Saint Germain des Prés

The name of this neighborhood comes from the ancient abbey of Saint Germain, one of the richest and most prestigious in Europe. Only the church remains today, and it is the most ancient in Paris with its oldest part dating from the 11th century. This area was also the meeting place of the intelligentsia and international artists before World War II, as well as for postwar philosophers. It is celebrated as the birthplace of jazz in Paris, and is famous for it nightly revelry and crazy parties. This walk will explore all of these fascinating aspects, as well as the superb Luxembourg Palace and Gardens. You will see why Saint Germain guards the literary soul of the left bank and boasts ‘chic Paris’, typical of the 6th arrondissement.



Stroll around Saint Germain des Prés !

Practical Informations
• Meeting Point: Métro Saint Germain des Prés (line 4)
• Duration : 2h15
• Walking tour
Private tour at any date (270€/group)


We will start the tour with the oldest church in the city, belonging to the old abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The construction started in the 6th century, the goal being to house the relics of Saint-Vincent, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés quickly became a place of pilgrimage with an impressing collection of relics as well as a sizeable library inside the monastery. The church was open until 1792, when it would be closed for 11 years following the French Revolution.

The abbey’s holdings, as shown in the Polyptych or the general ledger of the monastery, were extended over a huge territory, with a big part of the land situated west of Boulevard Saint-Michel. Together we will study the combination of romanesque and gothic styles, and look at the different architectural styles introduced during the various restorations of the church, especially in the 19th century.
The neighborhood was considerably changed by Haussmann’s transformations of Paris. The vast cafés near the church, which appeared in the second half of the 19th century, have been frequented by a great deal of personalities from all over the world. The neighborhood has been a meeting-place for French nationalists as well as philosophers and famous authors, and it has also been known to be the cradle of jazz in Paris. Saint-Germain-des-Prés has thus established itself as the neighborhood of the “Rive Gauche” (Left Bank) atmosphere, particularly after World War II.

Even though this tour is filled with French heritage and history, we will not forget to tell you anecdotes and secrets about the area. We will also talk about the changes in the neighborhood: the disappearance of traditional landmarks, the inevitable gentrification, as well as the appearance of more luxury shops.

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