Tranquilly cradled at the heart of Paris, St-Germain-des-Prés remains eternally magnetic for the visitor and resident alike. Modern incursions are rare and the atmosphere still has something of the Paris of history, literature, and cinema. The pace seems more leisurely than on the other side of the river, cafés still play their traditional role, and backstreet bistros whisk diners back half a century or so. Aproned waiters and waitresses scold as they are reputed to, and the residents still include a fair share of eccentrics and/or intelligentsia.
Origins Symbol of its genesis, the Eglise St-Germain-des-Prés dates frmthe late 10th centurt, when it was part of a Benedictine monastery which replaced a 6th century abbey. By the 14th century it was surrounded by a fortified wall, which disappeared with the Age of Enlightenment to make way for housing and the new nobles of the Faubourg St-Germain to the west. Badly damaged during the Revolution, only one of its original three towers remains, but the massive flying buttresses of the choir, among the oldest in France, remain intact. As usual, the 19th century brought much retouching and both the nave and the choir contain murals by Flandrin from that period.