Essential Guide To Saint-Germain-des-Prés
A Guide To Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Sharing my essential guide to Saint-Germain-des-Prés for your next Paris trip. There are 20 arrondissements located throughout Paris but my favorite one is Saint-Germain-des-Prés located in the 6th arrondissement.
Saint-Germain-des- Prés is located on the left bank (Rive Gauche) of the Seine and is known for its literary past where all the great writers of the 1920s hung out, including Hemingway, Fitzgerald, etc…
It’s also full of chic luxury boutiques, charming streets, lively cafés, and energy, unlike any other arrondissement. Everyone has their favorite arrondissement in Paris and favors either the right or left bank. I am definitely a left-bank lady and forever a Saint Germain loyalist.
All of the places included in this essential guide to Saint-Germain-des-Prés are based on where I’ve been and what I love doing in the area. It will be different for everyone but hopefully, this guide to Saint Germain will provide a good start.
Where To Stay In Saint-Germain-des-Prés
A darling boutique hotel tucked away in a corner, Hotel Récamier is across from Saint-Sulpice Church. With only 24 rooms, each one different, the hotel is uniquely Parisian and quite charming.
The staff is incredibly attentive and available 24 hours a day. The hotel is also a close walk to the Luxembourg Gardens and a convenient taxi stand is a few minutes away.
Hotel Bonsoir Madame
A luxury boutique hotel, Hotel Bonsoir Madame, has 34 rooms in a fabulous location on Rue Madame, right around the corner from the Luxembourg Gardens.
The hotel has a charming spot for breakfast, welcoming staff, and several cafes and restaurants all within close walking distance.
Cafés To People Watch In Saint-Germain
My absolute favorite thing to do when in Paris is sit at a café and people-watch. I could literally do this for hours and my favorite place to do it is in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
It first started about 10 years ago on my first trip to Paris. Several of these cafés are the perfect mix of tourists plus Parisian charm and definitely worth a visit.
My husband and I would go to Les Deux Magots every day and sit at the same table (not sure how we got so lucky), order a bottle of wine, and sit and watch all the people and all the interesting fashion go by. Now, it’s become such a staple part of any trip to Paris.
Any Parisian café is perfect to people watch but here are my favorites specifically in Saint Germain. You can read all about dining and café etiquette in Paris in this post.
Café de Flore
The iconic Parisian Café de Flore is well known for its famous history of intellects and writers who would frequent it. It’s still iconic to this day but it’s also pretty touristy.
However, locals still go as well and it’s always worth a visit to this café. I would recommend going for breakfast especially if you are interested in taking some good pictures.
Just be aware that you may not receive the best service here due to the fact they know most of the people are tourists. Sit outside on the terrasse but there’s also an upstairs that’s worth a look at and where the bathroom is located.
Les Deux Magots
My favorite café in all of Paris is Les Deux Magots, and maybe it’s just because it has a soft spot in my heart from our first trip. However, every time I go to Paris this is always the café I end my first day with.
Les Deux Magots is perfectly situated on the corner next to Café de Flore and is the perfect place to people-watch. Try and get a table on the corner spot close to the street if you can.
Usually, you can walk up and sit down but there are times when this café is very busy and you will have to wait to be seated.
My other favorite café behind Les Deux Magots is Le Bonaparte. It’s actually behind Les Deux Magots on the corner among the cobblestone streets. It’s utterly Parisian charming with its blue, red, and white awning.
Usually, I will start at Le Bonaparte in the early afternoon with a glass of champagne then make my way over to Les Deux Magots for an aperitif (before dinner drink).
Where To Eat In Saint-Germain-des-Prés
This of course is the most important question always when in Paris right? Well, you can’t go wrong at these restaurants in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Of course, I am sure there are many more places that can be added to this list. These are the places I’ve eaten at and would recommend.
Located downstairs from the Ralph Lauren store on Boulevard Saint Germain is Ralph’s restaurant. Yes, I know you’re thinking why would I go all the way to Paris and eat American food?
Well, because it’s incredible and the courtyard and restaurant are so beautiful. Everything from the dishes to decor to flowers is all that you would expect from Ralph Lauren. Order Ralph’s burger, so American but so tasty.
You can’t make a reservation online for Ralph’s, you either have to call or stop by. A few times we’ve been lucky and able to walk right in, and other times we’ve called ahead to make a reservation.
A great place for Neopolitan pizza and pasta plus super cute decor, also kid-friendly. I would make a reservation here as well if you can. During the summer, the restaurant fills over into the street and is a great place for a long afternoon lunch.
One of Ina’s favorite restaurants in Paris is Le Voltaire and for good reason. It’s so very French and an amazing experience. You must make a reservation here and I recommend it for later in the evening.
The food is incredible and even the dish the butter came in was beautiful and memorable. Order every single course you can here because it’s well worth it, then walk it off back to your hotel or wherever you are staying.
Le Comptoir du Relais
On our first trip to Paris, we just happened to stumble upon Le Comptoir du Relais and had no idea how famous the restaurant was. You want to make a reservation for this one if you can.
