Away from the glitter of the City of Lights, the Left Bank of Paris is all about a state of mind. Dive into the Paris of struggling creative souls, broke students and tormented spirits. Walk on the traces of Dante Alighieri, Cyrano de Bergerac, Sartre and De Beauvoir. With the help of an insider, get off the beaten tracks and experience Left Bank “art de vivre”!
1.) Shakespeare and Company bookshop
The first stop on our Paris walking tour of the Left Bank is the bookshop Shakespeare and Company. Having hosted writers from the Lost Generation (Hemingway) and later from the Beat generation (Kerouac), it is a major spot for Parisian artistic and intellectual life. Closed down during WWII because its founder didn’t want to sell books to the Nazi occupiers, it was reopened after the liberation of Paris and it is today a haven for aspiring young writers. Our Discover Walks guides will truly get you to feel the spirit of the neighbourhood by telling you the secret side of the iconic bookshop.
2.) Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre and Rue Galande
The second stop on our Paris walking tour of the Left Bank is Saint-Julien-the-Poor church. The oldest church in Paris and a fine example of Romanesque architecture, Saint-Julien-the-Poor is where the University of Paris started. It hosted prestigious students such as Dante Alighieri or François Rabelais. Our Discover Walks guides will tell you the myth of Saint-Julien, a myth that conveys one of the messages of this tour: the importance of forgiveness and of being given a second chance in life. Walk in Rue Galande, a typical example of a medieval street and a part of Paris left untouched after the XIXth century renovations of Paris.
3.) Marché de Maubert-Mutualité
Our Paris walking tour of the Left Bank will also make you experience French “art de vivre” by taking you to an authentic open-air market. See the fromagerie, charcuterie, boucherie, boulangerie, poissonerie, wine “Cave” and hear the little secrets of the croissant and of “fromages français”. “Bon appétit bien sûr!”
4.) Le Panthéon
The next stop on our Walking tour of the Left Bank is the Panthéon. Commissioned by Louis XVth, the Panthéon was originally supposed to be a church. Today it is a secular mausoleum dedicated to the great French men (and women!). From writer Hugo to philosopher Rousseau, and from scientist Marie Curie to resistant Geneviève De Gaulle, pay tribute to those who made France the great nation it is today.
5.) Cyrano de Bergerac
Our walking tour of the Left Bank lives up to the reputation of Paris as a romantic city. Our guide will tell you one of the most tragic love stories ever written in French literature: the story of Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond de Rostan. Prepare your tissues because this might make you cry!
6.) Rue des Ecoles and la Sorbonne
The final stop on our Walking tour of the Left Bank is La Sorbonne, the cradle of the French university. An iconic institution, La Sorbonne was founded in 1253 by Robert de Sorbon and educated prestigious students, from Balzac to Sartre or Jackie Kennedy. It was also the heart of student strikes of May 1968. La Sorbonne thus carries complementary goals: academic excellency and freedom of thought, as well as the typically French love of riots!