Ask any Parisian whether they prefer Rive Droite or Rive Gauche and you're sure to get an earful. While each side of the Seine has its unique charms, taking a stroll around neighborhoods on both can impart a deeper knowledge of the city's history as a whole. On this Paris sightseeing experience, in the company of a local scholar, we will get an insider orientation tour of each bank's origins, note significant architectural landmarks, and weave together relevant highlights from the city's inception to its present day as a modern capital.
Marvel at the Rive Gauche
We will begin our orientation to the City of Light on the Rive Gauche
, Paris' Left Bank. Its weaving cobblestone lanes, medieval churches, and Bohemian connections give the Left Bank its lingering flair. Once the city's religious center, the Left Bank plays host to a number of churches—notably Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, Saint-Séverin
, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. We'll use these churches as vehicles to introduce the Left Bank's religious identity, before it transitioned into the lively student-centric neighborhood which gave it its alias: The Latin Quarter. The 12th century brought the intellectuals to the Left Bank, and they took up residence here, arguably, until the 1960s. Known for academia, and later as a playground for the Lost Generation
and the existentially inclined, this side of the Seine remains steeped in its former intellectual sparkle. Here, we even may note the juxtaposition between the modern decadence of Saint-Germain in contrast with its humble origins. Weaving through the tangle of back streets, we may pass the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Pantheon, or a few of the cafés immortalized in 20th century literature.
Paris Sightseeing on the Rive Droite
Crossing the Pont des Arts, we'll immediately note the grand architectural planning that characterizes the Right Bank. Marked by direct influence of centuries of French leaders, and Baron Haussmann
's 19th century urban planning, Paris' Right Bank, Rive Droite, en français
, is now known as the city's more hip, international side. The grand columns and ornate decorations that characterize the architecture of Louvre once symbolized the presence of the French kings in the capital city. We'll briefly discuss its evolving nature as we cross the bridge, and head to the orderly courtyard of the Palais Royal. Entering this manicured Parisian park, we'll discuss an overview of the city's evolution from the Middle Ages to the events of the 1789 French Revolution
, some of which are tied to this seemingly innocuous haven from the pulse of the streets beyond. Exiting the graceful, treelined park, we'll head towards Les Halles. Once a bustling—and notorious— covered market, this area still carries traces of its former identity in its specialty shops. While this area of the city was redeveloped in the 1960s, Les Halles remains a hub of activity. As we stroll the neighborhoods around this part of the city, we may glimpse the striking modern design of the Centre Pompidou
or Église Saint Eustache.
Take Aways from our Orientation Tour
As we return to the banks of the Seine, we'll find ourselves in Place du Châtelet, a central square which has evolved into a variety of incarnations over time, yet remains an important focal point on the right bank. Here, we will discuss the differences and similarities between both sides of the Seine, and how these separate halves bring different aspects of this dynamic city together as a whole.
First-time visitors may also find useful our practical orientation to the city, Welcome To Paris
, during which we answer questions about navigating the city's transport system, point out the best and most typical local establishments, and offer a basic language lesson, among other things.
I note you also have separate private 2-hour orientation tours to both the Right and Left banks. How does this tour differ?
This tour is essentially a combination of the two. We find it's nice to offer our clients the option of breaking it up over two days, or all at once!
When would you recommend we schedule this orientation walk? We find this seminar is best scheduled at the beginning of your stay so that we can acquaint you with and provide a solid foundation for further explorations of Paris.
Is this tour walking-intensive and/or wheelchair accessible?
The route may include small hills, narrow sidewalks and cobblestoned streets. Please contact us to discuss in more detail your mobility so that we can best advise. You might also look at our Paris by Riverboat
tour, a private orientation that is done partially seated and can be made wheelchair-accessible.
What if it’s raining? Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your docent will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors. It never hurts to have an umbrella on hand.
Is this tour good for kids?
Yes! We have some excellent family-friendly docents who can appeal to the learning styles of children. Please book privately if you have children under 13. Feel free to provide us with information about your children such as favorite school subjects, and hobbies. This way we can match you with the best possible docent. Please note that as this walk tour does not fall within our official family program
, there will not be special family activities. Also note our separate 2-hour Right
bank orientation walks which may be a more digestible duration for children.
Can I do a full-day tour? It's certainly possible to arrange a full-day orientation tour, privately. Please contact us for options and pricing.
Are entrance tickets included? There may be nominal entrance fees at various points on the tour; these are not included in the cost of the tour. It is a good idea to have small coins on hand for these.