Our tour of the arrondissements is back! This week we’re continuing our journey across the left bank to explore the beautiful 6e arrondissement. The 6e is one of the most expensive districts in Paris, and it’s easily the most photographed. If you’ve ever watched a movie set in Paris, chances are at least one scene was filmed on the cobblestoned streets of the 6e. So let’s dive in!
What’s in a Name?
The 6e arrondissement is named after the large park and palace that are located in the centre of the district. Unfortunately, the Luxembourg Palace is closed to the public, as it is the seat of the French Senate. However, the Luxembourg Gardens are very much open, and taking a stroll through this beautiful park is an iconic Parisian experience. But why the name Luxembourg?
This name dates back to the 17th century and Marie de’ Medici’s time as Queen Regent for Louis XIII. After the death of her husband, King Henry IV, Marie decided to build a new residence for herself next to the home of François de Luxembourg. This new building was modelled after the Pitti Palace in Florence, and it was originally to be called the Palais Medicis. However, after Marie was forced to leave the court in 1631, the palace was given to her second son, the Duke of Orléans, and renamed Palais d’Orléans. But neither of these names ever caught on with Parisians, who called the building the Luxembourg Palace after the original building. Nearly 400 years later, we still do. It’s why there is an Italian palace in France named Luxembourg.
Books, Books, and More Books!
The 6e arrondissement has a vibrant cafe culture, with hundreds of terraces available if you want to enjoy an afternoon drink and people watch. And it is on these terraces that artists, intellectuals, and writers have gathered for decades to discuss the ideas that would go on to become some of the most important social and artistic movements of the 20th century, including surrealism, existentialism, and modern feminism. The 6e also has a strong literary history that continues to flourish to this day. There are over 100 bookstores in this district alone, meaning it’s basically my idea of heaven.
Put on Your Walking Shoes
I always tell people that Paris is a walking city, and this is never more true than in the 6e arrondissement. This district was largely untouched by the great Haussmann renovation of the 19th century, meaning it’s one of the few places where you can still see old Paris. Therefore, my recommendation for this district is always to just go walking. Put the map away and follow the cobblestones to your heart’s content. There’s always something beautiful to discover around every corner.
Saint Sulpice – I wouldn’t say this church is particularly hidden given that it’s the third largest church in Paris. However, it receives only a fraction of the visitors of Notre Dame or the Sacre Coeur. Therefore, if you want to visit a stunningly beautiful church and feel like you have the place to yourself, Saint Sulpice is the church for you.
Cour du Commerce – This back alley may be one of the most picturesque passageways in the city. It also holds an incredible amount of history. So much so that I often say I could do a whole tour in this one alley alone. Definitely one of my favourite places in Paris.
The Red Wheelbarrow – A wonderful English language bookstore with a lovely Canadian owner. I have spent a lot of money here over the years.
La Jacobine – The best hot chocolate in the city, bar none.
Place de Furstemberg – A postcard perfect square that was made for Instagram.
Want to read more about the arrondissements of Paris? Click HERE.
Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.