Flâneries in Paris: Explore Saint-Michel and the Latin Quarter

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Flâneries in Paris: Explore Saint-Michel and the Latin Quarter
This is the 10th in a series of walking tours highlighting the sites and stories of diverse districts of Paris. When I surface at the Saint-Michel metro station, I like to dive straight into Rue de la Huchette and savor the buzzing atmosphere of the Latin Quarter. It’s narrow and bustling, full of little shops selling treats and trinkets and restaurants whose waiters stand outside to engage you in banter and entice you inside. If I haven’t been to Paris for a while, there is no quicker way to feel straight back into it! The Théâtre de la Huchette, a little way down on the right, is a Parisian institution and has been showing two Eugène Ionesco plays ever since February 1957. Ionesco, one of the originators of the theater of the absurd, is not for everyone, but if you would like to see a double billing of La Cantatrice Chauve (The Bald Soprano) and La Leçon (The Lesson), there are performances every week, including one with English subtitles every Wednesday. What to expect? Bizarre conversations between two couples failing to communicate, a teacher-pupil relationship with tyranny at its heart… In short, a portrayal of a world which is difficult to make sense of and where danger lurks. To watch them is to glimpse the confusion of the world just after World War Two when they were written and it’s also a chance to visit the venue that calls itself “the smallest of the great Parisian theaters.” Just across the road is Amorino, the Italian ice-cream parlor which does wondrous things with gelato and macarons. La rue de la Huchette. Photo credit: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/ Flickr A couple of streets away is Rue de la Harpe where, right at the far end, I chanced upon Monk, La Taverne de Cluny, a bar and jazz club where the décor drew me in and the menu offered one of my favorite options, a build-your-own salad. I opted for the three-ingredient version, choosing lentils, dressed beetroot and goat’s cheese, and settled back to admire the laid-back black and gold surroundings: little round tables with the Monk logo, photos of iconic jazz musicians, display cases of craft beer bottles – they sell over 50 varieties – and posters for their upcoming music and comedy events. The background music – Georges Brassens and Joe Dassin’s Les Champs Élysées – oozed French charm and really I think I couldn’t find a more charming lunch stop anywhere in the Quartier Latin. Next, I popped into two of the nearby churches. First, Saint Séverin, originally built in the 13th century on a site where the hermit Séverin had lived, although today only the bell tower dates that far back. Most striking to me were the stained-glass windows because they are an intriguing mix. Behind the altar are gothic windows dating from the 15th century and as a striking contrast there are seven contemporary windows which were installed in 1970. They are beautiful, mosaic-style designs, each accompanied by bible quotations. For example, the verse “I am come to send fire on the earth” (Luke 12, verse 49) is illustrated by a design full of overlapping flame shapes in vibrant red, purple, orange and yellow. It’s modern and radiant.

Lead photo credit : Place St-Michel Metro Station, Creative Commons

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Recently retired from teaching Modern Languages (French and German), Marian now has time to develop her interests in travel and European culture and history. She will be in Paris as often as she can, visiting places old and new, finding out their stories and writing it all up as soon as she gets home. Marian also runs the weekly podcast series, City Breaks, offering in-depth coverage of popular city break destinations, with lots of background history and cultural information. She has covered Paris in 22 episodes but looks forward to updating the series every now and then with some Paris Extra episodes.


  • Marian Jones
    2023-01-06 11:27:19
    Marian Jones
    Yes, of course you are right. This piece just relates what I saw and did on one particular 'flânerie' and I hope very much that one day I will do some more strolls around different parts of the area.


  • janet kotler
    2023-01-05 10:06:14
    janet kotler
    But you barely TOUCHED the 6th!! So very much more you didn't even mention.


  • Patricia A Hacker
    2022-10-06 09:22:36
    Patricia A Hacker
    I want to be able to print certain articles to put in a file I have (a to do one) for the next time I go to Paris. But they are all marked over so you can't read the. Why?? I pay a subscription for this, therefore I expect to be able to copy what I want etc etc


    • DL Johnson
      2022-10-10 03:35:16
      DL Johnson
      Don't know if it helps but you can always "select all" and copy it on a Word document you can print and save. 😊