There was a time when Rive Droite and Rive Gauche signified more than just the geographical divide of Paris into the right and left bank, but the City of Lights has outgrown many of its stubborn stereotypes. The Right Bank (north of the Seine) was historically the realm of aristocratic mansions and luxury shopping; today its houses artist ateliers and vibrant multicultural communities.
Across the river, upscale fashion boutiques, avant-garde restaurants, and some of the most expensive real estate in Paris have transformed the Left Bank’s clichéd image as a scruffy bohemian bastion of students and struggling writers. Today Paris is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own particular atmosphere and style.
When asked where you live in Paris, generally you would reply with an arrondissement number, rather than the actual name of the neighborhood. Essentially, the 20 arrondisements of Paris are the different districts of the city separated by numbers. The 1st arrondisement is located in the the center of the city and the district numbers spiral out in a clockwise pattern, stretching all the way to the north-east side of Paris. Each arrondisement has its own colorful flavor with unique cafes, quiet streets to stroll down, and parks to picnic in.
So if a friend asks you where you live in Paris (and let’s just say you live in Le Quartier Latin), you would kindly reply, “I live in the 5th arrondisement… and it’s fabulous.”