HomeArticlesParis, France – Video Tour of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Part 1)
Paris, France – Video Tour of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Part 1)
December 16, 2019
New York Habitat Video with David Hill Saint-Germain-des-Prés – Paris, France Hello I’m David Hill with New York Habitat. Today we’re going to visit another lively neighborhood and a trendy place to live… Saint-Germain-des-Prés. There’s so much to see in this area, this will be the 1st episode of a three-part series dedicated to Saint-Germain-des-Prés. So be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and we’ll let you know when parts 2 and 3 are posted in the coming weeks. Saint-Germain-des-Prés is located just south of the Seine river and west of the Latin Quarter. It was once home to a large monastery and a tiny market town. It’s name in French means “St Germain in the meadows” and that was exactly where it was, outside the city walls of Paris. What makes Saint-Germain so popular today? Let’s take a look. This area really does have a lively history. By the 17th Century it boasted Molière’s first theater and the very first Comédie Française. It became the literary and artistic center of Paris. Begun about the year 1000, the Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Prés is the oldest existing church in Paris. Its rounded arches, small windows and heavy walls of the bell tower are typical of the Romanesque style. We see the church, but where is the monastery? Well, during the French Revolution the church was used as a gunpowder warehouse. What happened next? You guessed it – 15 tons of gunpowder exploded, blowing the side out of the church. All that remains now is the church itself and the palace of the abbot. Saint-Germain-des-Prés soon became a center for artists, intellectuals and writers. Already in the 17th century, the village was home to writers like Racine and La Rochefoucault. In the 19th century painters like Delacroix and Manet, as well as writers like Balzac settled here. Benjamin Franklin and Oscar Wilde also lived near the square. In the 1920s, many Americans were attracted by the charm of the neighborhood. Even Hemingway and his wife lived here, as well as Henry Miller. Later, Picasso moved here where he painted Guernica. Life in Saint-Germain still centers on the square in front of the church and on 3 famous cafés nearby. The three cafés are to the right, on the boulevard. Les Deux Magots, located at 6 place de l’Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Prés, is named for 2 Chinese figures on the wall inside, left over from when the café was once a silk merchant’s shop. When it opened, the café was a favorite of the poets Verlaine and Rimbaud. In the 1930s, Picasso liked to come here. The café was also frequented by the existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre and the writers Camus and Prévert. When les Deux Magots became a favorite of the Germans occupying Paris, Sartre and his colleagues abandoned it for Café de Flore on the next block, at 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain. The owner gave them the upstairs to sit, write and, of course, drink coffee. Sartre wrote his famous treatise “Being and Nothingness” in this very café. The other famous drinking place is the Brasserie Lipp, across the street at 151 Boulevard Saint-Germain. It was favored by the poets André Gide and Paul Valéry in the 1920s and it was here that Hemingway wrote “A Farewell to Arms”. It later attracted book editors and is now a haunt of journalists and politicians. So take a break at any one of these cafes to hob nob with the Parisian intellectual elite – just be prepared to pay the ‘elite’ prices to go along with the experience! Of course, the best way hob nob with the Parisian intellectual elite is to live like a local by renting a furnished apartment in the heart of this famous neighborhood. New York Habitat offers furnished rentals in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and all over Paris. There is no better way to experience the true flavor of Paris than to live in a true Parisian apartment. Once you’ve had an espresso and a croissant, you’ll be ready to move on to other areas of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Our final stop in this first episode is the Institut de France. The Institut de France at 23 quai Conti, with its distinctive dome was built in the 17th century for Louis XIV’s prime minister, Mazarin. It is now the French Institute, the headquarters of the five French academies of arts and sciences. The most famous academy is the Académie Française, whose jurisdiction is the French language. They are always updating the dictionary of permissible French words and expressions. Every year a few English words sneak in like ‘surfing’ and ‘chewing-gum’. Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our tour of Saint-Germain-des-Prés – an area where history and culture meet. If you can think of anything we’ve missed, make sure you leave a comment in the comment section below. Staying in an apartment is without a doubt the best way to experience Saint-Germain-des-Prés. And the best way to find a vacation rental is to visit our website at nyhabitat.com. Wherever you decide to stay in Paris, New York Habitat will have the perfect apartment for you. I’m David Hill with New York Habitat. We hope to see you soon, sipping coffee like a local in St-Germain-des-Prés!