The Latin Quarter ☆☆

Rue de la Huchette, one of the main streets of the Quartier Latin (Photo by Ninara)
Rue de la Huchette, one of the main streets of the Quartier Latin

The Quartier Latin around La Sorbonne of narrow streets lined by shops and bistros

The Quartier latin (Latin Quarter) has long been the educational center of Paris, ever since 12C philosopher Pierre Abélard was forced to relocate his controversial teachings and students from Île de la Cité to these narrow, often cobblestoned streets on the Rive Gauche (Left Bank).

Since medieval scholars all spoke Latin, the neighborhood soon earned its nickname. To this day, La Sorbonne and other French schools call the Rive Gauche home, and the academic air and student life continue to infuse this university neighborhood.

That also means: Plenty of cheap cafés, bistros, brasseries, crèperies, and—in this modern age—pizza places, gyro vendors, and sushi joints.

Also lots of book stores (when I was an adolescent, I used to get my Asterix and Tin Tin comics fix at the Gibert Jeaune on place Saint-Michel at rue de la Huchette;

The Latin Quarter has become a bit touristy—which bit of central Paris hasn't?—so there are also plenty of shops hawking "I ♥ Paris" T-shirts and the like, but the neighborhood is still worth a stroll.

Where is the Latin Quarter?

The boundaries of the Quartier Latin are a bit fuzzy, but at its greatest extent basically stretch from blvd Saint-Michel all the way to the Jardin des Plantes, and from the Seine up to the Pantheon, and then extending inland along the triangle formed by the shopping streets of rue Mouffetard ( and rue Monge.

However, the postcard-perfect core of it is much smaller, the streets (like rue de la Huchette and rue de la Harpe) surrounding the church of Saint-Séverin: From the Musée de Cluny on blvd Saint-Germain to the Seine, and from blvd Saint-Michel to rue Dante (and the fabled bookstore of Shakespeare and Company).

Photo gallery
  • Rue de la Huchette, one of the main streets of the Quartier Latin, The Latin Quarter, Paris (Photo by Ninara)
  • The Chapel of Sainte Ursule at the entrance to the Sorbonne University on place de la Sorbonne, The Latin Quarter, Paris (Photo by Mbzt)
  • Rue de la Huchette, one of the main streets of the Quartier Latin, The Latin Quarter, Paris (Photo by Ninara)
  • The famous English bookstore Shakespeare and Company, The Latin Quarter, Paris (Photo by Luis Irisarri)
  • A covered passage on rue Saint-André des Arts, The Latin Quarter, Paris (Photo by Luc Mercelis)
  • Lots of cheap place to eat in the Quartier Latin, The Latin Quarter, Paris (Photo by Daniel Stockman)
  • Couldn't resist putting in a shot of some old comics in a Quartier Latin shop window for old time's sake, The Latin Quarter, Paris (Photo by brownpau)
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Useful French phrases

Useful French for sightseeing

English (anglais) French (français) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Où est? ou eh
...the museum le musee luh moo-ZAY
...the church l'eglise leh-GLEEZ
...the cathedral le cathédrale luh ka-teh-DRAHL
When is it open? Quand est-il ouvert?  coan eh-TEEL oo-VAIR
When does it close? A quelle heure est-ce que cela ferme? ah kell eur es kuh suhla fair-MAY
ticket billet d'entrée bee-YAY dahn-TRAY
two adults deux adultes dooz ah-DOOLT
one child un enfant ehn ahn-FAHN
one student un étudiant uh-NETOO-dee-YON

Basic phrases in French

English (anglais) French (français) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you merci mair-SEE
please s'il vous plaît seel-vou-PLAY
yes oui wee
no non no
Do you speak English? Parlez-vous anglais? par-lay-VOU on-GLAY
I don't understand Je ne comprende pas zhuh nuh COHM-prohnd pah
I'm sorry Je suis desolée zhuh swee day-zoh-LAY
How much does it cost? Combien coute? coam-bee-YEHN koot
That's too much C'est trop say troh
Good day Bonjour bohn-SZOURH
Good evening Bon soir bohn SWAH
Good night Bon nuit  bohn NWEE
Goodbye Au revoir oh-ruh-VWAH
Excuse me (to get attention) Excusez-moi eh-skooze-ay-MWA
Excuse me (to get past someone) Pardon pah-rRDOHN
Where is? Où est? ou eh
...the bathroom la toilette lah twah-LET
...train station la gare lah gahr

