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Left Bank or Right Bank: Which Parisian Are You?

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, Left or Right Bank

Left bank (Carin Olsson)

If you’ve ever dreamed of living in Paris, chances are you’ve thought about where. A funky Montmartre studio with a view? Perhaps a swank one-bedroom in the 6ème with herringbone floors and marble mantles sends your heart racing? Whether you’re more Marais hideaway or St Germain Haussmannian, it turns out that where you live in Paris says quite a lot about you.

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, Left or Right Bank

Left bank (Carin Olsson)

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, Left or Right Bank

Right bank (Carin Olsson)

Most Parisians are deeply devoted to their neighborhoods and can wax poetic on their unique charms. As to whether they prefer the Rive Gauche or Rive Droite, ask any Parisian and you’re sure to get an opinion. Having now lived on both sides of the Seine, I’ve got a few of my own. Here’s how to decode the meaning behind the coveted Parisian address.

HiP Paris Blog, Sara Berger, Left or Right Bank

Sara Berger

Left Bank Lovely. Feel like donning an Hermes carré and enjoying a taste of old school Paris? The grand cafés of St Germain des Pres await. Alas, de Beauvoir and Sartre have long since fled but the swooping waiters and retro vibe are still reminiscent of the Left Bank’s intellectual heyday.

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, Left or Right Bank

Left bank (Carin Olsson)

HiP Paris Blog, j.hietter, Left or Right Bank

Right bank (j.hietter)

HiP Paris Blog, faungg, Left or Right Bank

faungg

While literary Montparnasse is now a nostalgic figment, the Sorbonne still hums with a heady intellectualism and the Latin Quarter’s vintage bookshops cling resolutely to its smaller streets. Look past the glitz into the little streets behind the Pantheon to find a slice of ancient Paris just waiting to be rediscovered.

HiP Paris Blog, evelina ander, Left or Right Bank

Île Saint Louis (evelina ander)

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, FXTC, Left or Right Bank

Right bank (Carin OlssonFXTC)

And then there’s that garden. A visit to the Luxembourg Gardens in spring will make a Left Bank lover out of any diehard Right Banker. Kids still push wooden sailboats with sticks as lovers wander under its shaded canopy of elm trees. Every true Parisian loves the Luxembourg Gardens.

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, Left or Right Bank

Right bank (Carin Olsson)

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, Left or Right Bank

Left & right bank (Carin Olsson)

Food and Fashion. But if the Left Bank is lovely, the Right Bank has the buzz. From supperclubs and concept stores to art galleries and wine bars, if it’s new and happening, it’s probably on the Right Bank. The best young chefs have set up shop in the 10th and 11th and the cool kids while away the hours along the Canal Saint Martin. The bars around Bastille hum at all hours and the bustling marchés burst with life and color. Life’s a rich mosaic here and seems less hemmed in by the rules of Left Bank Paris.

HiP Paris Blog, Leo-TX, Left or Right Bank

View from the right bank (Leo-TX)

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, Left or Right Bank

Left & right bank (Carin Olsson)

As for me, I’ll always love the Right Bank and feel invigorated by its street art, surprises and small artisans who ply their craft in little kitchens and hidden ateliers. It’s where I first fell in love with Paris and for that, I will always remain true. A recent stroll down the rue Vieille du Temple was the perfect reminder: it’s artsy, historic and beautifully imperfect all at once.

HiP Paris Blog, Sara Berger, Left or Right Bank

Right bank (Sara Berger)

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, Left or Right Bank

Left bank (Carin Olsson)

And so that day, I crossed back over the Seine with a twinge of regret. Then the majestic lawns of Les Invalides – where my kids romp happily and we enjoy our summer picnics – spread out before me and I felt that bit of love for my own current slice of the city. So, Left Bank or Right Bank. Who says you can’t be both?

HiP Paris Blog, Sara Berger, Left or Right Bank

Sara Berger

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Written by Paige Bradley Frost for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

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Written by Paige Bradley Frost

Paige Bradley FrostPaige Bradley Frost, a Los Angeles native, moved back to Paris with her young family in 2011 after first living and getting married there in 2000. A lover of French style and cuisine, she spends her days scouting and writing about the city's gems when not chasing after her two young children. Her articles about parenting, culture and lifestyle have appeared on NYTimes.com, the Huffington Post and various other publications. She blogs about her Paris experiences at http://parisdejavu.blogspot.com.

