There are many things to do around Saint Michel fountain. The Saint Michel fountain is known for being located smack in the middle of student life in Paris, and visiting this area is definitely one of the main things to do in Paris. The atmosphere is really lively all year long. You will understand the real Parisian way of life from this square.
At first sight you will notice that the square itself is dedicated to the most famous bookshop for students in Paris: Gibert Jeunes. Consider this a main goal as one of the things to to around Saint Michel fountain.
Even when you are not a local student, you should have a look in it, because each building as its specialty. At number 5, you will find plenty of books about Paris and also original touristic guides.
And at the number 10, there is the international library, where there are books in many language. Also if you want to do your first step in French language, there are many books about how to learn it.
Also on the quai facing Notre Dame, Shakespeare Company is another magic shop, the frontage is like in the old times, as if the modernity spare this bookshop. This place is an institution for books lovers, shelves cover all walls to the ceiling. Specialised in British literature you will also find there second hand books, wide choice for every budget.
This area is really full of restaurants and nice bars. If you re a passionate football lover I personally recommend you two establishment: The Gentleman (Hautefeuille Street) and the Corcoran’s Irish club (Saint André-des-arts street). The pint is affordable, but be careful in the neighbourhood, the prices can get high.
The Gentleman bar close by Saint Michel fountain in Paris
Also this area is a link between several neighbourhoods, each with a strong identity. When you are facing the fountain, I don’t advice you to go on your left. Huchette street is only known for its cheap restaurants, with a menu in 5 languages, nothing traditional.
Huchette street known as a touristic trap in Paris
My personal tip for you is to meander in the Saint André des Arts street, going in direction of Saint Germain des Près area.
I love this street where there are no cars most of the time. In a little street named Cours du Commerce, you will discover the most ancient café of Paris: le Procope. Since 1689, the « Tout Paris » is going to this place to enjoy the traditional food in an historical establishment.
Le Procope café in cours of commerce in Paris
Also, this area is the mirror of the left bank identity. You will find one of the best music club of Paris: le Caveau des oubliettes (Galande street). Every night there is a jam session of Jazz, blues or even soul. Trust me, you will spend a great night here!
The Banks are also important around Sain Michel fountain. Most of them in this part of Paris are pedestrians. You will enjoy nice strolls along the river (cf article: how to enjoy the river), and during the warm days Parisians love organizing piques niques here.
Seine Banks in Paris