The northern half of the 6e arrondissement, centred on place St-Germain-des-Prés, is one of the most attractive, lively and wealthy square kilometres in the city – and one of the best places to shop for upmarket clothes. The most dramatic approach is to cross the river from the Louvre by the footbridge, the Pont des Arts, from where there’s a classic upstream view of the Île de la Cité, with barges moored at the quai de Conti, the Tour St-Jacques and Hôtel de Ville breaking the skyline of the Right Bank. The dome and pediment at the end of the bridge belong to the Institut de France, seat of the Académie Française, an august body of writers and scholars whose mission is to safeguard the purity of the French language. This is the most grandiose part of the Left Bank riverfront: to the left is the Hôtel des Monnaies, redesigned as the Mint in the late eighteenth century; to the right is the Beaux-Arts, the School of Fine Art, whose students throng the quais on sunny days, sketchpads on knees. Inspiration for budding artists is in plentiful supply at the stunning Musée d’Orsay, just a little further west along the river. The perfect place to unwind after a little sightseeing is the lovely Jardin du Luxembourg, which borders the Quartier Latin towards the southern end of the sixième.
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