Grand brasseries, shady boulevards and offbeat galleries have made Montparnasse a magnet for artists and gourmands since the days of Oscar Wilde and Pablo Picasso. These days, it represents the essence of the Left Bank, and is one of the most laid-back quartiers to explore in Paris.
Paris has plenty of neighbourhoods where you can idle in corner cafés, admire great art and stroll through overgrown cemeteries – but none are quite like Montparnasse. “It’s the traditional Left Bank,” says photographer Becca Gerbino, “an infusion of French culture, art and history. I love shooting here because I am able to capture local and traditional Parisian life.”
You’ll find authentic experiences in spades, perhaps shopping on market streets like rue Daguerre or eating chantilly-smothered crêpes in an institution such as La Crêperie de Josselin. Then there are the cutting-edge installations at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, creepy subterranean experiences at the Catacombes and magnificent city views from the Tour Montparnasse.
What was once the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul hospital, lying in a no man’s land between Port-Royal and Denfert-Rochereau, is now a creative live-work utopia, thanks to the ambitious vision of Les Grands Voisins. The project is still a work in progress, but 2,000 people – including refugees, artists and craftspeople – are already living and working here. Visitors are welcome to stop by for a coffee (pay it forward and buy one for a neighbour, too), drink at the bar (open evenings from Wednesday to Sunday), or shop in the boutiques and ateliers. The on-site restaurant, L’Oratoire, is a great space to stop for lunch (three courses for €13 (£11.50)), especially in summer, when you can eat at tables in the courtyard.
Rosebud’s white-jacket-clad bartenders have been mixing martinis, manhattans and moscow mules at this old-school, wood-panelled bar for more than 50 years, and it still regularly makes lists of the best bars in the world. This isn’t the kind of place where you come to see and be seen, but to put the world to rights over a quiet cocktail or three. Expect a jazz soundtrack and beautifully made classic drinks. Consider eschewing the traditional old fashioned and order a new fashioned (Peychaud’s Bitters, maraschino and bourbon for €14 (£12.40)) instead.
Paris doesn’t have a theatreland equivalent to London’s West End or New York’s Broadway, so theatres are scattered throughout the city. La rue de la Gaîté is one of the few spots where they’re clustered together. This street has been a hub of stagecraft since the 1870s: the music hall stars of the belle époque performed here, as well as legends such as Edith Piaf and Josephine Baker. If you’re not sure about seeing a show in French, check out musical comedies like Tutu and Les Franglaises at Théâtre Bobino.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.