Zone: The left bank of Seine

The St Germain-des-Pres quarter of Paris — a district of the city that has always had a distinctly separate identity from the rest of Paris. The fields and lush riverside meadows that you would have seen here in the 6th century AD gradually became the property of the adjoining Benedictine priory of St Germain-des-Pres – from which the district takes its name, and of which at least the church survives to this day. The region went rapidly upmarket at the beginning of the 17th century, when Italian princess Maria di Medici built her lavish Luxembourg Palace here – a building which later caught the eye of the French Senate, who today use it as their headquarters. Even so, the wave of new buildings here commenced only a century after – at a time when the French nobility, tired of their cramped palaces in the Marais Quarter, began to look at the attractive possibilities of the more spacious region across the river – where their deep pockets and architectural ambitions found opportunities for luxurious modern palaces with the latest fashion – carefully manicured gardens. Within a generation, the smart set of Paris had turned the former unfashionable suburb into the centre of sophisticated Parisian city life. It became the city's artistic and literary hub, where the pavement tables of chic cafés were populated by the leading luminaries of the age – Hemingway and Faulkner, Antoine de Saint-Exupery - author of The Little Prince – and the new generation of French 'public intellectuals' such as Jean-Paul Sartre, and his wife Simone de Beauvoir . To satisfy their ambitious physical needs, Paris's very first five-storey department store, Bon Marche opened its doors on the Rue de Sevres.
  • France
  • Paris
  • 10 stops
  • 01:17
  • 2738 m.
  • English
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The historic centre
The left bank of Seine