Days, months, and other calendar items in French

English (anglais) French (français) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quand est-il ouvert? coan eh-TEEL oo-VAIR
When does it close? Quand est l'heure de fermeture?   coan eh lure duh fair-mah-TOUR
At what time... à quelle heure... ah kell uhre
Yesterday hier ee-AIR
Today aujoud'hui ow-zhuhr-DWEE
Tomorrow demain duh-MEHN
Day after tomorrow après demain ah-PRAY duh-MEHN
a day un jour ooun zhuhr
Monday Lundí luhn-DEE
Tuesday Maredí mar-DEE
Wednesday Mercredi mair-cray-DEE
Thursday Jeudi zhuh-DEE
Friday Vendredi vawn-druh-DEE
Saturday Samedi saam-DEE
Sunday Dimanche DEE-maansh
a month un mois ooun mwa
January janvier zhan-vee-YAIR
February février feh-vree-YAIR
March mars mahr
April avril ah-VREEL
May mai may
June juin zhuh-WAH
July juillet zhuh-LYAY
August août ah-WOOT
September septembre sep-TUHM-bruh
October octobre ok-TOE-bruh
November novembre noh-VAUM-bruh
December décembre day-SAHM-bruh

Numbers in French

English (anglais) French (français) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 un ehn
2 deux douh
3 trois twa
4 quatre KAH-truh
5 cinq sank
6 six sees
7 sept sehp
8 huit hwhee
9 neuf nuhf
10 dix dees
11 onze ownz
12 douze dooz
13 treize trehz
14 quatorze kah-TOHRZ
15 quinze cans
16 seize sez
17 dix-sept dee-SEP
18 dix-huit dee-SWEE
19 dix-neuf dee-SNEUHF
20 vingt vahn
21* vingt et un * vahnt eh UHN
22* vingt deux * vahn douh
23* vingt trois * vahn twa
30 trente truhnt
40 quarante kah-RAHNT
50 cinquante sahn-KAHNT
60 soixante swaa-SAHNT
70 soixante-dix swa-sahnt-DEES
80 quatre-vents  kat-tra-VAHN
90 quatre-vents-dix  kat-tra-vanht-DEES
100 cent sant
1,000 mille meel
5,000 cinq mille sank meel
10,000 dix mille dees meel

* You can form any number between 20 and 99 just like the examples for 21, 22, and 23. For x2–x9, just say the tens-place number (trente for 30, quarante for 40, etc.), then the ones-place number (35 is trente cinq; 66 is soixsante six). The only excpetion is for 21, 31, 41, etc. For x1, say the tens-place number followed by " un" (trente et un, quarante et un, etc.).

‡ Yes, the French count very strangely once they get past 69. Rather than some version of "seventy,' they instead say "sixy-ten" (followed by "sixty-eleven," "sixty-twelve,' etc. up to "sixty-nineteen.") And then, just to keep things interesting, they chenge it up again and, for 80, say 'four twenties"—which always make me thinks of blackbirds baked in a pie for some reason. Ninety becomes "four-twenties-ten" and so on up to "four-nineties-ninteen" for 99, which is quite a mouthful: quartre-vingts-dix-neuf. 



 (Photo by gadl)
Shakespeare and Company
Paris: Latin Quarter

The legendary English-language bookshop(s) of Paris

The famous Unicorn Tapestries (La Dame à La Licorne), c 1500 (Photo by Joe deSousa)
Musée de Cluny
Paris: Latin Quarter

Paris's Museum of the Middle Ages is located in some ancient Roman ruins. CLOSED MAR-JULY 2018

The nave (Photo by MitchellShapiroPhotography Follow)
Paris: Latin Quarter

A 15C late Gothic church with stained glass, flying buttresses, and gargoyles nestled in the heart of the Left Bank