Dominated by the Montparnasse Tower, which stands 210 metres high, the district is full of chic spots and all sorts of cultural activities.
Montparnasse got its name during the 17th century. Expelled by Queen Margot from their neighbourhood Le Pré-aux-Clercs, students named this area, which was wooded at the time, after Mount Parnassus, the sacred home of Apollo and his muses. It became their favourite place for reciting poetry. During the French Revolution, cafés and cabarets began to spring up on the outskirts of Paris. Around 1900, avant-garde artists, poets and writers set up shop on the left bank of the river, in particular in Montparnasse where writer Alfred Jarry and artist Henri Rousseau were already living Soon followed the likes of Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Paul Fort, Modigliani, Soutine, Chagall, Léger, Hemingway, Stravinsky, Satie, Picasso, Picabia, Kisling, Rilke, Mayakovsky, Tzara, Man Ray, Duchamp, Cocteau, Aragon, Triolet, plus many others. Hotel Istria welcomed many of these artists, including the star couple Elsa Triolet and Louis Aragon. Leaving the hotel, admire the adjoining building at 31bis. This wonder of Art Deco was created by architect André Arfvidson and is one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Paris.
Close to the hotel, you’ll find Montparnasse Tower (which offers a grandiose view over Paris from its roof terrace), the Jardin Atlantique, Montparnasse Station and the shopping centre across from it, the Musée Bourdelle for lovers of sculpture, Place de Catalogne designed by Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill and Rue de la Gaieté with its cabarets and theatres. And of course, there’s the famous Montparnasse Cemetery. Spread over 20 hectares, it is home to the graves of Sartre, Beauvoir, Baudelaire, Maupassant, Beckett, Ionesco, Soutine, Tzara and Bartholdi.