The district’s residents are known as “germanopratins” (try pronouncing that one!), and just like their name, their identity is unique to Paris.
A market town with a rural feel that has grown up around the former Benedictine Abbey named in honour of the Bishop of Paris, Germain, in the 7th century, the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the oldest church in Paris, which has lent its name to the district. Today it is one of the capital’s epicentres of culture in all its sophistication and nonchalance, famous for literature, cinema and lyrics alike.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés has an almost Narnia-like status for Parisians and non-Parisians alike, given how much of the history of France this district holds, not only that but the collective imagination of the rest of the world.
Higher education was almost born here with one of the first European universities, the Université de Paris, which taught the enlightened minds of Pierre de Ronsard, François Villon, Joaquim du Bellay and Thomas Aquinas, now the equally revered Lycée Louis Le Grand sixth form college.
Café culture is also omnipresent in the district, where great names like Racine, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Balzac and Jean Cocteau, Sartre and Beauvoir, Apollinaire, Boris Vian, Miles Davis and even Wes Anderson have all enjoyed the java of their day.
Such is the trinity that has given impetus to Saint-Germain-des-Prés over the centuries: Church, intelligentsia and cafés.
Nothing is ever lost here, instead it evolves around these three metronomes.
The district’s architecture reflects this constant change and variety, from the Gothic and Romanesque Merovingian church to Art Nouveau, embodied in the legendary brasseries. 1,000 years of architectural daring and avant-gardism, always a pioneer of its time.
This crossroads of creation and history is what makes the district one of the most desirable not only in Paris but in the world. The real estate here is truly exceptional and in high demand, and the clientèle is international - from studios to family apartments, everything is deluxe.
A stroll through the neighbourhood's streets is always a pleasure, with something new to discover every time such is the multitude of boutiques and cafés.
Art from all eras is exalted here, from the statues of the sculptor Ziadkine scattered here and there to the home décor stores popular with the international clientèle and from the design (Alexandre Biaggi, Galerie Diurne) and fashion stores (Saint-Laurent, Sonia Rykiel and APC are all rooted here) to the contemporary art galleries (Kamel Mennour and Amélie Maison D’art). Beauty is what the neighbourhood aspires to.
Although traditional Parisian cuisine is still going strong in the area (the finest brasseries, Lipp, Allard, as well as Mordu, L’Avant Comptoir du Marché and the Bar des Prés ), the neo-bistro trend has truly set in (Le Clown Bar, Les Parisiens, Racine des Prés) and culinary horizons are expanding to faraway lands, including blueberry makis which have become a big hit in the district, the surprisingly taste bud-tingling Sugaar or Benchy fusions and the ever-reliable Yen and Sushi Yoshinaga.
An infinite and delicious exploration of the senses - here everything gravitates around charm and elegance, the very definition of “germanopratin”!
Not to be missed
Rue de Fürstenberg winds between a delightful little square, once the courtyard of the former Palais Abbatial (where the church’s abbots once lived), still instilled with timeless charm and also home to the Musée Delacroix installed within the painter’s house surrounded by its enchanting garden.
The quintessence of the district’s nonchalant attitude.