The 6th arrondissement (district) of Paris is one of the most popular destinations for tourists looking to soak in a little old-world glamour and history. It certainly has changed over the years, especially in areas such as the legendary Saint-Germain des Prés district.
Once the stomping ground of mid-20th-century writers and intellectuals such as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, the 6th is now, broadly speaking at least, a posh hub for designer boutiques, lush formal gardens, antique furniture, and art dealers. It is known as one of the more conservative areas of Paris, too, harboring several Catholic places of worship and the Diocese of Paris.
The 6th, which roughly encompasses the area between Metro St-Germain-des-Prés and Odeon, stretching southward to the Luxembourg gardens area, also boasts quiet, leafy residential streets, stunning Haussmannian architecture, and prized gastronomic restaurants. Furthermore, it's in easy reach of gourmet destinations such as the gourmet market, La Grande Epicérie, located in the neighboring 7th arrondissement.
Getting There and Around
The easiest way to get to the area from the city center is to take Metro line 4 to the Odeon or Saint-Germain-des-Pres stations. Get off at Rue du Bac (Line 12) for the Bon Marche department store and Grande Epicerie supermarket.
Main Sights and Attractions in the Area
- Saint-Germain des Prés neighborhood: A stroll through this legendary neighborhood is an essential part of any first trip to Paris. Make sure to visit the historic medieval abbey (located right at the Metro exit), and people-watch or start penning your next novel at one of the area's famous cafes, Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore. These cafes are now preferred spots for celebrities, as well as certain intellectuals who imagine themselves following in the footsteps of the literary figures who once conversed around their tables.
- Luxembourg Gardens: The crown jewel of Franco-Italian Queen Marie de Medicis, these lush formal gardens are an absolute favorite for strolling, picnicking, and admiring spring blooms or fall foliage.
- Musee du Luxembourg: Located in the corner of the famed gardens, this is the oldest public museum in the capital. In recent years, it has held immensely popular retrospectives on artists such as Marc Chagall and Modigliani.
- Odéon Theater: This legendary site for theatrical performances was frequented by the likes of Alexandre Dumas of Three Musketeers fame; the author of the beloved novel also had a little-known, and less bright, career as a playwright.
- Saint-Sulpice Church: One of Paris' most beautiful churches, this peaceful spot is located on a quiet square near the St-Sulpice metro station.
- Le Procope: If you love coffee and the history of the dark stuff, come to one of the places where it gained popularity in the 17th century. This establishment claims to be the oldest café in Paris and was a favorite of philosophers such as Voltaire and revolutionaries, including Robespierre. Even American President Thomas Jefferson loitered, debated, and gossiped here with contemporaries before his tenure in the White House.
- La Closerie des Lilas: This is another famous cafe and restaurant located at the edge of the 6th. It was a preferred watering hole and writing spot for writers, including Ernest Hemingway.
- Hotel Lutetia: This famous historic hotel has a secretly dark history: it was one of the hotels (along with the Ritz) occupied by the Nazi Gestapo police forces during World War II.
- Shopping in the 6th: This is a prime area for shopping, whether you want to hit luxury flagships, concept shops, unique local boutiques, or discount designer stores. See our complete guide to shopping in Paris for more info on where to head in the area.
Where to Stay in the 6th Arrondissement?
The 6th harbors some of the city's most pleasant and charming hotels, popular with tourists for their quiet charm and easy access to some of the capital's more popular sights and attractions.
Eating and Drinking in the Area
See this complete guide to eating out in Paris for ideas on where to dine and drink in the 6th. Paris by Mouth also has an excellent guide to the best restaurants and eateries in the 6th.