South of the river, the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) has long maintained an “alternative” identity, opposed to the formal ambience of the Right Bank. Generally understood to describe the 5e and 6e arrondissements, the Left Bank was at the heart of les évènements, the revolutionary political “events” of May 1968. Since that infamous summer, however, gentrification has transformed the artists’ garrets and beatnik cafés into designer pads and top-end restaurants, and the legend is only really kept alive by the student population of the Quartier Latin – so-called for the learned Latin of the medieval scholars who first settled here, or possibly for the abundant Roman ruins. It is in fact one of the city’s more palpably ancient districts.

The pivotal point is place St-Michel, where the tree-lined boulevard St-Michel begins. It’s a busy commercial thoroughfare these days, but the universities on all sides still give an intellectual air to the place, and the cafés and shops are still jammed with young people. Meanwhile, on the riverbank you’ll find old books, postcards and prints on sale from the bouquinistes, whose green boxes line the parapets of the riverside quais. It’s a pleasant walk upstream to Pont de Sully, which leads across to the Île St-Louis and offers a dramatic view of Notre-Dame.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Paris features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Cabaret is alive and kicking in Paris

Cabaret is alive and kicking in Paris

Forget about the sleazy tourist traps in Pigalle, there's only one place to see burlesque in Paris: the Crazy Horse, opened in 1951. Eleanor Aldridge spent the …

25 Jul 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge local_activity Special feature
Why you should go back to Paris in 2017

Why you should go back to Paris in 2017

There’s nowhere else quite like Paris. No other city can match the allure of its rooftop vistas, café-lined boulevards and striking monuments. Paris’s abil…

11 May 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month