For one of my Paris ‘arrondissement wanders’ I went to arrondissements 5/6, aka ‘the left bank’ (because it is left of the Seine), aka ‘the Latin Quarter’ (because it has traditionally been the home of students who would have, at one time, spoken in Latin).
This arrondissement is home to the famous Sorbonne University, and has traditionally been a place for intellectual debate and lively café society.
The area, however, is changing fast. It has become increasingly gentrified and many can no longer afford to live there. A tiny student room, sharing a toilet down the corridor, can now easily set you back 600 euros a month, which is out of reach for many impoverished students.
A good starting point for a walk around the Latin Quarter is Place St Michael, the start of many an uprising from the French resistance in world war two and later the student uprising of 1968.
From there you can go to the Sorbonne university.
From here it is just a short walk to Luxembourg Gardens, a beautiful park where Parisians go to relax in the sun and children sail little boats (a man is there hiring them out for 3 euros for half an hour) in the pond. No I didn’t go and hire myself a little boat, though I dearly wanted to; I felt too silly at my age.
There is a large selection of restaurants and cafes to choose from when you get hungry. Best thing is to avoid ones too close to any main attraction and avoid anywhere they describe the food as ‘authentic French cuisine’ (I feel the addition of the word ‘authentic’ means that it probably isn’t). If you can get by in French, then avoiding anywhere with an English menu is normally pretty sound advice too.
Unfortunately I didn’t heed my own advice; I was so busy enjoying myself and pointing my iPhone camera at anything and everything that I forgot to stop for lunch and then suddenly realized I was extremely hungry, so I ended up eating in the nearest place, spending too much on a mediocre meal.
Note to self: next time a bit more advance planning will help.
If you want to save some money you can always buy some bread and cheese at the supermarket and have a picnic at Luxembourg gardens. I saw plenty of people taking advantage of the sunshine and doing that and realized too late that that was what I should have done.