Paris is bisected by the Seine which divides the city into Rive Gauche (“Left Bank”) and Rive Droite (Right Bank). The Left Bank is known as a more bohemian, intellectual district and has been home to some of the greatest writers and artists of all time. Picasso, Matisse, Sarte, Hemmingway, Fitzgerald; many of them found inspiration within the cozy confines of cafes and studios within the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter). Today, the area remains the epicenter of Paris’s arts and cultural scene with musicians, artists and book-sellers situated along the banks of the Seine or in the many squares further into the heart of the district.
Many of France’s (and the world’s) greatest intellects have come to the Latin Quarter to study at the Sorbonne, France’s most prestigious and best-known university. The term Latin Quarter originated from the fact that classes at the university were taught in Latin during the Middle Ages.
For those not studying at the Sorbonne or whiling away their time in the area’s cafes and bistros, many can be found enjoying themselves in the peaceful Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens), one of the largest parks in central Paris with the regal Luxembourg Palace, home of the French Senate as its cornerstone. Popular pastimes include relaxing around the Bassin (Pool), relaxing in the shade beside the famous Fontaine Medicis (Medici Fountain) or playing petanque, the French equivalent of bocci (I’m going to get in trouble for saying that!)
Other popular features of the Left Bank include the Pantheon, final resting place for many of France’s most famous citizens, including the likes of Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie and Louise Braille, as well as the icon of Paris, the Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower).