Presiding over the bustling Place Saint-Michel, the Fontaine Saint-Michel is a popular meeting point close to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Street performers gather here on weekend evenings, adding to the social feel of the spot, and adjacent cafes offer a comfortable perch for watching the crowd. A prime location near top sites in Paris means that the Fontaine Saint-Michel is an included stop on many walking tours and sightseeing tours of the city.
Things to know before you go
- The Fontaine-Saint Michel is south-facing, so visit in the morning to catch the best light for photography.
- Keep an eye on your belongings while at the Fontaine Saint-Michel; as with other crowded tourist sites, pickpockets can be an issue here.
- Second Empire symbolism has made the fountain a target of political protesters, and extensive repairs took place after mobs attacked it in 1871.
How to get there
Located on Boulevard Saint-Michel, the Fontaine Saint-Michel is easily accessible by metro, RER, bus, and taxi. The closest train stop is Saint-Michel Notre Dame, which is served by metro line #4 and RER lines B and C. Multiple bus lines stop at the adjacent Saint-Michel Saint-Germain bus stop, including #21, #27, #38, #85, #96, #N12, #N13, #N14, #N21, and #N122.
When to get there
While photographers should come during the sunny morning hours, the Fontaine Saint-Michel is also very attractive at night, when the fountains are illuminated and the plaza attracts street artists. If you’re hoping to combine a trip to the Fontaine Saint-Michel with visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral, keep in mind that the cathedral closes at 6:45 on weekdays and 7:15 on weekends.
Exploring the *Quartier Latin* (Latin Quarter)
Visiting the Fontaine Saint-Michel is a great starting point for a trip into the Quartier Latin, a neighborhood named for the language that was once used at the nearby Sorbonne University. The area is rich with literary history, cafes, and beautiful churches. There’s a lot to see here, so consider a walking tour to soak up the buzzy atmosphere at a leisurely pace.
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- Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin)
- Sainte Chapelle
- Caveau de la Huchette
- Shakespeare and Company Bookstore
- Palais de Justice
- Archaeological Crypt of Notre Dame
- Cluny Museum (Musée de Cluny)
- Place Dauphine
- Île de la Cité
- Notre-Dame Cathedral Towers (Tours de la Cathédrale Notre-Dame)
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Pont Neuf
- Gérard Mulot Pâtisserie