Some Parisians and travelers favor the Right Bank (including the Marais) or the Left Bank in Paris, but I can’t choose one over the other. Historically, the Right Bank has been considered more affluent, orderly, and calm compared to the lively, artistic atmosphere of the Left Bank. The contrast isn’t so obvious in modern Paris; both banks have beautiful architecture, delicious crepes, and plenty to see. Today, I’m taking you through the 5th, 6th, and 7th – the heart of the Left Bank (Rive Gauche).
The Latin Quarter is home to the Sorbonne University and a handful of other schools, so its charming streets are often busy with students. At the same time, it’s full of wonderful, affordable shops and cafes – walk down medieval Rue Mouffetard to find some of the best.
Along the river you’ll see more tourists than students, but it’s still lovely to stop at Shakespeare & Company next to Square René Viviani and follow the merchant-lined Quai de la Tournelle along the Seine. Close to the river, yet further from crowds, the Jardin des Plantes is a botanic garden that’s perfect for a quiet stroll when the flowers are in bloom.
I can’t seem to get enough of this beautiful neighborhood (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C), but if I had to choose one street to walk here, it would be Rue Bonaparte. As you make your way from the river to the Jardin du Luxembourg you’ll pass Buly 1803, the cutest Ladurée, Les Deux Magots, and plenty of other classic Parisian shops and restaurants. It’s worth the slight detour to see the picturesque Place de Furstenberg.
People-watching at Jardin du Luxembourg is a must, but make a point to visit the west side of the park, where there’s a pair of small, quiet gardens. There are plenty of open chairs and benches here, and you might also spot a few people doing tai chi and balletic calisthenics in the shade. Across the street lies the charming Rue Servandoni.
Cour du Commerce Saint-Andre is a tiny pedestrian road that runs behind Le Procope, known as the oldest cafe in Paris. The Cour de Rohan also tucked in here – if you’re lucky enough to find the gate open, take a quick walk through this hidden courtyard.
While things are always busy around the Eiffel Tower, the rest of this arrondissement is mostly quiet. Starting near the Musée d’Orsay, following Rue de Grenelle will take you through the heart of the neighborhood, past the Rodin Museum and Les Invalides.
The market street Rue Cler is home to cafés, greengrocers, bakeries, flower shops and more. It’s the perfect place to meet a friend for a café crème and shop together for a picnic on the Champ de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower. Plan your visit around the busy Sunday mornings here – go early, or try for a different day.
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