Hidden in the Quartier Latin, this is a beautiful and truly surprising place to enjoy some first days of sun. Did you know Paris has a Roman arena?
The arena is one of the very few places in Paris where I am reminded that Paris once was called Lutetia, or Lutèce in French. (The only other one is the Cluny medieval museum, located not far from here.) The amphitheater dates from the first century, when it was designed to host over 15,000 spectators that would come to see fights between humans and animals, and humans against each other.
It is a shame that the arena is no longer used for more modern forms of entertainment nowadays. Instead of gladiators the arena is now the stage of Frenchmen playing pétanque or boys practicing football. And unlike its rather violent original purpose, I find this place particularly peaceful. Isolated from street noise and surrounded by trees, the Lutetian arena is a little urban refuge for those who discover its entrance just behind a hidden metro entrance.
Oh, and should you want to go for a picnic: there is a canteen run by a very kind Lebanese just in front of the entrance on rue Monge!