The Latin Quarter of Paris is an area in the 5th and the 6th arrondissements of Paris. It is situated on the left bank of the Seine, around the Sorbonne. Known for its student life, lively atmosphere, and bistros, the Latin Quarter is the home to a number of higher education establishments besides the Sorbonne university itself.
In spite of its adaptation and the loss of its former identity, the many streets in Latin Quarter surrounding what was the student and intellectual center continues to attract tourists and Parisians.
The area gets its name from the Latin language, which was widely spoken in and around the University during the Middle Ages, after the twelfth century philosopher Pierre Abélard and his students took up residence there. The church St Nicolas du Chardonnet, located here, still performs the traditional Latin mass untill today (read also the article ‘Paris, at St Nicolas du Chardonnet’ in this blogspot).
Students still frequent the area, although not speaking Latin. The world famous university of Sorbonne enrolls about 24,000 students in 20 departments specializing in arts, humanities and languages, divided in 12 campuses in Paris. Seven of the campuses are situated in the Latin Quarter, including the historic Sorbonne university building and three in the Marais, Malesherbes and Clignancourt. Paris-Sorbonne also houses France's prestigious communication and journalism school, CELSA, located in the Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine.
The history of Latin Quarter paralysed by demonstration is now half a century old. May 1968 is still regarded as the biggest upheaval to have hit modern French society, and it has forever recast the tree-lined boulevards of Paris’s fifth arrondissement as the embodiment of France’s famous spirit of rebellion.
The volatile period of civil unrest in France during May 1968 was punctuated by demonstrations and massive general strikes as well as the occupation of universities and factories across France. At the height of its fervor, it brought the entire economy of France to a virtual halt.
The unrest began with a series of student occupation protests against capitalism, consumerism, American imperialism and traditional institutions, values and order. The protests spurred an artistic movement, with songs, imaginative graffiti, posters, and slogans.
The well known philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre roused students, nurses, doctors and teachers into a frenzy of protest from his crudely constructed pulpit under the oak trees of the Boulevard Saint Jacques, demonstrators lobbed cobblestones over barricades by the elegant arches of the Sorbonne, and the noise of rioting echoed through the Pantheon.