Place St-Michel Fountain

One of the city's most well-known meeting places, the statue depicts the archangel Michael vanquishing the Devil.

TravelCurious Tip

In such a popular area, it’s easy to choose the wrong place to eat. Pop into the tiny butchery Maison David and watch the owner in action, then enjoy a coldcut and glass of wine

This fountain was built during the French Second Empire, and it is fittingly monumental. It was part of a broader reconstruction project overseen by Baron Haussmann, Napoleon III’s trusted urban planner. The statue depicts St Michel vanquishing Satan, and was a political gesture to quell the obviously sinful revolutionary fervour of the neighbourhood.


The final design bears a façade divided into four horizontal levels. Corinthian columns frame the central niche. It courted controversy in some pernickety circles of French society for its use of various coloured stones. Using a single colour was more the norm, but here they used red and green marble, blue and yellow stone, and bronze statuary, among others — it was outrageous.


Initially the designer had planned to install a feminine central figure symbolising peace, but Napoleon III wanted it to honour his great predecessor, Napoleon Bonaparte, with a statue. His political opponents choked on their tea at this suggestion and a compromise was made: it would depict St Michel wrestling with the devil.


This was also where, during the 1968 riots, students took up arms against the police. Or, if not arms, slabs of paving stone which they wedged out and tossed at the police. The police returned in kind with batons and tear gas. Students invaded the square a declared it an “independent state”. It did not stay so for long, but their actions triggered mass strikes across the country that eventually brought General de Gaulle’s government to its knees.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Paris
The Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter represents the essence of intellectual Paris, a place to unwind amidst the rarefied atmosphere of the 5th and 6th arrondissements.
Shakespeare and Co Bookshop
A legendary meeting place and boarding-house for many aspiring writers. Stocks everything from Shakespeare to Joyce.
St Julien le Pauvre
Built in 1165 at the same time as Notre-Dame, this is the oldest and most charming of churches in Paris.
Rue du Chat qui Peche
Considered the narrowest street in Paris with only 1.80mts wide for the whole of its 29mts.
Thermes de Cluny
Gallo-Roman thermal bath's ruins lying in the heart of Paris' 5th arrondissement.
Church of Saint Severin
It is one of the oldest churches that remains standing on the Left Bank of the Latin Quarter, and it continues in use as a place of worship.

Related Tours

The Latin Quarter: Paris' Left Bank Private Half-Day Tour

The Latin Quarter is one of Paris' most quirky and interesting neighbourhoods located on the left bank of the Seine River, around the Sorbonne. It is an ambient juxtaposition of medieval backstreets, churches and grand Haussmman-style boulevards, which were built in the 19th century as part of Paris’ modernisation, the area takes its name from medieval times when the majority of local residents were clergy or students who spoke Latin.

On your private half-day tour, you will:

  • Explore the Latin Quarter with your private professional guide;
  • Experience the artistic haunts of Sartre, Hemingway, and Camus;
  • Get off the beaten track at Paris’ best-hidden squares and parks;
  • Walk Paris' narrowest street and see the city's oldest church;
  • See the famed Paris Panthéon and one of the most beautiful parks in the world - the Luxembourg Gardens.

The Latin Quarter was the scene of the student uprising in May ’68, even though its medieval facade strikes a strong contrast to its liberal, intellectual and artistic side. On Boulevard St-Michel and Boulevard St Germain, you will find many cafes where the likes of Camus, Orwell, and Hemingway passed hours discussing philosophy and literature.

The area is also rich with interesting book shops, most notably the Shakespeare and Company - a legendary meeting place and boarding house for many aspiring writers.

Your tour guide will direct you through the neighbourhood’s best cultural haunts: experience the wonders of medieval backstreets that are adorned with theatres and jazz clubs, unchanged since their post-war beginnings, and see the narrowest street in Paris. Visit the city’s oldest church in St Julien le Pauvre and see one of the most famous academic institutions in the world - La Sorbonne.

Next stop off at the Panthéon, a mausoleum where many distinguished French figures such as Voltaire, Braille, and Rousseau were laid to rest. Then wander through the grounds of the stunning Luxembourg Gardens and Palace, the perfect place to people watch, enjoy nature, and feel like a true Parisian.

Île de la Cité, Latin Quarter & Seine River Cruise: Private Tour
Embark on a private introductory tour of Paris and explore the Île de la Cité and the Latin Quarter, two iconic Parisian neighbourhoods and enjoy a Seine Cruise for amazing views of the city from the water.

On your private tour, you will:

  • Hear the founding stories of Paris and France - from the fall of Rome to the rise of the French kings, where it all happened on the Île de la Cité;
  • Explore the rich medieval history of Paris and the beautiful Gothic architecture on the island and through the Latin Quarter;
  • Learn the history and epic survival story of the iconic Notre Dame cathedral - the world's most famous Gothic cathedral;
  • Stroll around the Conciergerie, the medieval castle of the French kings;
  • Hear how King Louis IX built the Sainte Chapelle, purchased the Crown of Thorns, and became a saint;
  • Learn how the royal castle became a royal prison during the bloody French Revolution;
  • See where the revolutionary trials took place outside the Palais du Justice;
  • Explore the vibrant neighbourhood of the Latin Quarter - famed for its quirky streetsthriving nightlife, and gothic churches;
  • Hear about the history of the area from the founding of the Sorbonne, the second oldest university in Europe to the student riots;
  • Walk into Shakespeare and Co the bookshop and learn about the Lost Generation in Paris: Gertrude Stein, Orwell, Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald;
  • End your tour with a one-hour panoramic River Cruise on the Seine, with great views of the Louvre and Eiffel Tower.

