If you’re visting Paris then you NEED to explore the Latin Quarter since it’s kind of a big deal. Just meander through these cozy, Gothic-style, cobblestone streets, that ooze charm at every turn, and you’ll begin to understand what all the fuss is about. So if you’re gonna visit the Latin Quarter anyway, might as well use some free Paris Walking Tours in the process.
Am I right?
Because really, you can’t beat walking tours in Paris. Not only are they free, but they’re a great way to feel the pulse of the city and fall in love with a city that has been revered by countless poets, artists, and musicians.
A free walking tour of Paris will help you burn about a million calories (I might have rounded up), allowing you to eat your weight in French pastries guilt free. And really, isn’t that what a trip to Paris is all about?
FYI, we call this a “culinary cultural experience”.
But I promise, once I’m done rationalizing eating like a pig, we’ll not only explore some of the top things to do in the Latin Quarter (during one of the best walking tours in Paris) but we’ll also explore some of the best Latin Quarter Paris hotels, and even visit some of the best restaurants in the Latin Quarter of Paris for a meal that you will truly remember.
All you need to do is:
Grab your snuggie, a pair of bunny slippers, and your favorite box of cookies as we travel across the Latin Quarter Paris map.
Feel free to rock out in your snuggie while reading this post.
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STOP 1: GRANDE MOSQUEE DE PARIS
Adjacent to the ever-charming Jardins des Plantes:
The Grande Mosquee de Paris is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you consider Parisian culture, but it just might be after you visit because yes, this structure is THAT magnificent.
As long as you don’t visit on Friday because they’re not open.
A veritable oasis of Islamic cultural grandeur offers tourists and worshippers alike, the chance to experience the charm and beauty of Islamic style architecture.
Once you step inside:
You’ll be awed by a Moorish style prayer hall that is littered with any and every type of carpet imaginable. Walk a little further and you’ll encounter a hammam, a replica of the vibrant tile mosaics that are typically found throughout Moorish style baths.
After strolling through the Mosque’s extensive gardens and charming fountains, stop by the tea salon for a refreshing glass of mint tea and perhaps maybe even a sweet…or two…or ten.
Looking for something a bit more substantial?
Then visit the Mosque Restaurant, which is known for their authentic couscous and Maghreb style cuisine (if you’re looking for a more western style breakfast then on the way over stop by Strada Cafe for coffee, brunch, or a lovely croissant).
***Believe it or not, you can actually visit some traditional hot and cold baths here or even relax in the sauna. Just be sure to check the schedule first since some days are all men or vice versa***
STOP 2: PANTHEON
Umm, who doesn’t want to spend their Paris vacation in a glorified tomb? Seriously, I bet you’re just dying to get in (bad pun intended)!
Ba-da-dum-cha (drum sound)!
But if we’re gonna get fancy it’s actually a mausoleum; a mausoleum that is so much more than just a glorified resting place for some of France’s most iconic figures.
Beyond the tombs:
This Pantheon is actually an architectural masterpiece, designed by Soufflot to outdo the grandeur of iconic churches like St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London.
Add in some decorative paintings to illustrate the life of Saint Geneviève and the beginnings of Christianity and you have a truly enchanting building that will make you impulsively deplete the battery of your camera.
There’s even a copy of Foucault’s pendulum at the center of it all, a point of French pride that was one of the first devices used to demonstrate the continual rotation of the Earth.
Something that the guys from Big Bang Theory would go insane over.
However, the most touching part of this building is the crypt below. Meander through the rows upon rows of immortal tombs and visit some of history’s most iconic figures.
You can’t help but become touched by the ability of one solitary human life to change the world. Excuse me while I get out my hanky.
I didn’t know many of the individuals buried here. But French men and woman like Voltaire, Rousseau, Braille, Hugo, and Marie Curie all stood out to me as monumental figures of not just France but the world.
Perhaps the most beautiful story found within these hollow walls is that of Simone Veil. Buried here in July of 2018, this Auschwitz survivor and human rights activist is only the fifth woman to be interred in the Panthéon. A truly inspiring story that is a beautiful highlight of any visit to the Latin Quarter of Paris.
STOP 3: JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG
The Jardin du Luxembourg is touristy AF:
But honestly, you don’t really care because this garden is THAT beautiful. Plus, Angelina’s is RIGHT here and they serve one of the best desserts in all of Paris. So clearly you have to visit, even if you just order a Mont Blanc (sweetened chestnut dessert filled with whipped cream) from Angelina’s and stare at the park while you eat this desert divinity.
But if you actually want to explore the park:
You will be truly amazed by the meticulously maintained gardens, the enchanting statues, and the magnificent fountains that make this terraced garden something truly special; all of which are a glorified backdrop to the Palais de Luxembourg, which was built in the 1620s for Marie de Medici.
There are even apple orchards and beehives that produce honey, here in the Southern part of the park. Who knew! Geez, where was I when I visited. I missed out on all of that awesome.
And while you can’t picnic here since many of the lawns are off-limits:
Just be all Parisian about it and commandeer some of those iconic green metal chairs that everyone knows and loves.
STOP 4: EGLISE SULPICE
Umm, Eglise Sulpice was the scene of a murderous rampage in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.
Need I say more?
Kidding! Clearly, this church is much more than just a backdrop for a Dan Brown novel.
Started In 1646:
This place of worship has 21 side chapels, that took six different architects 150 years to finish. Crazy right?
