Wandering the Left Bank

Rue de Villersexel

Boulevard Saint-Germain

Rue de Solférino

Rue de l'Universite

Hotel Lenox

Rue Allent

Somewhere in Paris

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.

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June 12, 2014 / art / photo / Travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 25

25 comments

  • I’d say Rive Gauche but then no Marais so a roughy. Why do people have to choose though??
    Well done on the word count, you’re totally right, it’s a lots less intimidating to edit and amend than to look at all those blank pages x

    • Haha I don’t think you necessarily have to choose! I sure as hell couldn’t. Every time I think I’ve made a decision, something about the other side of the river calls to me and I’m back at square one. Oy.
      Thanks for the encouragement, my lovely. xo

  • congratulation on your milestone!!!

    thank you again, for taking my breath away, with your photos…

    gentle hugs,
    tessa~

    • Merci beaucoup, Tessa!! xoxo

  • well i am all of the first of your choices: democrat, introvert, morning person, cheese lover . . ., but for this i think i would likely be a rive gauche, though i can’t say with certainty. i am really just basing my assumptions on the less tourists thing. someday i will let you know.

    70k. that is so amazing! you should be excited about such a milestone. every milestone, from the idea, to the first word, to the 70th word, to the first draft, to the first editing. it’s all very exciting and each milestone is really just going to get more exciting, because you are getting closer and closer! xo

    • Haha, samesies! I realized that after I listed the choices, I was sensing a pattern with my phrasing :) You have to come to Paris and confirm your suspicions and report back to me, oui? Oui.

      Thank you so, so much for your endless encouragement and positivity! It means so much, you can’t even know. xo

  • Haha I agree with Annie – why choose when you have the best of both worlds?! :-)

    • Yeah girl! I think that’s a way better option. :) xo

  • 70,000 words IS a BFD. A big bfd. And, I’m proud of you for every word.
    Having only stayed on Saint-Germain, I’m not qualified to “pick a side” so I’ll leave that up to you.

    • Haha a DOUBLE bfd, nice! And I had no idea our first trip to Paris was also your first trip to Paris. For some reason I guess I assumed you’d been there before? Maybe because you got us the swankiest hotel in the hippest neighborhood :) xo

      • That’s how I roll………..

  • CONGRATULATIONS!! And your comment about cheese made me spit out my water – I couldn’t focus on anything after that

    • Hahahah happy to be of service :) But seriously, when writing it, I couldn’t think of an alternative to not liking cheese. Wrong wrong wrong. xo

  • Tu as tellement raison Erin! Pourquoi choisir quand on peut avoir tout Paris? Rive Droite ou Rive Gauche? Je prends les deux, il y a toujours des choses belles à voir ! Eclair chocolat ou éclair au café? je prends le deux selon les circonstances! Pourquoi choisir quand on peut avoir le meilleur de chaque côté?!
    70 k?! Bon boulot! ;)

    • Oui! Je veux avoir tout Paris, et tout Paris je vais avoir :) C’est mon nouvelle “motto” haha. Ça marche pour les eclairs, aussi! Et les macarons, bien sûr! xoxo

  • I don’t think I could trust someone who doesn’t like cheese—it’s just a non-negotiable.

    Granted, I’ve never been to Paris (note to self: need to make that happen soon), so I’ll go off of what my grandparents have always said: “Paris is a tourist mecca, but to see how the locals really live and experience the city to the fullest one must travel beyond the banks of the Seine River.” I don’t think they could pick a side either.

    Congratulations to meeting 70k!

    • Right? I feel like that really ought to a more important deciding factor in how we judge people, don’t you? Don’t like cheese?

      Girl, we need to get you to Paris. It’s for your own good! Your grandparents are wise, wise folks. The good stuff, le vrai Paris, is in the tiny pockets of town off the beaten path. I’m having a lot of fun exploring. xo

  • ha, as I told you, I’m definitely a right-bank person, even though I of course love all parts of Paris. I met a friend at Vavin just before leaving, and yes, I can see the appeal of the south :) congratulations re: 70k. you rock!!

    • Yes, you are definitely a righty :) I like a girl who knows what she likes, though! I’m too wishy-washy to decide. It’s like picking whether Paris is more beautiful during the day or at night. Or in the rain or sun. Paris is just the best, in any condition or locale, haha. xo

  • This is so right ! Parisians have always a favorite between the Rive Gauche and the Rive Droite ! Students are “fighting” about this (not badly of course this is more an active debat). Even when they are friends, if one is living on the Rive Gauche, he is gonna defend his bank ! And the same for the contrary ! This is quiet funny to see something because when you’re not from Paris, they always try to make you choose one side !
    Actually, Paris is such a lovely city that I cannot take side between this two Banks !
    I’m totally agree with you, it’s impossible to choose ! (c’est impossible de choisir) !

    Feel free to visit my blog ;-)
    http://electricblooming.blogspot.com/

    • Ah, merci! Mon français n’est pas parfait, vous voyez. Je vais le réparer!
      I think I need to give up on picking a side and just enjoy ALL parts of it like I’ve been doing. Too limiting to just pick half! :) xoxo

  • I’m still so impressed that you’re writing a novel.

    I’ve been drawing the food I’m eating…does that count? I’m filling PAGES, dude.

    • Duderino, creativity is creativity. It doesn’t matter what you’re making as long as you’re making. You heard it here first! xo

  • Congratulations on 70k! And you’re killing me with all these photos… really feeding my wanderlust… he’s a hungry bear.

    • Haha, thank you Marine!! That’s so sweet. And sorry to that bear of yours! But maybe he’s on to something. Get on a plane! :) xo