Saint Germain Des Pres

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Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Paris Overview

Saint-Germain-des-Pres is a quarter located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, France. It is bordered by the River Seine on the north, which testifies for its beautiful views. It is the birthplace of many non-conformist notions such that its divergent tendencies sit comfortably next to age-old Parisian architecture and glory. The quarter is known for its variety of street shops, bookstores, famous cafes and publishing houses. The eminent school of fine arts, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Musee national Eugene Delacroix, former apartment and studio of painter Eugene Delacroix are also located in this area.

The Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres is a popular place of interest within the quarter. The abbey was initially taken down in earlier times but was recently restored in 2012. The primary reason for the popularity of Saint-Germain-des-Pres is its history and reputation amongst writers and artists of all kinds. Legendary artists of English Literature such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound formed a group called the Lost Generation and were known to hang out in this neighbourhood. 

Jazz and Existentialism, two strong non-conformist movements that emerged against the World War found a prominent stronghold in this administrative quarter of Paris during the 20th century. Post-World War II, the literary life of Paris converged at the Saint-Germain-des-Pres, mainly because of its non-conformism and the humongous presence of bookstores and publishing houses. Cafes in the area provided serenity to writers and authors and helped them overcome the writer’s block. Actors, musicians, poets and philosophers used to form groups and gather around in the area, to discuss emotions, feelings and life in general.

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Travel Guide for Saint-Germain-des-Pres

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Saint-German-des Pres could be a tourist destination all by itself as it caters to the 5 major needs of any tourist - mouth-watering food, appetizing desserts, historically significant architecture, spaces for those shopping woes and loads of picturesque lanes to roam around and explore. Here is a simple guide to finding your way around the quintessential quarter of Paris: 

1. Big 4 Cafes - Les Deux Magots, Cafe de Flore, Le Procope, Brasserie Lip       
2. The Odeon 
3. Academic Buildings - Institut de France, Académie des Beaux Arts
4. Museums - Musee Eugene Delacroix, Musee de la Monnaie
5. Churches - Saint-Germain-des-Pres Church, Church of Saint-Sulpice        
6. Gourmet Delicacies - Le Bon Marche, Pierre Herme, Debauve & Gallais, La Grand Epicerie 
7. Shopping Stops - Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Karl Lagerfeld, GAP, Armani, 
8. Book Stores - L'Ecume des Pages, TASCHEN Store Paris, Librairie Polonaise
9. Antique Stores - Yveline Antiques, Antiques Valérie Levesque, Galerie Etienne de Causans Sarl

St. Germain History

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The existence of Saint-Germain-des-Pres dates back to the Medieval era. The origin of this area and the eminent church began in the 6th century. In 542, during the war with Spain, King Childebert I came across the residents of Zaragoza province and noticed that they were praying to Saint Vincent to protect themselves from his armies. After that encounter, King Childebert’s mercy triumphed such that he decided to lift the siege on the area. In order to thank Childebert, the bishop of Zaragoza gave him the saint’s stole. This stole saw its way into Paris, and was stored in the newly constructed church after the death of King Childebert I. Bishop Germain was the bishop of Paris, hence, the area was named Saint-Germain-des-Pres.

The church was dedicated to guarding relics and burying holy people. These activities have now been moved to the Basilica of Saint-Denis, which has resulted in the loss of many relics during transit. The Abbey served as a centre for intellectual activity until the French Revolution. When the people of France were revolting against abuse of power, they captured the majority of the lands owned by the church, resulting in little remains of the original complex.

Throughout the entire 20th century, the area was a centre of non-conformism and diversity.  There existed a large number of cafes and bars which were known for being the meeting place of American soldiers and sailors after the war. Saint-Germain-des-Pres was also used as the meeting place for the gay community of Paris, especially at the Cafe de Flore and Cafe Carrefour. Due to low prices, the area also became popular among students from nearby areas and universities.

Big 4 Cafes in Saint-Germain-des-Pres

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Cafes and bars are places which, in most cases, don’t need to be mentioned explicitly, but when it comes to Saint-Germain-des-Pres, they do. This place holds pride in its cafes and dining lounges. These bars and cafes showcase their finesse in all kinds of European cuisine, and other types of delicacies. These places are must-visits when it comes to soaking in all the flavours of excellent food within Paris, France. 
a. Les Deux Magots

Timings: 7.30 AM - 1 AM
Price: EUR 8 - 35(excluding wines, which tend to be costlier); Official website at Lesdeuxmagots.fr
Must Try: Croque-Monsieur, Champagne

b. Cafe de Flore

Timings: 7.30 AM - 1.30 AM
Price: EUR 8 - 24; Official website at cafedeflore.fr
Must Try: Quiche Lorraine

c. Le Procope

Timings: 11.45 AM - 12 AM
Price: EUR 9.5 - 43; Official website at procope.com
Must Try: Gilthead Bream ceviche

d. Brasserie Lipp

Timings: 9.45 AM - 12 AM
Price: EUR 11 - 115 (excluding wine and champagne); Brasserielipp.fr
Must Try: LIPP special sauerkraut

The Odeon in St. Germain

Theatre Odeon, Paris
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 Theatre Odeon is one of the six national theatres of France, opened in 1782. A variety of shows ranging from artistic performances to exhibitions, like the current season - Mon Grand Amour, which are quite popular locally, are held here. The theatre also has a media library and archive room.

