Since the Middle Age, this riverside quarter has been dominated by the Sorbonne and acquired its name from the early latin-speaking students. It dates back to the Roman town across the Ile de la Cité. In 1215 the Pope approved the establishment of a university on the left bank of the Seine in Paris. Students and teachers alike settled in the area and since Latin was the official language of education at that time, the area came to be called the Latin Quarter.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés is located around the church of the former Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The area is generally associated with artists, intellectual and a bohemian way of life; this is mainly due to the thousands of students living around.
However, the place has also a history of political unrest : In 1871, the Place Saint Michel became the center of the Paris Commune, and in may 1968, it was a site of student uprising.
Today the eastern half has become sufficiently chic, however, to house members of the French Establishment.
The place contains many of the Paris monuments, museums and gardens, ranging from the brand-new Institut du Monde Arabe to the Middle Age Musée de Cluny, or the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in the Jardin des Plantes.