Right bank vs Left bank: choose your favorite Paris!
There is an old competition between Parisians of the Left Bank and those of the Right Bank. We are used to criticizing the bank on which we do not live, as if it was a way to specify our Parisian identity… Dress-code, jokes, house parties, food, hobbies or art galleries are definitely not the same either you’re on the Right Bank or on the Left Bank of Paris. Read on and discover the Right Bank and the Left Bank and choose your favorite Paris!
I know a few right bankers who never set a foot on the Left Bank! I personally live on the Left Bank in a very tiny flat of Saint Germain-des-Prés, next to my high-school. However, I spend most of my free time on the Right Bank. Let me tell you why!
What used to be the difference between the Right Bank and the Left Bank?
The busy Paris of power on the right bank: Place de l’Etoile
The contrast between the two banks used to be easier to sum up fifty years ago. Historically, the Right Bank is the bank of power (the French president lives on the Champs Elysées), the bank of luxury (Place Vendôme and Rue de la Paix), and of business (the covered market of Les Halles, the surroundings of the Garnier Opera House), whereas the Left Bank is the bank of students, of intellectuals (La Sorbonne, le Panthéon, Saint Germain des Prés during the times of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir), and of artists (Montparnasse at the beginning of the twentieth century).
Latin Quarter, on the Left Bank of Paris
What about nowadays?
And what about the differences today? In my opinion, some things of this cliché is still true. The right-bankers introduce themselves as more trendy and sophisticated than the “spiritual” people of the Left Bank. Considering my habits, I must say that I like to go to the Garden of Luxembourg to read the second-hand books I have found in small libraries of the Latin Quarter, and I am not fond of the big and flashy shops of the Haussmann avenues. I enjoy having philosophical discussions with my friends of the prestigious Lycée Henri IV on the Contrescarpe Square, in the Mouffetard street, and I can say that I do not like the crowd on the Champs Elysées so much.
But can we really say that the Left Bank has more soul than the Right Bank? I don’t think so. The economical differences between the Left Bank and the Right Bank are more and more difficult to simplify. The real-estate is higher in the west of Paris, and it makes no difference between the left and the right bank. As a young person, you can not have fun in Saint Germain des Prés, and you have to go near Bastille, Châtelet or Oberkampf areas to find the cheapest and more lively bars. We used to consider the Left Bank as the place of political contests, but now the more mobilized Parisians live in the north-east of Paris.
Place de la Bastille on the Right Bank: a place of popular demonstrations
Place de la Bastille on the Right Bank at night
With this in mind, my advice would be: go to the Left Bank if you want to keep up the melancholy of the times when intellectual people were the most popular ones, but do not stay for too long as you might miss a chance to spend more time on the Right Bank in order to see the living Paris of today!
You now know a few things about the Right Bank and the Left Bank of Paris. To choose your favorite Paris, you actually need to experience it. Roam aimlessly on both banks, talk to the locals, go inside the places, explore and discover as many aspects of banks as possible. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and that it was helpful to you! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further information. See you soon in Paris!
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