Populated by students, artists and art dealers, who frequent beautiful cafés, corner shops and enticing restaurants, the Left Bank of Paris has a locals feel to it, rather than just a place where tourists go. Two Left Bank districts of Paris in particular the Latin Quarter and St-Germain stand out as must-see districts to explore.
The Latin Quarter: Paris
Although popular with many tourists, part of the beauty of the Latin Quarter and St-Germain is that they are busy, without leaving you feeling as if you are in a tourist trap. Every street down which you turn holds something of interest to the inquisitive tourist; a bar frequented by Picasso, or the crypt of a famous philosopher such as Descartes. It is a place where rubbing shoulders with history and experiencing all the romance of the Parisian way of life is unavoidable.
Whats more all the sights everyone visiting Paris wants to see the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower in particular are all within easy walking distance.
The Latin Quarter: Paris Where to Eat
With a number of Universities located nearby, among them the prestigious Sorbonne, the Latin Quarter is a popular student spot. There are a number of sights worth checking out in this area too though, among them the Pantheon and the Museum of Natural History. But perhaps the real draw of this district is in the varied assortment of restaurants and the lively night time feel, all of which is served up with a local authenticity sadly lacking from the more crowded Parisian tourist spots.
While the narrow streets of the Latin Quarter close to Notre Dame are unashamedly targeting tourists - with plate-smashing-on-the-street Greek restaurants and a plentiful supply of English menus flashed before your eyes at every turn - the deeper into the Latin Quarter you travel, the more authentic the experience.
That said however, close to Notre Dame is a bookshop that does no pandering to tourists and is a place any aspiring intellectual or would-be member of the literati should visit Shakespeare & Co. Opened by George Whitman in August 1951, the bookshop is a Left Bank institution that has encouraged many a young writer since opening. People such as Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell and Alan Ginsberg have all stayed at the bookshop at one point or another.
The Latin Quarter: Paris City Guide Without the Tourists
But a particularly good street to explore if you are looking for an inexpensive meal away from the tourist throng, yet still want to feel as though you are somewhere with a buzz, is Rue Mouffetard, south of the Pantheon. This narrow street, day or night, is always a lively spot and is dotted with restaurants serving all sorts of different foods Moroccan, Spanish, Greek, Argentinean, Tibetan, and, of course, French all to varying degrees of expense and quality.
There are some expensive restaurants to be found in the Latin Quarter, but there are also plenty of places to eat cheaply, too, with numerous shop front stalls selling delicious crepes and a number of cheap-and-cheerful bars catering to the student crowds.
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