Lively Left bank quarter
6e-7e. Roughly laid out between the Seine and Jardin du Luxembourg on the Left Bank, this is the most lively and appealing district of the city. Its streets lined with tall 17th-18thC buildings are crammed with booksellers, antique dealers and galleries. There are restaurants and cafés at every turn, and the rue de Buci street market is one of the best in Paris.
Midway along bow-shaped boulevard Saint-Germain, the former abbey church of Saint-Germain-des-Près is the oldest in Paris. Its origins can be traced back to the 6thC, but the present building is an homogenous mixture of Romanesque, Gothic and later additions dating from the 11thC. On the square, publishers and academics, tourists and café philosophers rub shoulders in the famous literary haunts of Les Deux Magots, Flore and Lipp. Le Procope, on rue de I’Ancienne Comédie, was once frequented by Molière, Voltaire and Balzac; the 19thC artist Delacroix lived in a studio at 6 rue de Furstemberg, now a museum overlooking a little secret garden. Another landmark (see photo) is the Bar du Marche.
In the southern corner of the district, the Jardin du Luxembourg rolls out behind Marie de’ Medici’s 17thC Palais du Luxembourg. The French Senate sits in the palace, while the public gardens offer donkey rides and puppet shows, shady paths and boating ponds.
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