Saint-Germain-des-Prés is one of the four administrative quarters of the 6th arrondissement of Paris, located around the church of the former Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Its official borders are the River Seine on the north, the rue des Saints-Pères on the west, between the rue de Seine and rue Mazarine on the east, the rue du Four on the south. Residents of the quarter are known as Germanopratins; the quarter has several famous cafés, including Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore, le Procope, the Brasserie Lipp, many bookstores and publishing houses. In the 1940s and 1950s, it was the centre of the existentialist movement, it is home to the École des Beaux-Arts, a school of fine arts, the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, the Musée national Eugène Delacroix, in the former apartment and studio of painter Eugène Delacroix. Until the 17th century the land where the quarter is located was prone to flooding from the Seine, little building took place there; the Benedictine abbey in the center of the quarter was founded in the 6th century by the son of Clovis I, Childebert I.

In 542, while making war in Spain, Childebert raised his siege of Zaragoza when he heard that the inhabitants had placed themselves under the protection of the martyr Saint Vincent. In gratitude the bishop of Zaragoza presented him with the saint's stole; when Childebert returned to Paris, he caused a church to be erected to house the relic, dedicated to the Holy Cross and Saint Vincent, placed where he could see it across the fields from the royal palace on the Île de la Cité. In 558, St. Vincent's church was dedicated by Germain, Bishop of Paris on 23 December. Close by the church a monastery was erected; the Abbey church became the burial place of the dynasty of Merovingian Kings. Its abbots had both temporal jurisdiction over the residents of Saint-Germain. Since the monastery had a rich treasury and was outside the city walls, it was plundered and set on fire by the Normans in the ninth century, it was rebuilt in 1014 and rededicated in 1163 by Pope Alexander III to Bishop Germain, canonized.

The church and buildings of the Abbey were rebuilt in stone c. 1000 AD, the Abbey developed into a major center of scholarship and learning. A village grew up around the Abbey; the modern rue du Four is the site of the old ovens of the monastery, the dining hall was located along the modern rue de l'Abbaye. A parish church, the church of Saint-Pierre was built on the left bank, at the site of the present Ukrainian catholic church; the fortifications of King Philip Augustus, the first built around the entire city, left Saint‑Germain‑des‑Prés just outside the walls. Beginning in the Middle Ages, Saint‑Germain‑des‑Prés was not only a religious and cultural center, but an important marketplace, thanks to its annual fair, which attracted merchants and vendors from all over Europe; the Foire Saint-Germain was famous in 1176, when it allocated half of its profits to the King. The fair opened fifteen days after Easter, lasted for three weeks; the dates and the sites varied over the years. Beginning in 1486, it was held in a portion of the gardens of the Hôtel de Navarre, close to the modern rue Mabillon.

There were three hundred forty stalls at the fair of 1483. The fair was famous for the gambling and the riots that ensued when groups of rowdy students from the nearby university invaded the fair; the buildings burned on the night of 17–18 March 1762, but were rebuilt. The fair continued annually until the Revolution in 1789. At the end of the 16th century, Margaret of Valois the estranged wife of King Henry IV of France but still Queen of France, decided to build a residence in the quarter, in lands belonging to the Abbey near the Seine just west of the modern rue de Seine, near the present Institut de France, she built a palace with extensive gardens and established herself as a patroness of literature and the arts, until her death in 1615. In 1673 the most famous theatrical troupe in the city, the Comédie-Française, was expelled from its building on rue Saint‑Honoré and moved to left bank, to the passage de Pont-Neuf, just outside the Saint‑Germain quarter, its presence displeased the authorities of the neighboring Collége des Quatres-Nations and in 1689 they moved again, this time to the rue des Fossés des Saint‑Germain‑des‑Prés, where they remained until 1770.

The poor condition of the theater roof forced them to move in that year to the right bank, to the Hall of machines of the Tuileries Palace, much too large for them. In 1797 they moved back to the modern Odéon Theatre; the first café in Paris appeared in 1672 at the Saint-Germain Fair, served by an Armenian named Pascal. When the fair ended he opened a more permanent establishment on the quai de l'Ecole, where he served coffee for two sous and six deniers per cup, it was considered more of a form of medication than a beverage to be enjoyed, it had a limited clientele. He left for London, another Armenian named Maliban opened a new café on the

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