The Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood is one of the most chic on the left bank of Paris. Situated in the 6th arrondissement, Saint Germain as it’s colloquially called, is filled with upscale shops, fine dining restaurants, and Paris’ oldest church, the 11th-century Église de Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Modern art lovers will find many galleries to wander inside and may wish to culminate their day with a visit to the famed Musée d’Orsay. Saint Germain leads right up to the river Seine, where booksellers known as bouquinistes sell vintage posters and old books in green-painted stands.
Saint Germain should absolutely be on your must-visit list of places in Paris. If you’re thinking about staying in the neighborhood during your next trip to Paris, or you just want to visit for a day, these recommendations should guide you along.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris, France, with a rich history that stretches back over a thousand years.
The neighborhood is named after the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, which was founded in the 6th century by King Childebert I. The abbey became a prominent center of learning during the Middle Ages, attracting scholars and intellectuals.
In the 17th century, the area around the abbey began to develop into a fashionable neighborhood, attracting artists and writers. By the 18th century, it had become a hub for Enlightenment thinkers.
During the 20th century, Saint-Germain-des-Prés became known as a center for existentialist thought, attracting figures like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. The neighborhood was also renowned for its jazz clubs, which drew musicians from around the world.
Iconic artists like Picasso and writers like Ernest Hemingway were drawn to Saint Germain during the roaring twenties.
In recent years, Saint-Germain-des-Prés has retained its artistic and intellectual reputation, housing numerous galleries, bookshops, and cafes that make it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Its intellectual legacy is remembered today, even if the area is slightly more touristy than it previously was!
Here is a guide to the best hotels in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. This list should give you several options for where to stay in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
If you’re looking to stay in Saint Germain on a budget, it’s going to be difficult. The best budget hotels in Saint Germain should be booked off-season and I recommend Hôtel Le Placide or Hôtel Louis 2.
How to Get to Saint-Germain-des-Prés
The best way to get around Saint-Germain-des-Prés is on foot! Nevertheless, Saint Germain is served by Lines 4 and 10 of the Paris metro network.
- Line 4: Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Saint-Sulpice
- Line 10: Mabillon
Things to Do & See in Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Saint Germain is a small part of Paris, but it’s packed with things to do! Here are my favorite things to do and see when visiting Saint Germain:
Browse Les Bouquinistes for Books
Paris is known for the booksellers who operate little green stands along the Seine River, called Les Bouquinistes. They’ve been operating for more than 400 years, making them emblematic of Parisian culture. There’s no better place to browse their antique items, vintage posters, and classic books than in Saint Germain!
Hang out in Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg is a romantic garden just south of the heart of Saint Germain. It’s easy to spend the afternoon in this tranquil, expansive park! There are mini sailboats and mini horseback rides for the kids, too.
Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Explore this historic abbey, which is one of the oldest in Paris.
Place de l’Odéon
Place de l’Odéon is a plaza in Saint Germain that is a delight to see. You can admire the beautiful 18th-century Odeon Theatre de l’Europe and browse the surrounding shops and restaurants.
The Saint Sulpice church is a gorgeous 17th-century Roman Catholic church in front of a beautiful open plaza with a fountain.
Église de Saint Germain des Prés
The 11th-century Église de Saint Germain des Prés church is the oldest in Paris. It now holds the remains of René Descartes, a famous 17th-century French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist.
Eat pastries from Pierre Hermé
Pierre Hermé is the best place for macarons in Paris if you ask me! I love picking up an Ispahan and eating it in the park.
Pop into art galleries and visit La Monnaie de Paris:
I love wandering in and out of the many modern art galleries in Saint Germain, mostly located closer north along the Seine River. If you’d prefer a museum, pop into La Monnaie de Paris, the institution responsible for printing France’s euro coins, which also doubles as an art museum and fine dining restaurant of Guy Savoy!
Saint-Germain-des-Prés Cafés & Restaurants
Here are the best spots to eat yummy French dishes in Paris 6!
Café de Flore
Café de Flore is a classic Saint Germain institution known for attracting artists, writers, and philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre during its heyday in the 20s! 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain
Les Deux Magots
Les Deux Magots is a storied Parisian café that sits on the corner of the Place Saint-Germain des Prés. It’s great for people-watching! 6 Pl. Saint-Germain des Prés
Claus is a great place for a hearty brunch in Saint Germain. 2 Rue Clément
L’avant Comptoir De La Mer
L’avant Comptoir De La Mer is a small seafood dishes served tapas-style. 3 Carrefour de l’Odéon
Le Procope is the oldest café in Paris, open since 1686. Eating here is like stepping back in time! 13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie
For a casual night out in Saint Germain, head for drinks at the lively Bar du Marché, or eat a charcuterie board at La Palette, both local favorites of Parisians with a casual vibe.
If you’d prefer a more upscale specialty cocktail bar, then try Prescription Cocktail Club or Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels.
You should also visit one of the many jazz bars and clubs the area is known for. Le Caveau de la Huchette is one such club where you can enjoy live jazz performances.
These are my favorite spots for where to go out in Saint-Germain-des-Prés!
Want to know where to shop in Saint-Germain-des-Prés? You’re in the right neighborhood if you love French fashion, skincare, and beauty!
Boulevard Saint Germain is where you will find the best shopping in Saint Germain.
For a more boutique approach to shopping, head down to Rue Bonaparte, where you will find lots of independent, smaller designers selling everything from jewelry to handbags to clothing.
There are tons of antique shops and bookstores where you can discover quirky, one-of-a-kind pieces.
A stop at CityPharma is a must for any beauty lovers. This is where Parisians flock from all over the city to snag their favorite French pharmacy beauty products at discounted prices! It’s always very busy, but go first thing in the morning if you want to browse peacefully.
My favorite fashion boutiques in Saint Germain are Petite Mendigote, Anne Fontaine, and Mirae.
What are your Saint Germain travel tips?