The Romans were right when they chose this hill to dominate Lutetia. For two millennia, the mound baptized Sainte Geneviève has been the oldest lookout post in Paris. The city’s history is constantly mirrored in every building like snapshots of a fabulous epic.
The entanglement of rue d’Ecosse, rue Lanneau and rue Laplace have a medieval air. Close by, the fine rigour of the Panthéon where our great men slumber is splashed with light. Here, you pass from the shadows to the light. The gentle obscurity of Saint Etienne du Mont offers narrow lanes with timeless names: Tournefort, Pot de Fer; and then, suddenly, places where cheerful and big-hearted life abounds: the busy terraces of Place de la Contrescarpe, the gourmet food market on Place Monge, the fine sand of the Arènes de Lutèce, and lastly the Jardin des Plantes which is never far away.
This is a neighbourhood where you are always climbing up… and going down again! The good slope on rue des Carmes, which leads to the dome of the Panthéon, is answered by the gentle sloping rue Mouffetard, with its flourishing wave of food establishments (especially on Sunday morning!) and a deserved cup of coffee beside the ravishing Saint Médard church.
Rodin was born here, and Descartes, Diderot, Merimee, and Verlaine set up home here – not forgetting Hemingway, who fled from the follies of Montparnasse to find the magic of eternal Paris. Ah, the gentle pace of life in Panthéon...
Despite the wealth of tourist attractions in the district, the Panthéon has never lost its charm, its soul, its residents or its secret life. Lunch together with the professors from the Sorbonne in the illustrious Balzar; Order a lemonade in the courtyard of the charming Hôtel des Grandes Ecoles; watch the students bent over their books in the spectacular Sainte Geneviève library; and then stroll through hidden gardens and discreet resting places - the gardens of the Irish Cultural Centre, the Ecole Normale Supérieure, rue d'Ulm. The Paris of parks and gardens is always there to balance the Paris of stone and buildings in an eternal harmony that never ceases to enchant in the city of light.
A district with the very first churches in Paris, Montagne Sainte Geneviève also has the oldest (and most beautiful) mosque in Paris. Drinking mint tea on a spring Sunday is a refined gourmet experience that cannot be too highly recommended.