In Paris, people often talk about the “Left Bank” and the “Right Bank”. But is there any difference between living on the left or right bank?
Well, there are definitely differences between the two sides of the Seine and that’s what we are going to talk about today…
The Left Bank, called “La Rive Gauche” in French, is on the southern side of the Seine. It consists of six districts. It is smaller than the Right Bank and is historically known as the artistic part of the city. This is where many famous writers, artists and political exiles, once lived or worked. The list includes Picasso, Chagall, Modigliani, Matisse, William Faulkner, James Joyce, Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, André Gide, Jacques Prévert, Lenin, and Trotsky. Why did they choose the Left bank? Perhaps simply because it used to be much cheaper, which was an advantage for starving artists and political exiles. Those days are long gone, of course, and now the Left Bank is almost as expensive as the Right Bank.
The Left Bank is where you can find both the popular Montparnasse, in the 14th district, and Latin Quarter, in the 5th and 6th districts. Montparnasse, with its great cafés and bars, is still a good place for artists. The Latin Quarter, where the Sorbonne University is located, has long been associated with student life, and therefore with good inexpensive cafés and restaurants and night clubs.
On the whole, the left Bank, even if it is much more expensive than before, is still considered to be the artsy and budget-friendly side of the river.
What sort of places do you find on the Left bank? Here are some of them: the Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay, Paris Catacombs, Montparnasse Cemetery, Luxembourg Gardens, Les Invalides & Napoleon’s Tomb, Musée Rodin, Pantheon, Les Deux Magots café, and many other beautiful places…
The Right Bank, called “La Rive Droite” in French, is to the north of the river. It has traditionally been more expensive and has been considered upper class. There are 14 districts on the Right Bank, some of which are now relatively poor, but the old impression that the Right Bank is the richer part of the city persists.
The Right Bank is where you find the majority of Paris’ big businesses and banks, and the majority of the big tourist attractions. Here is a list of some of them: Champs-Elysees, Louvre Museum, Arc de Triomphe, Tuileries Gardens, Montmartre, Sacre Coeur Basilica, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Musée Picasso, Centre Pompidou, Moulin Rouge, Opera de Paris (Palais Garnier), the Marais neighbourhood, Place des Vosges, Canal Saint-Martin, and many other places.
And of course, there is the part of Paris which is neither Left Bank not Right Bank. I’m talking about the two little islands in the centre of Paris, l’Île Saint Louis and l’Île de la Cité, where my favourite place in the whole city is located: Notre Dame de Paris. This is where, many many years ago, the story of Paris started, but that, my friends, is another story…
And that brings us to the end of this left-vs-right review of Paris.
Have you ever been to Paris? If so, do you prefer the Left Bank or the Right Bank? What is your favourite place in Paris?
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