Parisian Living

Left Bank or Right Bank: Which Parisian Are You?

by Paige Bradley Frost

Here at HiP Paris we’ve been bringing you fabulous content since 2008! We’ve decided to take a peek through the archives and revisit some of our most loved articles. We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as we did! This article was originally published on May 14, 2013. Let us know which side of Paris is your favorite!

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.

Right: 2 people chat in a terrace of a classic Parisian building with gray zinc roof while the Sacre Coeur basilica is seen in the background. Right: A couple and an old man are sitting outdoors a peach Parisian restaurant decorated with multi-colored flowers.
Top: La Maison Rose, Montmartre (Right Bank) by @dathhh / Strolling by the Seine (Right Bank) by @garyphr / Above: Montmartre (Right Bank) by @dathhh / Café Fleur (Left Bank) by @unealternateaparis

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.

Right: Parisians are dining at an outdoor terrace between two green trees. Right: A couple are riding in a bicycle as they pass through a street with a pink cherry blossom tree.
Rue Paul-Albert, Montmartre (Right Bank) by @lesjoliesrues / Quai de Bourbon on l’île Saint-Louis (Right Bank) by @photosbylinda

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.

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.

Left: Parisians enjoy happy hour at a bistrot with beige parasols. Right: A rustic bookstore with beige walls and a black chandelier.
Chez Ginette (Right Bank) by @unealternateaparis / Shakespeare and Company (Left Bank) by @ryangeorgenyc

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.

Left: An old church with greek-fashioned beige pillars. Right: Parisians are sitting in gray chairs in a park surrounded by trees with brown leaves.
Notre-Dame de Lorette (Right Bank) & Jardin du Luxembourg (Left Bank) by @dathhh

Food and Fashion

But if the Left Bank is lovely, the Right Bank has the buzz. From supper clubs 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.

Right: A couple are sitting in a green bench overlooking the Seine. Right: Parisians in a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
Place Louis Aragon on l’île Saint-Louis (Right Bank) by @photosbylinda / The terrace at Galeries Lafayette (Right Bank) by @gjinpervathi

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.

Right: A Parisian bistrot with green walls and decor and beige basket chairs. Left: A quiet Parisian street with white buildings and a green tree.
Café Au Petit Fer à Cheval on Rue Vieille du Temple (Right Bank) by @emilytaubert / Rue de l’Hôtel Colbert (Left Bank) by @william_visi0n

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?

Right: Parisians enjoying the sunset in an outdoor bistrot with a green tree. Left: A couple and their picnic set up with white sheets by the Seine.
Place des Abbesses (Right Bank) by @erika.kostialova / Picnic by the Seine by @annemaudette

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Written by Paige Bradley Frost for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person (when possible)? Check out new marketplace shop and experiences.

Written By

Paige Bradley Frost

Paige Bradley Frost lived in Paris for nearly a decade and was a regular contributor to HiP Paris. In 2016, she swapped the Banks of the Seine for the beaches of San Diego, California where she now serves as Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, Women's Empowerment International. Still, her heart remains with the French capital where she hopes to one day return. View Paige Bradley Frost's Website

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