La Rive 01 Header
Elena Dijour / Shutterstock.com
Elena Dijour / Shutterstock.com

Bohemian charm in Paris

La Rive Gauche

The Bohemian spirit of Paris

The left bank of the Seine reveals the most avant-garde side of the French capital. Although Matisse and Hemingway no longer roam La Rive Gauche, its artistic spirit lives on.

Allons-y!

Timeless charm

Of course the most famous landmark on the left bank is the Eiffel Tower. But the biggest attraction of this part of the city is less tangible. For many residents and visitors, La Rive Gauche is synonymous with a time at the beginning of the 20th century when world-famous writers, painters, poets and other artistic eccentrics packed the streets and cafés south of the river. While the other side of the Seine has embraced modernity, the left bank has been able to hang on to some of its Bohemian charm. Experience it for yourself on a stroll along these 6 highlights of Rive Gauche.

La Rive 02 Map Eng
La Rive 02 Cafe De Flore 01
Angelita Niedziejko

Artistic coffee

Le Café de Flore

Those who love to start the day with a good cup of coffee may wish to visit Le Café de Flore. In business since 1880, the café is named after a statue of the Roman goddess Flora that used to be on the other side of the boulevard. It made a name for itself as the literary café where Pablo Picasso and the power couple of philosophy, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, regularly met to raise a glass. 

La Rive 02 Cafe De Flore 02
Glenn Harper / Alamy Stock Photo

The patio is still a great spot for celebrity spotting. The opulent art deco interior with red velvet, mahogany and mirrored glass has hardly changed since its opening. 

La Rive 03 Boulevard Bg

Colourful stuffed animals

Boulevard Saint-Germain

But not everything on the left bank has been frozen in time: take for example the Boulevard Saint-Germain, the busy main street where Café de Flore is located. This is the most famous shopping street of Rive Gauche, lined with modern luxury boutiques ranging from Sonia Rykiel to Yves Saint Laurent. Fortunately the neighbourhood has preserved many of its unique local shops.

Only a stone’s throw from the boulevard you will find Deyrolle: 400 square metres of floor space packed with stuffed animals. The quirky collection includes everything from hummingbirds and polar bears to rhinoceros beetles and ring-tailed lemurs. The classically decorated rooms are packed from floor to ceiling with magnificent specimens. It is a sight to behold.

La Rive 03 Boulevard Bg Desk
La Rive 03 Boulevard 01
Nadiia_foto / Shutterstock.com
La Rive 03 Boulevard 02
Marc Dantan

Colourful stuffed animals

Boulevard Saint-Germain

But not everything on the left bank has been frozen in time: take for example the Boulevard Saint-Germain, the busy main street where Café de Flore is located. This is the most famous shopping street of Rive Gauche, lined with modern luxury boutiques ranging from Sonia Rykiel to Yves Saint Laurent. Fortunately the neighbourhood has preserved many of its unique local shops. 

Only a stone’s throw from the boulevard you will find Deyrolle: 400 square metres of floor space packed with stuffed animals. The quirky collection includes everything from hummingbirds and polar bears to rhinoceros beetles and ring-tailed lemurs. The classically decorated rooms are packed from floor to ceiling with magnificent specimens. It is a sight to behold.

La Rive 03 Boulevard 03
Parisian Days
La Rive 04 Bibliotheque Bg
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Special library

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève

During its glory days Rive Gauche was not just a magnet for artistic types. The students of La Sorbonne university also left an important (and intellectual) mark on the neighbourhood. As early as the 14th century young achievers from around the country have been flocking to the left bank.

La Rive 04 Bibliotheque Bg Desk
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Special library

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève

During its glory days Rive Gauche was not just a magnet for artistic types. The students of La Sorbonne university also left an important (and intellectual) mark on the neighbourhood. As early as the 14th century young achievers from around the country have been flocking to the left bank. 

La Rive 04 Bibliotheque 01
gary yim / Shutterstock.com
La Rive 04 Bibliotheque 02
Bildarchiv Monheim GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

The streets around the university became known as the Quartier Latin, the famous student district of Paris. This is where the fuse of the powder keg was lit during the notorious student protests of 1968. Be sure to peek inside the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, which has been honing brilliant minds for more than 70 years. Even if you don’t read a word of French, the glorious book-lined interior speaks volumes. 

La Rive 04 Bibliotheque Bg 1

The green heart of Paris

Jardin du Luxembourg

Jardin du Luxembourg is an oasis to escape the bustle of the city. Once designed as the private gardens of the even more impressive and monumental Palais du Luxembourg, the gardens have been open to the public since the 19th century. During the week, the park is a sought-after spot for Sorbonne students. On weekends, sports fans, couples in love and families come here to relax and enjoy the fresh air. 

La Rive 04 Bibliotheque 01 1
La Rive 04 Bibliotheque 02 1
Premier Photo / Shutterstock.com

Take a stroll in ‘le Luco’ to admire the park’s 106 statues. Until a few years ago there was even a Statue of Liberty that served as the scale model for its big sister in New York. However, after multiple acts of vandalism the statue has been moved to the Musée d’Orsay, our next stop.

La Rive 05 Musee Bg Top
La Rive 05 Musee 01
nikolpetr / Shutterstock.com
La Rive 05 Musee 02
Gimas / Shutterstock.com

World-renowned artists

Musée d’Orsay

The right bank may have the Louvre, but the left bank has the Musée d’Orsay. Van Gogh, Gauguin, Renoir, Degas, Mondriaan, Munch, Monet, Manet… The walls are adorned with the most outstanding works of art history. An even bigger draw may be the museum itself: magnificently housed under the glass domes of a former railway station. It takes quite the building to compete with the magnificent sculptures of Auguste Rodin, creator of ‘The Thinker’.

La Rive 05 Musee 03
nikolpetr / Shutterstock.com

Looking for more art or prefer a more modestly sized museum? France’s most famous sculptor has his own museum just a few blocks south, the Musée Rodin, housed in the hotel that for many years served as his home.

La Rive 05 Musee Bg Bottom
photo.ua / Shutterstock.com


Culinary delights

Hotel Relais Saint Germain

Starting to feel a bit peckish? Continue on to the Hotel Relais Saint Germain for a culinary conclusion to our discovery tour of Rive Gauche. The hidden bistro – Le Comptoir – isn’t known for its trendy decor or spacious interior. But what it lacks in style and size is more than compensated by the food. Chef Yves Camdeborde serves seemingly simple but delectable bistro classics, such as asparagus with ham, shrimp bisque and grilled salmon sandwiches.

La Rive 06 Saint Germain 01

Chef Yves Camdeborde serves seemingly simple but delectable bistro classics

La Rive 06 Saint Germain 02
La Rive 06 Saint Germain 03
La Rive 06 Saint Germain 04

The lunch specials are on a first-come, first-served basis and even the notoriously picky Parisians will line up for hours on weekends. Tables for the more elegant dinner menu are booked months ahead of time. Not able to snag a reservation? Then make your way to the bar to sample the excellent wines and delicious finger foods.

KLM

iFly Magazine

Paris

Turn up the volume for the
best experience