Since the XIIth century St Germain des Pres has been dominated by the Sorbonne University, and acquired its name from the early latin-speaking students. In the XIIIth century the Pope approved the establishment of a university on the left bank of the Seine. 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.
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.
But the place also has 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.