The Left Bank Paris contains many hidden gems. There’s sightseeing, great shopping, restaurants, and plenty of lesser known historical attractions. The Left Bank is where many of the world’s most prominent artists lived during Paris’ golden age of art during the 1920s and 30s. People like Picasso, Hemingway, and Oscar Wilde all called Left Bank Paris home. The Latin Quarter, Saint Germain-des-Pres, and the Eiffel Tower are also all within Left Bank Paris. And, while the Right Bank has seemingly never ending openings of trendy shops and restaurants, the Left Bank is home to a bunch of secret gems that shouldn’t be overlooked. This article will introduce you to amazing boutiques like Art Dandy, the colorful neighborhood of Butte aux Cailles, and some of the best, most secluded bars on the Left Bank.
What is the Left Bank Paris?
Location and history
Left bank Paris is historically known as the heart of artistic and literary life in Paris. Any fan of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris will be familiar with the cast of intellectuals and creatives who all lived and worked in Left Bank Paris. The Left Bank, or ‘rîve gauche’ in French, refers to the southern half of the city below the Seine. It contains the traditionally working class neighborhood of Montparnasse and the trendy Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement. On Left Bank Paris, you’ll also find the stunning Musée d’Orsay and the opulent surrounding apartments that were once (and still are) the homes of the Parisian elite. There’s so much to discover on the Left Bank Paris!
What the Left Bank Paris is known for
Some of the most well known landmarks on the left bank include the Eiffel Tower, Pantheon, the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens, and Montparnasse Tower. Besides its iconic historical sites, the Left Bank is also known as the more traditional half of Paris. Comparatively, the Right Bank has more of Paris’ trendy neighborhoods where young and working class people live, work and play. The Left Bank is where you’ll discover the most historic areas of Paris as well as elevated shopping and dining. Subsequently, Left Bank Paris is more popular with tourists for sightseeing the right bank is more visited for its shopping and dining scene. The hidden gems we’ve uncovered below will make the case why you don’t need to go across the Seine to enjoy sightseeing, shopping, and dining!
Left Bank Paris: Shopping
There are so many cool stores to choose from on Left Bank Paris. Arty Dandy is a concept store that sells everything from trendy clothes and accessories to perfumes, cool gadgets and housewares. 95% of the products carried by Arty Dandy are European brands like shoes from Bons Baisers de Paname (which means good kisses from Paris!), the historical LIP watches, and cute and very useful rainy day accessories from Sweden and G.Kero!
Many of the brands can’t be found anywhere else in Paris and Arty Dandy updates their stocks weekly so there’s always cool new items to discover. On top of that, locals love the friendly atmosphere of the store and are often assisted by the store owner himself who is at the shop on most opening days. There’s no better local Parisian shopping experience than at Arty Dandy.
Available exclusively through the new INSIDR Passport, receive an organic artisanal soap or a bar of French chocolate for free when you purchase anything at an Arty Dandy store. And for purchases amounting to at least 200€, you’ll get a free custom gift box with your name or the gift receiver’s name engraved on a gold plate and an organic scented candle from Papillon Rouge. Click the link to get your Arty Dandy shopping vouchers included in our INSIDR Passport.
This boutique is truly one of our favorite places for souvenirs and gifts and not just on the Left Bank but in all of Paris! In fact, Arty Dandy has two locations, one on both sides of the Seine.
- Address on the Left Bank: 1 Rue de Furstenberg, 75006
- Address on the Right Bank: 46 Rue de Turenne, 75003
- Schedules: 11am – 7pm Monday-Friday, 10:30am–7:30pm Saturdays, and 1pm – 7pm Sundays
- Arty Dandy official website
Sennelier is an art supplies store which has been open since 1887. Unsurprisingly, the store is pretty incredible. With a front row view of the Seine, Sennelier offers oil paints, watercolors, and acrylics all made in house in original colors. Their staff are famous for their all white uniforms and are super happy to answer any questions you have and help you get started, or finished, on your next art project.
- Address: 3 Quai Voltaire, 75007 Paris
- Schedule: 10:00am-12:45pm; 2:00pm-6:30pm Mondays to Saturdays
Taschen is a name you’ve probably heard before. This famous publishing company operates a charming book store on the Left Bank Paris that offers a wide selection of books. They have books on pretty much any topic you could imagine like photography, pop culture, style, travel, architecture, fashion, design, cinema, and music. Their books are a little on the expensive side, but the quality is worth it. Taschen is the best place if you’re looking for a limited edition volume or a cool new coffee table book for your home.
- Address: 2 rue de Buci, 75006 Paris
- Schedule: 11am-8pm daily
Deyrolle is a 200-year-old taxidermy shop that doubles as an art gallery. The shop is a sight to behold with dozens of taxidermy animals on display from tigers to ostrich. Currently, Deyrolle is hosting “Wild Materials”, an exhibition at the intersection of nature, art, and education. Deyrolle also carries a curated selection of goods like exclusive perfumes and books inspired by the natural world.
