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The fifth and sixth arrondissement on the Left Bank of the Seine River in central Paris, are collectively known as the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter). However, it's been a long time since many have spoken Latin there. Among Paris's oldest districts they include some Roman attractions.
The Roman town Lutetia was built in the First Century BC. Its arena once held at least fifteen thousand spectators and considerably fewer gladiators. This city was sacked in barbarian invasions of the year 280. The arena was more or less forgotten until the 1860s with the construction of a streetcar depot on the site. The famous Nineteenth Century writer Victor Hugo played a major role in preserving these ruins.
The Jardin des Plantes is France's main botanical garden. It includes an aquarium, a small zoo, and some exquisite landscapes. The National Museum of Natural History was founded during the French Revolution. A major scientific research center, its staff included the Physics Nobel Prize winner, Henri Becquerel, who discovered uranium's radioactivity. The Musee de Cluny is perhaps the most outstanding medieval building in Paris. The Thermes de Cluny are what remains of Third Century Gallo-Roman baths.
The Pantheon, originally a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, sits on top of Montagne Sainte-Genevieve and overlooks all Paris. Among the great buried here are Braille, Dumas, Hugo, Marat, Curie,Voltaire, and Zola.
The Latin Quarter hosts numerous universities and other centers of higher education, and naturally scads of bars, bistros, restaurants, and nightclubs. Some schools have relocated to more spacious quarters in other parts of the city or region, surely to the regret of their student population. The l'Academie Francaise (the French Academy) remains.
On the Boulevard Saint-Germain you'll find the Cafe de Flore and Les Deux Magots, once intellectual centers. Alas, these cafes are too expensive for all but the wealthiest intellectuals.
The French Senate is the upper house of the French Parliament. It sits in the beautiful Luxemburg Palace in back of the Luxemburg Gardens, the largest garden in the city. The garden is open to the public and is a favorite of young children and their parents.
The Parisian Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge over the Seine River. It crosses the western end of the Ile de la Cite linking Paris's Left and Right Banks. Statue lovers should see the bronze bust of Henri IV, destroyed during the French Revolution but subsequently rebuilt using bronze from statues of Napoleon.
Built between 1646 and 1732, Saint-Sulpice is the Paris's largest church after Notre Dame de Paris. Some say that its two towers are mismatched; why not see for yourself? Saint-Sulpice has a huge sundial that helped to determine Easter's calendar date. This scientific instrument may well have saved the church from destruction during the French Revolution. Saint-Sulpice is a featured location in the novel The Da Vinci Code, but the scenes weren't actually filmed there.