Montparnasse and Saint-Germain

Artistic Montparnasse and Intellectual Saint-Germain

At the beginning of the 20th century a new subway line had moved numerous painters, sculptores and representatives of literary Bohemia to the Montparnasse area. Thus, during the period between the two World Wars, known as Crazy years, the crossroads Vavin turned out to be an epicenter of the artistic life in Paris, an incredible site of fun, drinking but also place of hot discussions and exchanging of creative ideas. Vavin crossroads was named the Hub of the Universe. Around Vavin on both side of the boulevard Montparnasse were thriving legendary cafés - Rotonde, Dome, Selecte, Coupole. Here gathered future celebrities: artistes- Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse, Leger, Soutine, Chagall, Foudjita, Dali, Rodchenko; writers – Jean Cocteau, Jacob, Apollinaire, Hemingway, Maïakovski ; sculptors – Bourdelle, Maillol, Zadkine. Trotski and Lénine were also seen among its regulars. Numerous American and British expats, mostly writers, were often seen in bars and cafés in adjacent streets of Boulevard Montparnasse: Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, John Dos Passos, Ezra Pound, Henri Miller, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald….

All these young and creative people made an artistic bohemia of Paris in 1920s and 1930s. They lived on Montparnasse and worked in its workshops, cafés and bars.

After the WWII the center of Intellectual and artistic life had moved to Saint-Germain, district centered on cafés Flore and Deux Magots near the church Saint-Germain -des-Pres. These cafés became place of meeting and discussions of existentialists and surrealists among the others. Nowadays it is a district of art galleries, antic shops and expensive fashion boutiques as well as an area of trendy restaurants and cafés. One of them is the notorious Prokop, first Parisian café ever. One can meet lots of French or World’s celebrities in Saint-Germain de Paris.

What to see at this walking tour?


  • Boulevard Montparnasse, the famous crossroads Vavin (Picasso Square), Museum of sculptor Zadkine), Luxembourg Gardens, Church Saint-Sulpice, Boulevard Saint-Germain;
  • Church Saint-Germain-des-Prés, cafés Flore and Deux Magots, Brasserie Lipp - a famous get-together of writers and artists after the World War II;
  • Art galleries, antique shops, chocolate shops, school of fine arts.

Price and timing

The walk lasts 3 hours+
Price - 50 Euros per hour for the group