This is a fascinating introduction and orientation tour of Paris. The Île de la Cité in the middle of the Seine is where the story of Paris, and the history of France truly begins. 

Begin the walking portion of your tour at the statue of Henry IV on the Pont Neuf - the oldest bridge in Paris, that crosses onto the  Île de la Cité and discover the history of the French Kings as you walk around their medieval castle, the Conciergerie - and learn how it became their brutal prison during the dark days of the Revolution. 

Learn all about the French Revolution and its most infamous execution machine, the Guillotine as you stand outside the gates of the Palais du Justice, the courts where all the trials took place. 

Admire the Gothic front of Notre Dame - and learn about its incredible 900-year history - as well as its survival during the fire of 2019, before walking off the island, into the Latin Quarter, an historical and vibrant area famed for its gothic churches, the Sorbonne university, and its fun nightlife, with a plethora of jazz bars and eateries.

Visit historical bookshops, once frequented by the likes of Hemingway and Orwell, and explore an area that is renowned for being the starting point of the May 68' Revolution as well as the home of French intellectual thought.

Next, take in the amazing sights of Paris on a return cruise down the River Seine. See the famous landmarks of Paris from the river like the Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum, and the Eiffel Tower to name just a few! Your one-hour cruise ends back at the Pont Neuf.

Important: This tour includes a 2-hour private guided walking tour followed by a 1-hour river cruise with onboard commentary on your own. Your tour guide will walk you to the cruise docking point where they will part ways with you. You can choose to take the cruise at the end of the tour or later during your stay.
Paris by Night: Private Walking Tour including Seine River Cruise

Experience the magic of the City of Lights with an evening walk through the most romantic areas of Paris: the medieval Île de la Cité and the Latin Quarter. Take a relaxing and scenic cruise ride along the River Seine with fabulous photo opportunities of famous Parisian landmarks including the Eiffel Tower lit up at night.

On your private tour you will:

  • Visit two of the city's most beautiful and romantic neighbourhoods;
  • Explore the famous sites on Île de la Cité where French history began;
  • See the Revolutionary Palais du Justice and the Conciergerie Palace former home of the French Kings; 
  • Hear about the terrifying trial and final days of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette;
  • Admire the magnificent Gothic facade of Notre Dame - still standing after the terrible fire of 2019;
  • Wander through the trendy Latin Quarter - made famous by the 'Lost Generation' of Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway;
  • Learn about the famous bookshop Shakespeare & Co
  • See the Sorbonne University and peer inside some of the oldest Gothic churches in Paris like Saint Severin;
  • End your guided tour back on Ile de La Cite, where your guide will give you your Seine Cruise tickets;
  • Travel down the Seine by river cruise
  • See the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, or choose any other time you like with your open tickets.


Enjoy a magical tour of central medieval Paris lit up at night! Begin by the statue of Good King Henry on the Pont Neuf and follow your expert private guide around the Île de la Cité.

This island, in the middle of the Seine, holds the founding history of Paris and France itself: it is where a Celtic tribe called the Parisi first settled, and later Clovis King of the Franks won after the fall of Rome. Learn the history of the French Kings and Queens as you gaze across to the Louvre Palace, beautifully lit at night, and walk through Place Dauphine.

Admire some Napoleonic decorations to the Palais du Justice, and hear about some of his greatest achievements, and epic losses. As you walk around this stunning beautifully lighted medieval castle, you'll learn that it was once the home of the French Kings - and later became their prison during the Revolution. Hear about the trials, both fair and foul, and decide for yourself if Marie Antoinette was as guilty as she is painted.

Admire the exquisite Gothic facade of Notre Dame - always stunningly lit up at night and hear of its extraordinary history -and survival.

Walk around the trendy, artsy and vibrant Latin Quarter - famous for its plethora of Gothic churches, the Sorbonne University - which gives it its name as Latin was the language of Academia in the middle ages! Pass by famous the Jazz clubs on Rue de la Huchette, and the bars and cafes and bookshops - like Shakespeare and Co - that were frequented by members of the Lost Generation like Hemingway, Orwell and Gertrude Stein.

Finally, return to the Pont Neuf where your guide will leave you to enjoy a romantic evening river cruise along the Seine. This is a wonderful way to see the great monuments of Paris lit up - including the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, and of course the piece de resistance: the Eiffel Tower!

Important: This tour includes a 2-hour private guided walking tour followed by a 1-hour river cruise with onboard commentary on your own. Your tour guide will walk you to the cruise docking point where they will part ways with you. You can choose to take the cruise at the end of the tour or later during your stay.
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