Timings: 11 AM - 6 PM
Price: Depends on the show; Refer to theatre-odeon.eu

Academic Buildings in Saint-Germain-des-Pres

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The major academic buildings located in Saint-Germain-des-Pres are Institut de France and Academie des Beaux Arts. Institut de France is a French Society which consists of five primary academies, and manages over a thousand foundations. There are guided tours available which is a great way to know more about the heritage of this place. You can visit the inside of the institute during the European Heritage Days of September. Academie des Beaux Arts, an academy for fine arts, is one of the five academies of the Institut de France. There are public exhibitions like ‘Cross the Fine Arts’, held at the institute which are quite interesting and unique.

a. Academie des Beaux Arts
Timings: 10 AM - 7 PM
Must see: Exhibitions
b. Institut de France
Timings: 10 AM - 6 PM
Must see: Architecture and grandiose structure

Museums in St. Germain

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Saint-Germain-des-Pres is undoubtedly incomplete without its museums. The two leading museums here are the Musée de la Monnaie and Musée Eugène Delacroix. Musée de la Monnaie, also known are the Paris Mint, is responsible for production and distribution of Euro coins. Musee Eugene Delacroix is an art museum dedicated to the works of the great French artist Eugene Delacroix. 
a. Musee Eugene Delacroix

Timings: 9.30 AM - 5.30 PM
Price: EUR 7

b. Musée de la Monnaie

Timings: 11 AM - 7 PM
Price: EUR 16

Churches in Saint-Germain-des-Pres

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There are two classic examples of Romanesque architecture located in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres - The Saint-Germain-des-Pres Church and Church of Saint-Sulpice. The former is one of the oldest churches in France, built in the 6th century, and the latter is the second largest church in the city, falling second to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. 

a. Saint-Germain-des-Pres Church
Timings: 8.30 AM - 8 PM

b. Church of Saint-Sulpice
Timings: 8 AM - 7.30 PM

Gourmet Delicacies in St. Germain

Saint-Germain-des-Pres
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Saint-Germain-des-Pres is particularly famous for its department stores and gourmet centers which cater to specific domains such as groceries, bathing, home decor etc. and specialize in day-to-day items. Le Bon Marché and La Grande Epicerie are the two primary stores which are quite popular for their variety of food items and beverages. Debauve & Gallais is an eminent chocolatier in all of Paris. On the other hand, Pierre Herme is locally known as the Picasso of Pastry. He started his career at the age of 14 and was awarded World’s Best Pastry Chef in 2016.

a. Le Bon Marche

Timings: 10 AM - 8 PM

b. Pierre Herme

Timings: 10 AM - 7 PM
Price: EUR 7 - 125
Must Try: Macarons

c. Debauve & Gallais

Timings: 9 AM - 7 PM
Price: EUR 220 per head
Must Try: Artisan Chocolates

d. La Grande Epicerie

Timings: 8.30 AM - 9 PM
Price: EUR 25 - 500
Must Try: Pink Wine

Shopping Stops in Saint-Germain-des-Pres

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For all the shopaholics visiting Paris, Saint-Germain-des-Pres has a wide range of Luxury Brand Outlets such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Karl Lagerfeld, GAP, Armani, Saint-Laurent, Dior, etc. These shops are usually quite loaded up with the latest collections due to Paris being the fashion capital of the world.

Bookstores in St. Germain

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Saint-Germain-des-Pres once served as the intellectual centre of Paris, for a lot of the greatest artists and academics you’ve ever known, like Oscar Wilde and Haussmann. Intellect can seldom come without books, and books are nothing without bookstores. Saint-Germain-des-Pres has three major bookstores that have been here for a long time - L’Ecume des Pages, TASCHEN Store Paris and Librairie Polonaise. These bookstores are home to enormous collections of international bestsellers as well as local books and documents. You’ll find everything here from French Literature to Comics. If not to purchase, visit these bookstores for the earthy smell of pages and the iconic wonder inherent to bookstores.
a. L’Ecume des Pages

Timings: 10 AM - 12 AM

b. TASCHEN Store Paris

Timings: 11 AM - 8 PM

c. Librairie Polonaise

Timings: 11 AM - 7 PM

Antiques Stores in Saint-Germain-des-Pres

Antiques Store
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Saint-Germain-des-Pres is also home to a number of antique stores out of which Yveline Antiques, Antiques Valerie Levesque and Galerie Etienne de Causans Sarl are the most prized ones. These stores contain a plethora of antiques such as fixtures, objects, paintings, furniture and even mannequins that can serve as a good souvenir to carry from this special place in Paris. For all the admirers of European Antiques, any of these three destinations is supposed to be a must-visit. 
a. Yveline Antiques
Timings: 11 AM - 7 PM

b. Antiques Valerie Levesque
Timings: 10 AM - 1 PM / 2 PM - 7 PM

c. Galerie Etienne de Causans Sarl
Timings: 11 AM - 7 PM

How To Reach Saint-Germain-des-Pres

There are two metro stations close to the area; The Saint-Germain-des-Pres and Mabillon stations. Here’s a list of a few lines that pass near this area - Metro: Metro - 4, Train: Train - L, N, Bus: Lines - 39,  58, 63, 95.

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