There are many great identifying debates in this world where people take a hard line; you’re either a Democrat or a Republican, a morning person or a night owl, an introvert or an extrovert, love cheese or you’re wrong. Chief amongst these choices is the wholly Parisian struggle of Right Bank (Rive Droite) or Left Bank (Rive Gauche). With the Seine river dissecting the city almost evenly into two parts, Parisians are firmly in one camp or the other (or so I’m lead to believe. This has not been confirmed because I’m too afraid to conduct a random survey of Parisians). The Right Bank, which was historically the wealthier side of the city, has the Louvre, the Champs-Élysées, the Jardin des Tuileries, the Arc de Triopmphe, Montmartre (eventually, once it was incorporated), and Canal Saint-Martin. The Left Bank, which was the haunt of many a literary hero (Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Joyce and Sartre) has the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, Saint-Germain and hundreds of little galleries, the Jardin du Luxembourg, and the Musée Rodin. It’s an age-old question to which there is seemingly no right answer. Take a side (bank), and you’re giving up a ton of amazing arrondissements and sites. I’m staying in Montmartre again this trip, and I think I’m mostly a Right Bank girl. Except for the Eiffel Tower. And the Rodin gardens. And the Orsay. And Saint-Germain. Oh god, don’t make me pick sides! C’est impossible a choisir!
Recently, I’ve been spending a ton of time on la Rive Gauche. Specifically, the pocket of the city right behind the Musée d’Orsay and west down toward Saint-Germain that hugs the quai along the Sein. It isn’t quite the neighborhood of Saint-Germain, as it’s still the 7eme arrondissement. I love it there. It’s quiet, leafy, and the architecture blends beautifully from the grand Haussmannian buildings to the crooked streets and artsy shops off Rue de l’Université. It’s magic back there, and always under-populated with tourists, who prefer the main drag of Boulevard Saint-Germain a little farther south. These are just a few photos.
Other Paris Details of Note: Yesterday I hit a big milestone: 70k words. In a moment of exhaustion and self-doubt, I thought, “What if counting quantity is perhaps not the best indicator of legitimate progress?” But then I remembered that no book is ever written in the first draft, and I have to have something down on the page to work with. And besides, if numbers and milestones weren’t important or a decent way to track progress, marathon runners could say, “You know, I don’t need to run all 26 miles. I ran my best for the first five. I’m done now.” People like quantifiable victories. This is a huge one for me.