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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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Written by Paige Bradley Frost for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long or short term, or buy in France? 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? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.