The Seine separates Paris into two halves: to the north is the Right Bank, and to the south is the Left Bank. Also known as the Rive Gauche, the Left Bank is home to some of the city’s top landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower. Thanks to its universities and famous former residents, the Rive Gauche retains a romantic, literary reputation.
From world-famous monuments to world-renowned universities, the Left Bank encompasses a variety of neighborhoods, communities, and Parisian attractions. Among its highlights are the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, Invalides, the Jardin du Luxembourg, and the Catacombs of Paris, though that represents just a fraction of what the area offers. Broadly, the Left Bank is renowned for its intellectual and cultural aplomb. The Sorbonne and Shakespeare & Co are two legendary institutions in the vibrant Latin Quarter, and the area was once popular with writers and artists ranging from Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso to Jean-Paul Sartre.
Depending on your interests, there are dozens of ways to discover the Left Bank and its sights. Hop-on hop-off busses, Segways, and bike tours all offer overviews of the area, while private driving tours let you customize your itinerary. Alternatively, soak up the Rive Gauche’s je ne sais quoi ambience on a walking tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- While the Left Bank contains only six arrondissements (compared to the Right Bank’s 14), its status as a cultural heavyweight makes it just as important and diverse.
- If you haven’t pre-booked Eiffel Tower entry, venture instead to the Tour Montparnasse, which offers impeccable views of the Left Bank and beyond.
- Visit the iconic Café de Flore to people watch—and to see the spot where Pablo Picasso and Simone de Beauvoir spent their time.
How to Get There
The Rive Gauche is home to several major stations (including the Gare d’Austerlitz and Gare Montparnasse), which are served by the TGV, RER, and numerous Métro and train lines. Dozens of other Métro stations and bus lines traverse the area. Paris is also a city that rewards walkers and cyclists, and the Left Bank is no exception.
When to Get There
Paris is picturesque in all seasons, and there’s never a bad time to visit the Left Bank (although, like the rest of the French capital, it’s quietest in August). During the warmer months, linger in the Jardin du Luxembourg, stroll the Jardin des Plantes, or enjoy Eiffel Tower views from the Champ de Mars. When the thermostat drops, explore museums like the Musée d’Orsay, Musée de Cluny, or the Musée de l’Armée at Invalides.
Famous Left Bank Eateries
It isn’t a Left Bank tour without a bite (or several) to eat. Venture to the iconic Poîlane bakery for fresh bread; browse the lively street market on the Rue Mouffetard; sample macarons at Pierre Hermé; and go to a classic restaurant, like La Closerie des Lilas, for dinner.