The 5th district of Paris (also better known as the Latin Quarter) is one of the best known of the city’s central districts, located on the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) of the river Seine. The first great Parisian university, the Sorbonne, was founded here and the area has a significant student presence, with several universities and schools of higher education being located in the area. The district also houses the core of ancient Gallo-Roman Paris. A number of rare archaeological remains that can be seen within the district.
The home base of this trip is the Hotel Delavigne, a charming 3-star Parisian hotel located on a quiet street at the edge of the Latin Quarter. Conveniently located in between 6th and 5th arrondisements, the hotel offers easy access to the metro and everything Paris has to offer. Booking.com shows rates starting at €145/night.
Begin the day by taking a stroll through Jardin du Luxembourg, the 25 hectares of green oasis in the middle of Paris. Here visitors will nearly 200 statues, including a smaller version of the Statue of Liberty. The French Senate is housed in Palais du Luxembourg, found in the northern part of the park. At the center of the park one will find the Grand Bassin, an octagonal pond surrounded by lawns and alleys. I once sat on one of the many chairs by the pound, watching a group of finches playing in a pool of water formed after an afternoon thunderstorm. Grab a seat. It’s a great place to people watch.
Next stop on today’s journey is the Panthéon. Originally commissioned as a church, the building was converted into a mausoleum honoring historical figures after the French Revolution. Take the guided tour and climb to the dome for an excellent view of Paris. The admission is 7.5 euros for adults.
For lunch, pop into Jardin des Pâtes on Rue Lacépède. A cozy eatery with menu made up of homemade pasta dishes. Even a simple pasta with bolognese sauce is to die for. A meal here won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
The first stop after lunch is Arènes de Lutèce, the only surviving above-ground ruins of the Gallo-Roman era in Paris. This ancient Roman theatre was built around the 2nd century AD and rediscovered in 1869 during the building of Rue Monge.
Continue west toward Rue Mouffetard. One of Paris’s oldest and liveliest neighborhoods starting at Place de la Contrescarpe. Rue Mouffetard is a remnant of an old Roman road with buildings date from the 12th century. In addition to housing a market every morning, the street offers a wide variety of shops. Make sure to stop in La Fontaine for wine tasting. Here one can find quality wines at attractive prices.
If there’s still time left in the day, catch the metro to see the Catacombs, Paris’ famous underground ossuary. From the Censier – Daubenton metro station, catch the M7 line to Place d’Italie and change to the M6 line. Exit at Denfert-Rochereau metro stop and find the Catacombs at 1, Place Denfert-Rochereau.
The entrance fee to the Catacombs is 7 euros for adults. The mile-long walk through the underground underground tunnels and chambers is not for the faint of heart. There are thought to be around six million skeletons in the catacombs. Skulls and stacks of bones are arranged along the walls, with piles reaching as high as 5 feet.
After a long walk, the metro serves as the perfect transport to take you back to the hotel. Take the M4 to Odeon then the 2 blocks to the hotel. Rest up before heading to Le Petit Prince de Paris for a pleasant restaurant experience. The service is superb and the atmosphere is relaxed. The 3-course menu offers authentic French dishes at very reasonable prices.