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Saint Germain des Pres

Located in the lively Rive Gauche (Left Bank) neighborhood of Paris, the prestigious St. Germain des Pres district is a must see during any Paris vacation.  It was not only the center of the burgeoning Existentialist Movement of the 20th Century, but it also houses Paris’ oldest church and was home to the 1950’s “cultural emancipation” movement.  As a result, St. Germain des Pres remains one of the most popular destinations for tourists, many of them staying for weeks at a time in the numerous Paris apartment rentals that line the streets of Rue Bonaparte and Rue de Seine. 

Many of these Paris vacation rentals are located just steps from 2 of the city’s most well known cafes, Café de Flore & Café Deux Magots.   It is said that the great minds of Simone de Beauvoir & Jean-Paul Sartre, used to meet for drinks at the Café de Flore to talk about their revolutionary philosophies and famous writers like Ernest Hemingway and Albert Camus sat at Les Deux Magots to write some of their best work.  Even famed Pablo Picasso was seen frequenting the cafes, only further increasing their historical significance.

Just down the street stands the Church of St. Germain Des Pres. Built in the 6th Century, the church was such a strong cultural & religious force during the Middle Ages, that it truly became like a “city within a city” and the area surrounding it remains as such today.  The original abbey was the burial place for many Merovingian Kings and also for famed philosopher Rene Descartes.  Today, the area around the church stages concerts and recitals to be enjoyed by residents and tourists alike.

Although the rest of the district is mostly residential, consisting of hundreds of Paris apartments & flats, food & nightlife isn’t lacking.  The restaurants in the area can get a little expensive, but street side vendors sell wine, cheese, bread and other delights tourists can bring back to their own kitchen.  Many of the nearby Paris vacation rentals come with full kitchens that are perfect for cooking up a truly “French” experience that doesn’t break the bank.   For nightlife, the area can thank the “cultural emancipation” movement of the 1950’s.  Starting at the local university, Ecole des Beaux Arts, the movement brought in a number of hipster bars and jazz clubs that still exist today.   

For an unforgettable experience, spend a few days experiencing the streets of St. Germain Des Pres.  See the abbey in the morning, eat lunch at Les Deux Magots or Café De Flore, visit a jazz club at night and return to your boutique Paris hotel or apartment to get some rest before exploring the rest of the city.