I’ve been back here twice and the food has always been outstanding and incredibly fresh. The inside is quaint and charming but the outside patio is where all the action takes place.
Tip: If you stay at the adjoining hotel you get first dibs on reservations for the restaurant.
An unexpected find on our last trip was Le Gorgée, a cozy bistro serving traditional French dishes but with a healthy twist.
Everything from the server to the food and wine, and dessert were incredible. I think we ended up staying around 3 hours because we were enjoying the evening so well.
Le Pré aux Clercs
A classic French bistro located on rue Bonaparte, Le Pré aux Clercs serves traditional steak and frites as well as roasted chicken.
The service isn’t amazing here but it’s nice and cozy inside and the last time I was there, a lot of locals were dining, so I always take that as a good sign.
Prescription Cocktail Club
Not a restaurant but an iconic Parisian cocktail bar, Prescription, is a great place for an evening nightcap. We actually stumbled upon Prescription on our trip several years ago and still talk about that evening to this day. It has an amazing vibe and was recently renovated. If you’re in the mood for a little Parisian nightlife then make sure to stop by.
Where To Shop In Saint-Germain-des-Prés
One of the newest locations to open for Sézane is located in Saint Germain near Le Bon Marché. If you are a fan or would like to see Sèzane in person definitely stop by this location while in the area.
This is my go-to Parisian brand for all my essentials. If you would like to know more about the brand or wondering about sizing you can read about it in my Sézane sizing guide.
My favorite candle store and the original location for Diptyque is in Saint Germain. I always like to go and see what they have that’s exclusive to Paris and they usually have several scents.
Store carrying great Parisian basics. The quality is superb and prices are affordable.
Le Bon Marché
Gorgeous department store carrying all the latest and classic brands. If you’ve never been to a Parisian department store, you absolutely must go.
A charming and whimsical store on rue Madame featuring creations by Marin Montagut. Here you will find glassware, and tableware, all designed by Montagut with his signature designs.
Even if you aren’t familiar with the artist this store is a must-visit for all the curiosities inside. One of my favorite items is a porcelain bowl with a signature green chair, from the famous Parisian parks.
One of those specialty stores you buy something from just because of the packaging. If you are treating yourself to something in Paris, this would be a wonderful store to do that. The brand carries everything from lotions to fragrances and little curiosities.
It’s also a beautiful store to pick up gifts for friends and family back home. I have bought many gifts from this store. They will hand-write in calligraphy the person’s name and attach it to the gift, such a beautiful touch.
An experience in a Parisian pharmacy is unlike anything else and City Pharma is the best. Just go early if you can because this place fills up and the aisles are tiny.
There are dedicated ladies who work in the pharmacy that can help answer questions about which beauty product is best for your skin type.
Make out your list ahead of time of the beauty items you are wanting if you know. You can see my favorite French morning skincare routine in this post.
This is where I stock up on all my favorite French beauty products when I can. They are much cheaper here than in the states.
Where To Find Sweets In Saint-Germain-des-Prés
You know if Ina Garten is listing this as one of her favorite bakeries it can’t be beaten. My favorite is always a pain au chocolat early in the morning right after they’ve come out of the oven. This is also a great bakery to pick up some bread for a picnic.
There are 2 macaroon places known in Paris and one is Ladurée, which also happens to be my favorite. The packaging alone and the decor of the shop win me over every time.
Sometimes there’s a line waiting to get inside during the busy months so go early if you can. You can also make reservations if you would like to eat in the restaurant, might I suggest the pain perdu (french toast).
The other place known for its macaroons which also has a cult following is Pierre Hermé. Try both places and see which one you like best and let me know because I am always curious to know what people prefer.
À la Mère de Famille
An incredibly beautiful chocolate shop that I go into every time I am in Paris. The chocolate is incredible and I always grab a few of their beautiful gift boxes to bring home for people.
Specialty Food Shops In Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Another one of Ina Garten’s favorite places in Saint-Germain-des-Prés is Barthélemy Fromagerie. It’s a quintessential French cheese shop that is so darling and worth seeing the outside alone. I love going there to get cheese, crackers, and jam for a picnic. A visit to a true fromagerie is an experience in itself. You tell the cheesemonger what you are doing with the cheese and they will make suggestions to you, which I always take. You would never believe how many variations of cheese there are.
La Grande Épicerie
A food department store basically, don’t mistake it for an exuberant grocery store. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen when it comes to food. Everything is picture-perfect stacked on the shelves, very French.
Just across the street from the main Le Bon Marché, make sure to pick up some pastries from here, check out the amazing wine selection, and maybe even grab a few gifts to take home.
Saint-Germain Gardens To Visit
One of the prettiest gardens in all of Paris. There’s so much to do in this garden, grab a glacé and sit in one of the iconic green chairs. If you are traveling with kids, they can rent one of the boats and sail it around the pond.
The Medici fountain is here, as the beautiful palace, and more. Grab some cheese, a baguette, and a bottle of wine on a sunny day and have a grand picnic.
Hopefully, this essential guide to Saint-Germain-des-Prés is useful on your next trip. Violà!
You can find all the places bookmarked here for you on Google Maps.