Saint-Sulpice is one of the poshest quartiers in Paris. With neighbors that include Catherine Deneuve and Scarlett Johansson, it is the regular haunt of celebrities, writers, and intellectuals, making it the cultural capital of the city. The area is named for the nearly 400-year-old church and its soaring bell towers, declaring both the geographical and social center of the arrondissement. A stately square spills from the church steps, lions guarding the central fountain. After school children come to play kick ball, practice tricycle, and engage in all the sports that are forbidden in the nearby Luxembourg Gardens. Gourmands from across the globe fill the green park benches, savoring delicacies from the area’s pâtisseries extraordinaires: Pierre Hermé and Gerard Mulot. In the winter, there is a free merry-go-round for young children on the square, while in the summer the Foire Saint-Germain sets up stalls to celebrate poetry, math, ceramics, and antiques. And there are other festivals around crafts, volunteering, and jazz throughout the year.
The elegant Mairie, or city hall, dominates one corner of the square, providing a backdrop for neighborhood weddings, while the Café de la Mairie sprawls out from the opposite corner, creating one of the city’s most popular terraces for hours of people watching under dappling shadows of chestnut tree leaves.
The church perhaps regrets its Da Vinci Code fame, but is the proud caretaker of Eugène Delacroix’s Holy Angel chapel and a sundial’s gnomon that aligns with a brass bar on the floor at the spring equinox.
Just behind the Café de la Mairie is Thirst Square, a collection of three streets full of bars and restaurants that are particularly popular with the local crowd on game night. Chez Castel is a trendy night club while Catherine B consignment shop highlights rare, pre-owned treasures from the likes of Hermès and Chanel.
Zadig & Voltaire, 1 rue du Vieux Colombier (Top and Second from Top)/ Marie-Helene de Taillac, 8 rue de Tournon/Marie Mercié, 23 rue Saint-Sulpice
The streets that lead to and from the church are perfect for shopping enthusiasts with fashionable local brands that include Vanessa Bruno, Mes Demoiselles, Zadig & Voltaire and Agnès B, to name just a few of the several dozen. At 57 rue Bonaparte, Monsieur Pierre Heckmann restores antique ivory sculptures, working only with pieces that are old enough to be considered ethical. Coffee beans are roasted French-style at Cafe Estrella (34 rue Saint-Sulpice) and Marie Mercié builds fantastical fantasy hats at number 23. Visitors can purchase candles fit for a king (literally!) at Cire Trudon (78 rue de Seine) and jewels for a princess at Marie-Hélène de Taillac (8 rue de Tournon).
Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, run by the groundbreaking Experimental Cocktail Club, is a cozy place to savor deliciously unique wines and light snacks in an eclectic mid-century-meets-ethnic decor. Epicureans will enjoy a meal at the newly re-opened neo-bistro Le Bon Saint Pourçain or the très traditional Cuisine de Philippe, both on the pedestrian cobbled rue Servandoni, which leads to the Musée du Senat for a spot of culture and the Luxembourg Gardens for a moment of green.
Jardin du Luxembourg (Top)/ Cour du Commerce Saint-André; rue Antoine Dubois / Cour du Commerce Saint-André/ Le Bateau Ivre by Arthur Rimbaud, 4 rue Ferou (Bottom)
- Looking for more insider tips to Saint-Germain neighborhoods? Check out our roundup of local favorites on the rue du Bac.
- Learn more about the fabulous Catherine B and her luxury-meets-vintage shop in this profile on The Genteel.
- If you’re a fan of unique cocktails and eclectic wine selections, discover all of the Experimental Cocktail Group’s Parisian ventures in this Luxos article.