The Independent Voyager


Saint Germain

By Elicia Sacharow

Neighborhood Focus: Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Paris

When you think of Paris, we’re willing to bet that the street scene you imagine is of Saint-Germain. It’s steeped in history and populated by modernity; this is where you’ll find the historic heart of Paris pulsing with contemporary Parisians making a new space in the world. While some consider Saint Germain (for short) to only be the 6th arrondissement, we think that the 5th’s Latin Quarter is a matched pair. Whether you want to stay outside, visit museums, shop, or eat your heart out, you can do it here. Our advice for visiting this neighborhood? You can’t go wrong, so wander!

Les Deux Magots: Hangout of the Literary World

Les Deux Magots

Les Deux Magots is named after two porcelain figurines from China inside the establishment.

This storied cafe is everything you dream of for Paris: patrons engrossed in the paper or a good book, couples quietly flirting across sidewalk tables, and sharp-dressed waiters efficiently zipping around guests. Sure, you can get a great cup of coffee here, but it’s the creative atmosphere once sought after by Hemingway, Picasso, Sartre, de Beauvoir—or perhaps its memory—that is the real draw for guests. Les Deux Magots continues to foster literature, awarding the Prix des Deux Magots annually since 1933.

Luxembourg Gardens: Regal Recreation

Jardin du Luxembourg Paris

The history of Jardin du Luxembourg is worth exploring on its own, but you don’t need a history lesson to enjoy the beauty of the Medici Fountain or relaxing in complimentary chairs. Kids (and adults!) can buy a small boat to push around the pond in front of the Luxembourg Palace. You can stroll through the beautiful gardens to discover statues of Beethoven and a model of the Statue of Liberty. Don’t forget to pick up fresh ice cream—it pairs perfectly with bright spring and summer flowers.

Le Cinéma du Panthéon: Old Is New

Le Cinéma du Panthéon Salon

The salon of Le Cinéma du Panthéon designed by Catherine Deneuve

A survivor, Le Cinéma du Panthéon is over 100 years old and still has all the quirk and style you crave in an art-house cinema. Its intimate theatre is the perfect place to take in that obscure movie that isn’t playing anywhere else (even in Paris) and its redesigned salon is the supporting actor that (almost) steals the show as the place to lounge around with a drink and discuss. This is our perfect antidote to a rainy evening in Paris.

A selection of stays in Saint-Germain:

Hotel Recamier – Romantic views and a lover’s soul

Hotel Recamier

Named after the enigmatic Juliette Recamier (who has inspired no fewer than three hotels in Paris), Hotel Recamier embodies the beauty of Juliette, unveiling its own beauty slowly from behind curtains and doors. Many rooms peek onto the Place Saint-Sulpice and accompanying church, but we find almost all the charm inside. Our single favorite thing about Recamier? The stunning canopy beds with unique mirrors to reflect the mood of the room.

Relais Christine - Pause in the secret garden

Relais Christine Paris

This luxurious hideaway instantly slows you down from the moment you step through into the charming courtyard. Time seems to move at a different, more languid pace here without making guests feel left behind. The easy elegance of the rooms and the beautiful walled garden make Relais Christine a treasured gem that so many people search for but rarely seem to find in tourist-heavy Paris. As much as we love everything about the hotel, the best asset for Relais Christine is its superb Clefs d’Or concierge team.

L’Hotel – Opulence, opulence, opulence

L'Hotel Paris Mata Hari

Everything—everything— is more magnificent at L’Hotel. The entrance stuns with its unique soaring circular design, the rooms make your draws drop with their detail, the restaurant surpasses all expectations (and they’re high with Le Restaurant’s Michelin star), and the bar is extraordinarily seductive. Hands down, this is our favorite “historic” hotel; it celebrates its former residents like Oscar Wilde and historic figures like Mata Hari in grandiose style, packing each room with completely unique yet equal extravagance.

Have your say