Website: Paris Deja Vu

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Posted in Parisian Living | 23 Comments »

23 Responses to “Left Bank or Right Bank: Which Parisian Are You?”

  • Thanks soo much!! A lovely selection. Beautifully assembled!!

  • Carrie says:

    Ok, so I am so happy I googled “left bank or right bank?” I am traveling to europe for the first time in a few weeks, and I have DREAMT of Paris my entire life. Unfortunately (or fortunatly?), we are traveling to Europe with a focus on other areas, so I only get to experience Paris (this time) for two days. SOO…. I am trying to make my short stay as perfect as possible. All your comments and details have been so appreciated!

  • Lena says:

    I don’t think this divide is relevant anymore…the East/West divide is wayyy more to the point. This site has great graphics emphasizing it btw : http://dataparis.io/#

    So I’m much more into Eastern Paris :)

    As for the right/left banks, I like both but I’ll forever be faithful to the left bank, where I grew up (and not in the posh areas).

  • Jennifer says:

    I would live anywhere in Paris, it does not matter where, but the chance to live there at all, would be totally amazing. I meet Paris in Sept 2013, for the very first time. Love the place.

  • Les deux! I just stumbled upon your excellent post. Merci!

  • Anastasia says:

    My husband and I just returned home from holiday in Paris. We rented an apartment on the Right Bank near Rue Etienne Marcel but I didn’t fall in love with Paris until we explored the Left Bank. Most of the Right Bank was over crowded, especially where we stayed. We are narrowing down our list of where to spend next summer and if we decide on Paris it will be the Left Bank. “Live on the left, play on the right”

  • france.77 says:

    Rive Droite!
    The Palais Royal garden and the galleries there around are my favourite place… Every time I get in Paris, I like to visit it very early in the morning. It is a cozy and peaceful refuge that stimulates reflections.

  • Marina says:

    I can’t help it, I am in love with the left bank:)

  • Dedy says:

    Cafés, people, Parisian cultural life I am 100% left bank.

  • Paige says:

    I second the votes I see here for the “Haut Marais.” Love all those little streets, restos and shops. Then again, where I live in the 7e, I wake up to the sound of birdsong (yes, really) and see greenery beyond my windows. Lots to love on both sides of the Seine!

  • Ohlala Maman says:

    Ooh, great post – My first and true love is for the Left Bank, Montparnasse, Luxebourg, even Denfert Rochereau and the hospital where I had my baby. I love that there is so much Breton culture round Montparnasse. But yes the Right Bank is really where it’s happening, I go to Belleville and the 19th as much as possible and have always worked in the Marais.

  • Larry C. says:

    I stayed (rented and owned) and apartment in Saint Germain for 52 years! My quartier changed drastically during those years. It lost it’s charm. Now I am renting in Haut Marais. No rules! But! I am torn between the two. You are absolutely right on in your blog.

  • I’m in love with Canal Saint Martin, but I feel that the Latin Quarter is my home every time I visit Paris!

  • Vicki Archer says:

    I’d be happy on either bank, as long as I’m in Paris!…xv

  • Rita H. says:

    It all sounds like a dream from here…so if you don’t mind I’ll choose beautiful Santa Barbara-America’s Rivera.:) I love your blog too!

  • Louise says:

    I live by Montparnasse and love my area…tons of cinemas, great creperies and bars, and the Luxembourg Gardens are only a 10 minute walk away. I really like that there aren’t that many tourists in this area either.

  • I root for the Right Bank! I am in love with my neighbourhood of NoMa (North Marais / Haut-Marais), much more so than when I lived in the 15e on the Left Bank near the Tour Eiffel and Christian Constant’s restaurants! It’s a very cool neighbourhood with lots of great cafés and bars – and Canal St-Martin and Oberkampf are just a 7-min walk away. :)

  • susan says:

    Not sure I could ever choose…BOTH!

  • Tiffany Lui says:

    Great post! I’d live anywhere if I could live in Paris..but my preference is pretty obvious from my blog name :D

  • Evelina says:

    Oh, how happy I am to see you use my flickr image here! Thank you!

  • Jean says:

    Or you can choose the islands in between!

  • Danielle says:

    *Droite (clearly my Francophile nature has made me fluent in French)

  • Danielle says:

    As of now, I’m Right Bank all the way. I have classes by Champs-de-Mars, and my best friend lives in Saint-Germain, which I do think it’s a wonderful area… but I don’t know that I’d be able to tear myself away from Rive Droit. I serendipitously ended up on this side for a reason, I like to think ;).

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