This building also has a lovely Italianate façade, two rows of columns, neoclassical decor, and a series of intriguing frescoes, some of which depict Jacob wrestling an angel and Michael the Archangel doing battle with Satan.
I know very little about architecture and religious history. So let’s keep simple and say that this church is really pretty and that yes, you should definitely visit.
if you can:
I highly recommend taking advantage of the free guided tours offered here, in English, that depart at 12:30 pm on the first Sunday of every month.
***If you’re feeling a bit hungry for lunch and enjoy a classic French crepe, then definitely visit Little Breizh on the way to the Cluny Museum. I had a cheese and mushroom crepe that was not only beautiful look at but delicious to eat. Truly the perfect thin and crispy crepe. Breizh Cafe also has amazing crepes too since yeah, err, um, I have a serious crepe addiction.***
STOP 5: CLUNY MUSEUM
Come with me as we frolic aboard the unicorn bandwagon of delight.
And no, this is will not turn into a quest for the holy grail of all Instagrammable, unicorn lattes in Paris.
Sorry to disappoint.
But if you are interested in learning about the origin of unicorns and their historical significance, then the Musée Cluny is where it’s at.
This museum is dedicated to all things Medieval and currently (until November 25, 2019) has an exhibit that explores the development and importance of unicorn based myths throughout the past and present.
An intellectual approach to our perpetual infatuation with all things unicorn. Excuse me while I slip into my unicorn onesie.
At the heart of this exhibit?
A set of six tapestries that are aptly entitled, “The Lady and the Unicorn”. Woven in the 1500s, as society moved from the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, this masterpiece is truly one of the more unique things in Paris that I am truly happy I got to see.
If you visit the first Sunday of the month like I unintentionally did, then it’s free (most museums in Paris are on that day), which is always a super pleasant surprise.
STOP 6: EGLISE SAINT SEVERIN
I’m dying but I had to share this.
So I was doing a little research on Eglise Saint Severin and found this fun little factoid for ya. And you’re welcome in advance.
This church was built on the spot where the first recorded surgery for gallstones was performed in 1451. Lol. So random right? You can use that nugget of knowledge to win Jeopardy in the future.
And if you’re worried, the patient did survive. Shocking for that time period but true.
The historic Eglise Saint-Séverin Saint-Nicolas is apparently a great example of flamboyant Gothic architecture in Paris.
What makes architecture flamboyant is what I wanna know! But I digress.
I love it here because not only are there lovely stained glass windows and intricately carved capitals, but the church has a somber yet spiritual/peaceful feel that is in refreshing contrast to the often chaotic and congested streets of Paris.
Feeling uber cultural?
You can apparently attend opera and spiritual concerts here if that is something that would enhance your trip to Paris.
Clearly I haven’t done that but I’m always up for trying something new.
STOP 7: SHAKESPEARE & COMPANY
I know I have a weird obsession with books and bookstores, but I promise that even if you’re not a huge fan of bookstores, you’ll still love this place.
It puts the extra in extraordinary. It’s a place where writers, intellectuals, and artists all congregate to soak up the residual literary inspiration from the icons of the past that have called this place home.
Even today, you can still sleep among the store’s cozy bookshelves. atop small beds that double as reading benches and writing desks during the day.
And believe it or not:
Since Shakespeare and Company opened, over 30,000 young writers and artists have stayed in this bookshop, including then-unknowns like Robert Stone, Ethan Hawke, Jeet Thayil, Geoffrey Rush, and David Rakoff (Shout out to Geoffrey Rush because I love him as an actor).
Walking through these stacks of books you feel an aura of greatness that inspires you to comb through the shelves and create a piece of art that means something to the world.
It’s like somehow:
These temporary guests leave an indelible mark on the intellectual community of this store, a place where it feels okay to dare to dream.
***We interrupt our regularly scheduled program and aforementioned Paris Latin Quarter tour to bring you some of the best Latin Quarter Paris restaurants. Now, two of the restaurants that stick out to me and that are relatively close to this bookstore are Le Porte-Pot (a cozy little restaurant that is perfect for French classic cuisines like escargot, duck, and tuna) or Little Cantine (a burger joint with killer fries that are even better when dipped in mayonnaise).***
STOP 8: BERTHILLON GLACIER
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
Except this place sells ice cream on steroids, but in the best possible way, making this the perfect place to end our travels across our Latin Quarter map.
Be prepared though:
The ice cream has an almost taffy-like consistency that makes it rich, decadent, and super creamy, making Berthillon Glacier a supremely popular dessert destination in Paris.
I love the mint chocolate chip, but the sorbets are epic too, and I don’t even like sorbet! LoL. Somehow though, the fruity flavors of the sorbets (like the peat and melon) here just explode in your mouth and make this the perfect treat on a hot and sticky day.
This place is popular and not exactly a hidden gem of Paris. Therefore, be prepared to wait in line. But I swear the wait is totally worth it.
My fancy smancy Latin Quarter Paris map of one of my favorite free walking tours in Paris.
Well my Paris homies, you now have a guide to one of my favorite free Paris walking tours, as well as a super awesome Latin Quarter Paris Map!
Stick with this free Paris walking tour of the Latin Quarter and you will love strolling through the Medieval architecture of these quaint and narrow, cobblestone streets (stop at Place de L’Odeon and Place Saint Michel since both are lovely Paris photo spots) just as much as I do.
So if you’re ready to start planning your Latin Quarter Paris walking tour then pin this now and read it again later!