Jazz music whispers softly out of well-placed speakers as the neighboring table to the right debates the best route to take to the Louvre, and the woman to the left leafs through Le Monde, glazing over articles with such haste that you suspect her of waiting on a secret lover or private eye. Whoever he is, he arrives, dressed in snug jeans, a black sweater, sunglasses and a scarf and oozes fashion as he slides gracefully into the seat next to the woman, and she places the newspaper on round cafe table and reaches suddenly nonchalantly for her espresso.
Ah, people watching at a cafe…
Sure you will visit the Louvre, the Seine, the Eiffel Tower, but if you have not spent the day in a cafe in Saint Germain people watching, you have not experienced the true feeling of Paris. There is no area better for this ultimate Parisian experience than Saint-Germain. Sartre held his heated discussions on existentialism at Cafe de Flore (on Saint-Germain Boulevard and Le Tabou (rue Dauphine),where Simone de Beavoir and Albert Camus were also known to hang, while Hemingway soaked up the atmosphere at Brasserie Lipp right nearby. Though unlikely you would run in to Picasso or Sartre today, you will run elbows with rich and famous, fashionable bigwigs, artists both staving and commissioned, wiry intellectual types and of course, fellow tourists, in the cafes of Saint-Germain, located on the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) across the Seine from the Tuileries.
While your conversation may more match those of the group next to you debating directions to the next attraction, you can lose yourself in thought imagining what it would have been like to frequent Le Deux Magot at the same time as the writers of the ‘Lost Generation’ of the 20s and 30s and the existentialists who together transformed 20th century thought. The world’s first coffeehouse, Le Procope was built in 1686, but don’t expect any coffee at this venue in the Rue de l’Ancienne-Comedie, unless it accompanies your meal at the fine dining restaurant in its place.
You can easily book an apartment in Saint-Germain in order to take advantage of this, the heart of cafe culture in Paris. In addition to being near some of the most famous and interesting cafes in Paris, the Saint-Germain area has some of the best museums, restaurants, galleries and shops in the City of Lights.
This carefree and relaxed area of Paris lies in the 6th arrondissement, and is one of the best areas to book an apartment in to experience Paris as a local during your time in the city. This is the best neighborhood to wander without a plan, so explore the area freely. If you head east you’ll hit the Musee D’Orsay, the eastern border before hitting Invalides and the Eiffel Tower quarter, to the north you can wander until the river Seine, to the south you arrive at the Luxembourg quarter, while the Latin Quarter borders Saint-Germain to the West.
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