in this era that this former gantry became a fountain, and that the sculptor Auguste Ottin added the three mythological characters of the monument. These characters represent Polyphème, a legendary cyclope in love of Galatée (young sea goddess), in pain after seeing Galatée in the arms of Acis (a shepherd).
L’Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts
The Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts is by far the best visual art university in France. It is a public school that was created in 1817 to teach painting, sculpture, engraving and architecture. This school is the inheritor of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture founded in 1649. It is located in front of the Musée du Louvres at the heart of the 6th arrondissement between the rue Bonaparte and the rue Malaquais. It is usually impossible to visit the building, but as you wander around the 6th arrondissement, feel free to take a peek at the architecture of this emblematic French university.
The Académie française was founded in 1634 by the cardinal Richelieu, under the reign of Louis the 13th. However, it is only in 1795 that it was integrated to the Institut de France, the majestic building of the 6th arrondissement that still shelters the Académie française today. The main role of this institution is to normalize and perfect the French language. It is composed of 40 members elected by their peers. In other words, these 40 members could be considered as the guardians of the French language. Every year, the Académie publishes its dictionary, sanctifying the meaning of every word of the French language. It is a rather famous organization in French culture as it is usually composed by older prominent artistic and intellectual figures.
L’Eglise Saint-Sulpice de Paris
The Eglise Saint-Sulpice is a magnificent church located at the heart of the 6th arrondissement. It is one of the largest churches of the city. It was built on the location of a small sanctuary dedicated to Saint-Sulpice-des-Champs, dating all the way back to the 12th century. Rebuilt and extended in the 14th and 16th century, it soon became too small for the ever-growing population of Paris. To remedy this problem, the priest Jean-Jacques Olier commissioned the architect Christophe Gamard in the 1640’s, to build Paris’s largest church at the time. He chose a classical architectural style with a few Corinthian elements. Small historical anecdote: In 1679, the renovation works completely stopped due to a lack of fundings. It is only in 1719 that the priest Jean-Baptiste Languet de Cergy managed to gather a large enough amount of money through a public lottery.
Le Pont Neuf
The Pont-Neuf is a bridge linking the left and right bank of the Seine through the tip of the Iles-de-la-Cité. It is 140 m long and 20.5 m large. Its construction was initiated in 1578, under Henri the 3rd’s reign, and finished in 1604, under the reign of Henry the 4th. The works lasted 30 years and were interrupted by bloody religious wars between 1588 and 1599. The name Pont “Neuf” (“new” in English) was chosen by Henry the 4th to differentiate this “new” bridge from the other bridges of Paris. It is today one of the most beautiful bridges of the city. Quick advice, the best way to admire the Pont Neuf’s architecture is to observe it from the Pont des Arts (another iconic Paris bridge).
Odéon – le Théâtre de l’Europe
The théâtre de l’Odéon is a public theater located in the 6th arrondissement, right next to the Luxembourg gardens. It was inaugurated in 1782 to shelter France’s national theater company, the “Comédie-Française”. It is an Italian-style theater with cube shape scene and a semi-circular hall. The exterior structure of this theater is known for the multiple neo-classical elements included in its designs such as its massive columns. As a funny historical anecdote, in the massive May 1968 protests, this theater of the quartier latin was occupied by Parisian students and served as a debate and discussion hall.
With all of these places to visit, have a nice walk in the 6th arrondissement!