Located in the 6th arrondissement (district) of Paris, surrounding the metro station and the Church with the same name, the Saint-Germain-des-Pres area is still considered as the epicenter of Parisian intellectual and cultural life. Even though nowadays there are as many luxurious boutiques flourishing here as literary cafes which remain in the hearts of those who pass by, it is still one of the most historically rich areas of the town.
The distinctive charm of Saint-Germain-des-Pres has attracted Parisians and tourists like magnets for more than a century now. Since the 18th century, intellectuals develop a real attachment to this particular place. Diderot and d’Alembert composed their Encyclopedia texts here and the revolutionaries met around a Procope table. Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre and many other great French authors drew their inspiration here along with numerous poets like Jacques Prevert who wrote their most beautiful works here… In short, intellectual, literary and artistic life developed in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and drew in painters such as Delacroix and Manet. Plaques are hung on the walls of the houses which were formerly home to all these big names of culture and French literary genius.
The district has since then maintained its literary and cultural soul acquired during these two previous centuries thanks to the cafés and restaurants which, at the time, created their own circle and literary value. Their fame largely surpassed French borders and still remains intact today.
The authentic beauty of Saint-Germain-des-Prés has also been preserved thanks to the many surviving buildings of the 17th century. But today the district is more popular due to its luxury boutiques, gourmet cafés and trendy tea salons than for its historical role. Lovers enjoy strolling around the little streets, the food-lovers salivate in the windows of the fine cake-shops and the literature lovers lose themselves in the aisles of old book shops.
In the evening, Saint-Germain-des-Prés is taken over by trendy and well-connected folk, who come to party, to drink a glass of wine on a terrace or even dine at Don Camilo, a famous Parisian cabaret where many French comedians and artists began their careers.
The atmosphere of this “little village” is perhaps no more than it was 50 years ago, but Saint-Germain-des-Prés remains to be one of the most prominent areas in Paris due to its history, cafés, boutiques and winding streets that you can happily weave through at any time of day.