- Address: 46 Rue du Bac, 75007
- Schedule: 10am-7pm Monday-Saturday
- Deyrolle official website
Left Bank Paris: Sightseeing
Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain
The Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, often referred to as the Fondation Cartier, is a modern art museum situated in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. The museum contains work by contemporary, international artists totalling more than 1500 works by over 350 artists. The Jean Nouvel-designed building is a sight to behold by itself. The museum is an amazing example of modern architecture with a beautiful interior concept garden where you can lounge before or after you visit the collections.
- Address: 261 Boulevard Raspail, 75014 Paris
- Schedule: 11am-8pm Wednesday to Monday
- Tickets: from 7-11€
- Official website
Butte aux Cailles
Butte aux Cailles is known as Paris’ most colorful neighborhood. The buildings and streets are reminiscent of Montmartre and is a true hidden gem on the Left Bank. It’s one of the few places in Paris that was untouched during the Haussmann renovations of the 1830s. Just a few blocks away from the bustling Chinatown, this quiet neighborhood is the perfect place to take a relaxing afternoon stroll in the sunshine. Rue Butte aux Cailles features great street art and a series of charming terrasses where you can grab a quick coffee or apéro and do some people watching.
Cour Vitrée at the École des Beaux-arts Paris
Cour Vitrée is a hidden gem on the Left Bank Paris. Situated inside the École des Beaux-arts Paris, this covered palatial courtyard is a beautiful example of neoclassical architecture. Walk along the marble flooring and take in the series of hellenistic sculptures that line the walls. The École des Beaux-Arts is the school where French artists have been trained and practiced their skills since the 18th century. The Cour Vitrée has served as a meeting ground for Paris’ best artists for the last two centuries.
- Address: 14 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris
- Schedule: weekdays between 10am and 7pm excluding holidays.
Another must-see on the left bank Paris is Montparnasse Cemetery. This beautiful cemetery is the resting place of iconic French figures like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Serge Gainsbourg. Unlike cemetery Père Lachaise, Montparnasse Cemetery is often nearly empty of visitors. Cast in the shadow of the Montparnasse Tower, the cemetery is a quiet relaxing place to take a walk next to the dead. We promise it’s not as scary as it sounds!
- Address: 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet
- Schedule: Open daily from 8am – 6pm
The Golden Triangle for art lovers
The Golden Triangle is the best spot on left bank Paris for art lovers. Rue Saint André des Arts, Rue de Seine and Rue Mazarine create a triangle where the best galleries and design stores of Paris are all located within walking distance of one another. Galerie Kamel Mennour, Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois are just some of the top galleries located within The Golden Triangle on Left Bank Paris. If you’re lucky, you can check out Parcours Saint Germain, an annual event that brings artists, galleries and art lovers together for a themed art festival. Visit their official website to get all the details!
Left Bank Paris: Food and Beverage
The Left Bank Paris is also where you can discover some of the best food in the city. Gerard Mulot is a bakery, chocolatier, and pastry shop all rolled into one charming store. This is a great place to grab lunch (they also do delicious sandwiches on homemade pain de campagne) while you wander around the Left Bank Paris. Grab a selection of pastries or sorbet and have a picnic in the nearby Jardins du Luxembourg.
- Address: 76 rue de Seine, 75006 Paris
- Schedule: 10am-7:30pm, Tuesday to Sunday
Le Bar at L’Hôtel Hôtel
When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, grab a drink and a seat at Le Bar at L’Hôtel. This hotel doesn’t have a distinct sign so only a select set know about its existence. This is probably why the 5-star hotel is so popular among A-list celebrities. Everyone from Johnny Depp to Tilda Swinton have been guests here. You can even order the drink that Swinton herself concocted at Le Bar and see if you can spot any celebrities on the stunning, enclosed terrace.
- Address: 13 Rue des Beaux Arts, 75006 Paris
- Schedule: 7pm – 1am daily
- L’Hôtel Paris official website
The bar at Hôtel de L’Abbaye
This is another secret gem on the Left Bank Paris. This exclusive bar inside Hotel De L’Abbaye is a favorite spot of French actresses and politicians to conduct meetings due to its quiet atmosphere and relative obscurity. The bar also features a beautiful terrace where you can enjoy an apéro en plein air.
- Address: 10 Rue Cassette, 75006 Paris
- Schedule: 12pm-10pm daily
Marché du Boulevard Raspail
If you’re an early riser on weekends, head to Marché du Boulevard Raspail, an open air market where you can sample your way through French fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and cured meats. The market is also known locally as Marché Biologique Raspail as it is the largest market in Paris that offers organic or ‘bio’ produce. Coming here would be a great way to spend a sunny morning and the perfect place to grab all your picnic essentials. There are tons of other great markets in Paris that you can see on the INSIDR guide to the best outdoor food markets in Paris.
- Address: Boulevard Raspail, 75006 (near Rennes metro station)
- Schedule: 9am – 3pm on Sundays
Le Salon du Panthéon
This small, charming bistro is located above a vintage, independent movie theater. It’s the perfect spot on the Left Bank Paris for afternoon tea or a casual lunch. They specialize in traditional French food and have a great pastry dessert menu as well. Trivia: the interior of the restaurant was designed by by French Actress Catherine Deneuve.
- Address: 13 Rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris
- Schedule: 12pm – 6:45pm Mondays to Fridays