Rive Gauche: A History


Rive Gauche: The Left Bank

Rive Gauche or Rive Droite? That always seems to be the big question. Paris is a city that seems to have two personalities, the Left Bank and the Right Bank. And when asked if the two sides have a noticeable difference, I've learned that the answer is yes. To an outsider, you may not notice right away, but after time, the differences can be seen. And everyone has a preference. For me, it's Rive Gauche. So here is a little history on the Rive Gauche.

Place de la Sorbonne

Famous Dwellers

The Rive Gauche was affluent at a point, home to many artists, writers, and playwrights. People like Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and F. Scott Fitzgerald used to frequent this area, many choosing the St. Germain neighborhood. This area was the intellectual center of France with its close proximity to the Sorbonne.

Bohemian and Counterculture

Due to the amount of creativity centered in the area, a sense of Bohemianism came about. Many of the artists were free spirits themselves, adding to the belief of Paris of being one with Bohemian culture. But looking today, wandering the narrow streets, filled with unique shops, you can still catch glimpses of that culture. Along with Bohemianism, Counterculture was also popular at the turn of the 20th Century, but not the same counterculture movement that took place in America in the 1970s. No, this counterculture involved surrealism.

The Eiffel Tower

Famous Neighborhoods

While the Rive Gauche was once a popular area, with a very busy nightlife and constantly being influenced by great thinkers and artists, today it is known for being a quieter neighborhood that doesn't mind to stop and smell the roses. While you'll find the suit-wearing business men on the Right Bank, the Left Bank is home to many boutiques and cafes. The Quartier Latin is home to some great food and students while St. Germain is home to many cafes. And the 7th Arrondissement is famous for the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides. Clearly the Right Bank still got it.

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