A Stroll through Saint-Germain des Prés

A cloudy Monday morning in early June called for an exploration of the area known as Saint-Germain des Prés in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, starting with this beautiful church, Église de Saint-Germain des Prés. I’ve included a map at the end of this post so you can replicate this walk 🙂

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A Benedictine Abbey, L’eglise de Saint Germain des Prés was the burial place of Merovingian Kings of Neustria, built in the medieval times during the 6th century between 511-588. The bell tower is in the Romanesque style and was constructed around 1000 AD.

Go inside! It’s sooo beautiful!

I was taken with the detailing on these columns in the center of the photo, and the colors along the top of the doorway on the right.

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And with this old, detiorating doorway near the front entrance…where could it lead?!

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Don’t miss an actual Picasso (I didn’t know he sculpted too!) in the garden to the left of the front entrance, made in honor of his friend Guillaume who died in WW1, with the face of Guillaume’s mistress.

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Les Deux Magots is just across the street from the church at 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés. An iconic café – stop for a café for “take away”. Magot means “stocky figure from the Far East” as this location was originally a silk shop named for a popular play at the time. Converted to a café sometime between 1873 and 1884, the café has been visited by James Joyce, Julia Child, James Baldwin, and Richard Wright to name a few.

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Photo courtesy of Debauve et Gallais

Debauve & Gallais was the Royal Pharmacist for Marie Antoinette. Her medicines were secreted within chocolate because she wouldn’t take them any other way 😉 Great gifts and souvenirs here, all in very pretty packages.

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Photo courtesy of Hôtel de Vinci & Spa

Da Vinci Hôtel & Spa: walk across Rue Jacob, and on the right you’ll find the location where in 1911 the Mona Lisa spent 3 nights when she was stolen from the Louvre! If you’d like to peruse the gorgeous rooms in this hotel, click here. A bit pricey for this budget minded traveler, but some of you might be lucky enough to stay here, possibly even in their Mona Lisa Suite! You might simply chose to splurge for a spa appointment, or book a just couple of nights out of your entire trip.

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We were in need of a coffee fix, so we stopped at Le Pré aux Clercs choosing a table just inside the door as it was pouring rain at the moment. I swiftly ordered a café crème, and it was absolutely the BEST coffee I have ever had in Paris, or anywhere else for that matter! Just delectable! Paid way too much for 2 cups – ha! Others in my group had the omelet and they said it was very good as well.

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The interior of the café is cozy with rich dark woodwork, and a tree growing in the middle of the adjacent dining area, adding a bit of quirkiness! This cafe was one of Hemingway’s old haunts. It was nice to relax for a minute, and people watch as they tried to avoid puddles.

 

Ladurée Paris Bonaparte is across from the café, shown above. Consider taste testing some of the iconic macarons, or just take a pretty pic of their colorful display! 😉

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Place de Furstemberg, at 8 Rue de Furstemberg, is a lovely little square right in the heart of Saint-Germain. Author John Baxter says it’s the prettiest spot in all of Paris, where you’re bound to find some beautiful creature lounging about the center courtyard!

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I’ll let you be the judge, but I have to agree that it is a charming little square. This gorgeous flower shop definitely adds to the vibe.

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On the right side of the square (with the flags, shown above) you’ll find the entrance to the Delacroix museum at 6 Rue de Furstemberg – not to be missed, and free with your museum pass!

If you didn’t opt to purchase the museum pass, you may purchase museum tickets at the door for only 7 euros. There’s also an option to purchase a combined ticket to include entry into the Louvre for 15 euros. A free guided tour is available daily at 3pm and 4:30 pm, no reservations needed. NOTE: this museum is closed on Tuesdays.

More info on the Paris Museum Pass: the pass is good for 2, 4, or 6 days (48, 62, 74 euros respectively). It can be shipped directly to your home before your trip, you may have it delivered to where you’ll be staying, or there are points of sale in Paris where you can go pick up a pass once you’ve arrived (ie: airports, museums, monuments, visitors centers, kiosks, etc). The options are vast – every shopper can choose the best one to suit their needs! This link is for the option to mail to yourself ahead of your trip…because I’m THAT type of planner, hehe! I needed to have all tickets in my hot little hands ahead of time 😉

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This is a small museum as it is housed within the artist’s former home. Once you’ve explored the interior, go out the back door to discover an amazing garden!

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There is another annex to the museum, and you can sit and soak up the peace in the garden as well. While we were there, a group of artists were sitting in this green space sketching…it seemed surreal to be in such a tranquil green space in the middle of the city.

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At 36 Place Saint-Sulpice you’ll find a gorgeous, tiny, narrow house. The reason to stop here is to observe the fancy house numbers above the doorway (towards the bottom of the picture above). Instead of the standard blue ceramic tiles you see all over Paris, these numbers are more intricate and embellished, which would have been an indication in the 19th century that this location was in fact a brothel! Once you’ve spotted this one, see if you can spot others around the city.

You must go into the Saint-Sulpice church after having been to Delacroix’s museum! And here’s why: find the Chapel of the Holy Angels from the entry it’s on the right hand side, the first alcove/chapel you would come to).

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Delacroix was commissioned to create the paintings in this chapel specifically about angels, but he didn’t like people telling him what to paint, so he chose the most violent angel stories he could find in the Bible! What a rebel!

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I have a thing for old cathedrals…something about them seems to give me a reset, and refreshes my soul. Ever since visiting the Pisa Cathedral in Italy back in 2013, and literally being moved to tears for some inexplicable reason, I always try to wander through every cathedral I come across, to soak up the peace and beauty surrounding me.

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The “pulpit” is a work of art all on its own!

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This unusual art installation was quite moving, and somewhat of a surprise inside the Saint Sulpice.

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Details about the church itself: It took nearly 100 years to build in the 17th century, and six architects! The 2 towers are different because of damage during the revolution.

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Église Saint-Sulpice also contains the “rose line” if you follow these bits of pop culture 😉 Just don’t ask any of the church staff about it…they are over all the questions about the Da Vinci Code movie!

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I’m sure you’ve worked up an appetite…at Pierre Hermé there are loads of choices, and the BEST macarons in all of Paris! We ate, we voted, it was decided – lol!

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Luxembourg Gardens is a short stroll down this same street. Take a rest by the famous Marie de Medici fountain. Just gorgeous! We spent quite a bit of time just meditating on the elaborate statues, and the “trompe l’oiel” (trick of the eye) ~ the stone work on both sides of the water increases in height as it gets closer to the statues making it appear that the water is sloping down, when of course we know that water levels itself! Quite clever!

Thank you for coming along on this little walk through some of my favorite bits of a gorgeous Paris neighborhood. And finally here is the map I promised, click here: A Stroll through Saint-Germain des Prés.