Saint-Germain-des-Prés is the quintessential Parisian neighbourhood: gorgeous residential buildings, world famous universities, historic cafés and restaurants, boutique hotels, high-end art galleries, bookstores, design shops, museums. As Samuel Johnson put it, if you are bored in Saint Germain, you are bored with life.
I can’t picture a trip to Paris without a walk along Boulevard Saint Germain, breathing in the atmosphere that accompanies a living university district, at the same time trying to imagine what it looked like back in the days when some of the world’s brightest minds used to populate its sidewalks cafés. Most tourists are looking for a similar experience, so when it starts to get overwhelming it is time to leave the Boulevard and get lost in the maze of streets leading all the way to the Seine river. Besides the sheer beauty of their architecture – in my opinion, the best of what Paris has to offer – there is always something to catch your attention: an interesting boutique, a well dressed lady running errands, an old man taking a stroll at his own pace, hands crossed at the back.
We felt like we didn’t have enough time to spend in Saint-Germain-des-Prés this time. But that’s all right. We will always return. Besides the short walk on the Boulevard and on the adjacent streets, here are the few addresses we stopped at:
- After a couple of frugal breakfasts consisting of croissants with jam, yoghurt and fruits, we were craving for a hearty brunch, with scrambled eggs, roast potatoes, mushrooms, and a good ol’ smoothie. We found what we were looking for at Loulou Friendly diner, which combines Australian inspired dishes with Parisian brasserie’s specials, right on Boulevard Saint Germain.
- The air was chilly and the light far from inspiring, yet we headed over to Jardin du Luxembourg, without exaggeration the most beautiful park I know. Given the bad weather, our visit to the garden was more like a way to say goodbye to Paris (we were to return to Amsterdam later that day) than an occasion to disconnect and enjoy nature.
- It’s nowhere to be seen in the photos below, but we also made a stop at Le Bon Marché, to stock on French goodies from La Grande Epicerie de Paris. Like a kid in a candy shop – that’s how I feel when I’m there!