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5th Arrondissement of Paris : The historic and intellectual heart of Paris

History and evolution

The construction of the 5th arrondissement, also known as the Latin Quarter, dates back to the 1st century BC. Located on the left bank of the Seine, it is bordered by the 4th, 6th, and 14th arrondissements. It takes that name from the numerous schools of the University of Paris that were installed all teaching and speaking in Latin. This district has had a history of scholars and young activists inhabiting it. In fact, in May 1968, the Latin Quarter was the center of student revolt, which led to the occupation of the Sorbonne, the most famous and prestigious university in Paris. The Pantheon, which stands just near the town hall of the 5th, was initially planned to be a church, but it now houses and honors excellent characters who made a mark on French history. 

Notable monuments and sites

Pantheon : A neo-classical style museum located in the 5th, was initially built to make it a church to honor St. Genevieve but now contains the remains of some of France’s notable citizens. Construction of the Pantheon began in 1757 and was finally completed in 1790 by the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot, portraying the ideals of liberty and progress, which were super important in France in the 18th century. The dome of the Pantheon, which reaches 83 meters tall, was significantly inspired by the original Pantheon in Rome, and the interior portrays the paintings and sculptures that depict scenes from French History and its achievements. 

Sorbonne University : One of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities, founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon, is located in the 5th arrondissement. Originally a theological college, this university has expanded its areas of study through law, medicine, philosophy, humanities, and sciences. The University of Paris undertook the Sorbonne in 1896 when other faculties and institutions were brought under one administration. The college’s original house was founded in was influenced by the lack of career and future school children.

Vibrant neighborhoods

Jardin des Plantes : To escape the buzzing city, Jardin des Plantes is a perfect place off the metro stop Jussieu (line 7). Inside the garden are the National Museum of Natural History, greenhouses, a menagerie, and scientific exhibition buildings, also called galleries. With more than twelve entryways, the garden is free of charge and open all day long. After the French Revolution broke out, there were numerous changes to how the gardens would be organized, such as the protection of the Museum from the nation, and every officer of the Natural Museum would have their title changed to a professor. All the teachers within it would have equal salaries. The garden is divided into two sections: the French and English perspectives, both breathtaking natural differences. The Menagerie, found inside the gardens, is the second oldest zoo in the world. Opened in 1793, it attracted thousands of people to see exotic animals in France, such as giraffes, elephants, and lions. However, with old structures, the animals were carried out and no longer allowed to be displayed there; instead, now you can visit the Menagerie and see more than 1000 animals, mammals, reptiles, and birds that lean more towards the small to medium size range.

Cultural Activities

Mosquee de Paris : Built in 1926, the Mosquee de Paris is the oldest mosque in France, and it is still used for worship. It is seen as a symbol of the presence of the Island and Muslims in the country. It was built under the name of the Holy Places of Islam and chaired by Kaddour Benghabrit.  The main reason that prompted the construction of the Mosquee was to have a place to commemorate the lives of indigenous soldiers during WWI. It later played a critical role during the Nazi occupation of the City of Lights. The Mosquee welcomed Jewish families, disguising them as Muslims who worked there. This perilous effort paid off and saved hundreds of lives. Now, you can explore the Mosquee by sitting down with a friend for tea time at their cafe, having a nice meal at the restaurant, and having a relaxing day in their Hammam.

Musee de Cluny : Originally named Musee national du Moyen Ages- Thermes et Hotel de Cluny, is a 15th-century mansion that houses a collection of works, objects, and art of the medieval era with the addition of some Roman thermal baths. Multiple private owners owned the hotel until 1843 when the state decided to acquire it. The gothic style with the U-shaped buildings makes the hotel the oldest witness to this architecture in Paris. Ultimately, in 2016, with a fund of about 21.5 million euros, the renovation was to equip it with all the improvements it needed.

Nightlife and Gastronomy

At the dead center of the four districts of the 5th Saint-Victor, Jardin-des-Plantes, Val-de-Grace, and Sorbonne is la Place de la Contrescarpe. This square is surrounded by cafes, bars, and pubs packed at night. The nightlife is active because many young people populate this district due to La Sorbonne, which has various bars that expand from typical Parisian terraces to classic Irish pubs.

Le bar de Fer offers an impressive selection of local craft beers, natural wines and innovative cocktails, prepared by talented mixologists. Whisky and rum connoisseurs will also be delighted by the rich and varied menu. The lively atmosphere, often enhanced by live music or DJ sets on weekends, attracts an eclectic clientele made up of students, locals and tourists curious to discover this unique place.

La Table de Collette offers a luxurious experience to indulge in typical French cuisine with a modern twist. Chef and owner Josselin Marie works hand in hand with local vendors to make the highest quality dishes. Awarded a Michelin star, this restaurant continues to represent French excellence. It is also the first ‘eco-responsible gourmet restaurant.’

Connections and Accessibility

The main metro lines that travel through the 5th arrondissement are the 7th (pink)and the 10th(yellow). The stations include Cardinal Lemoine, Censier-Daubenton, Cluny-La Sorbonne, Austerlitz, Les Gobelins, Jussieu, Maubert-Mutualite, Place Monge, and Saint Michel.


In summary, the 5th Arrondissement of Paris, fondly known as the Latin Quarter, embodies centuries of history, culture, and intellectual pursuit. From the iconic Pantheon to the venerable Sorbonne University, landmarks stand as testaments to enlightenment and progress. Its vibrant neighborhoods, from the tranquil Jardin des Plantes to the lively Place de la Contrescarpe, offer diverse experiences for residents and visitors alike. Cultural institutions like the Mosquee de Paris and Musee de Cluny enrich the district’s tapestry, celebrating tolerance and heritage. The culinary scene, represented by gems like La Table de Collette, marries tradition with innovation, showcasing French gastronomy at its finest. With well-connected metro lines, accessibility ensures the treasures of the 5th Arrondissement are within reach for all. This district continues to captivate with its blend of history, culture, and culinary delights, inviting exploration and enchantment in equal measure.

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