A Day on the Left Bank

Paris, France

9 places

Elisa Dudnikova

Every Parisian has an immediate answer to the question of which bank of the Seine is better, the left or the right one. Each one has their personal favourite, without exceptions, and even though both sides of the river are just beautiful, the two parties will never come to an agreement. Take a walk around the left one and decide which team are you in – the Left Bank or the Right Bank!


Right by Le Bon Marché two gurus of the Paris coffee revolution have opened Coutume. This spacious well-lit place reminds of Tel Aviv and Brooklyn at the same time – ragged walls, wooden floors and white tiles – everything calling for coffee. And their coffee is great. Local hipsters flood the place for breakfast, some even cross the town to begin their day with coffee, granola or banana pancakes. By lunch all tables are taken by fashionistas, local girls instagramming their salads and cappuccinos and stylish business-women talking serious stuff. The best visiting time is a week-end brunch (from 11 to 3 for 25-30€) – it will give you the energy for the rest of the day – to walk around and to go crazy at night.


The most unique taxidermy shop in the world and a must-see in Paris. In 2007 a terrible fire devastated most of the collection, and it was about to close when prince Louis Albert de Broglie, Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, Damien Hirst and others helped save Deyrolle. Inside you will see multicolored birds hanging from the ceiling, pinned butterflies on the shelves, and visitors examining masterfully stuffed zebras, rabbits, deers, wild hogs, bears and even a giraffe. You can buy them, too – a bear or a lion will cost you arount 10,000 euros, but you will probably end up buying a replica of an old anatomic poster, a beautiful book or some cute garden appliances for your granny.

Loulou Friendly Diner

Loulou is located in the most touristy part of Quartier Latin, where every house is home to a cafe or two, however, they are all tourist traps. Loulou is an exception and escape. While its exterior of a friendly diner is nothing special, it is just a disguise – otherwise it would be packed. Firstly, their waiters seem to be the best in town, very friendly and always ready for a chat, unless the place is full. Then, they have the most delicious burgers and bagels being cooked all day long – the thing appreciated by locals and tourists. Come in the morning when the place is half-empty to get a great coffee and breakfast, by noon there will be a crowd. Once you eat here, you will have an urge to come back again and again. They have vegetarian options – salads, vegetable bagels as well as yummy smoothies. Pancakes, meat and fish – everything is perfect. If it is warm, pick a veranda seat (a small tip for busy folks – the plug for your laptop is under the sofa at the left-most table near the façade). An ideal working space: the sun lit veranda, great food and coffee, free wi-fi and no hints that you should leave. As for dinners – at night, there are many tables so no need to book one. Loulou is great for any occasion, but avoid lunch time during the weekends, otherwise you will spend thirty minutes in a line.


The heart of Paris glamour can be found on Saint-Germain boulevard. A small, but beautiful boutique Diptyque has been selling the best candles, aromatic soap and perfume of the capical for more than half a century. True "objects of desire" are white candles with fragrance of a campfire or cinnamon, fig tree or coriander, fleur-de-lis and quince. The mixed fragrance in the shop itself turned out to be so pleasing that Diptique created Candle 34, reproducing this smell. The sellers are usually friendly (a rare thing for Paris), calm and help customers in an almost impossible task to choose the right fragrance. Each visitor is taught the following ritual: in order to better understand the aroma of a candle, the glass it stands in is turned upside down, the candle falls on a special pad, and then all you need to do is smell the empty glass to feel the true smell of it. Every candle will be wrapped for you is a bright but stylish paper and it will become a perfect present for yourself and your friends that will remind of the trip for a long time.

Institut du monde arabe

Even if you are not interested in Arab culture or history you should visit the Arab World Institute. Firstly, its facade is decorated with a system of beautiful mechanical diaphragms inspired by Arab ornaments – this creation of Jean Nouvel is quite impressive. But the major hallmark of the building is a rooftop view, which can compare to the one from the Eiffel Tower (they also have a restaurant on top). You don’t even have to buy a ticket to get up. As for the exposition, it showcases history and archeology of the Arab world and lacks phantasy – items just lie under the glass, which may attract only those who are really interested in the field.

Quai Saint-Bernard

One of the most lively and pleasant embankments in Paris is Quai Saint-Bernard. It is a well-developed and green promenade between the Arab World Institute and Jardin des Plantes. There is a small park/museum Tino Rossi with modern sculptures, playgrounds and most importantly, several amphitheatres with dances held in the evenings during summertime; the dances are attended by pros and amateurs as well as ordinary people. Weather permittin and when all museums and shops are closed while it isn't yet time for dinner, you can observe Parisians in unusual environment to learn about the concept of "carpe diem", their ability to enjoy simple things and have fun, forgetting about all restraints. On weekdays dances start at 7 p.m., on weekends – at 5 p.m. The dancers can choose among three amphitheatres. The space gets quickly filled with couples dancing salsa, samba, tango or swing, but no matter what music plays, the main thing is the terrific atmosphere of the place. There are few other places in Paris where you can see the locals being so sincere and relaxed, to communicate with them while dancing and to realise that they are different from what they look like during the working day.

Jardin des plantes

You will not be allowed to lie on the grass of the Botanical Garden but for sure can walk around century-old cedar trees, shrubs and flowers or enjoy the scent in a huge rose garden. The largest territory is taken by the Zoo – little, but nice. Deer, pink flamingo, koala and kangaroo - you won’t will sorry for them as animals are properly looked after. Here you will also find a Natural History Museum and the super exciting Paleontology Museum with skeletons – from dinosaurs to almost all existing vertebrae. You can look at the fauna in the Great Gallery of Evolution and flora in Orangery – they often arrange shows, like exhibition of orchids. March-April is the best time to come when magnolia, apple and cherry trees are in bloom to say nothing of other flowers. However, gardeners work all year long so have something to showcase even in winter.

Les Docks - Cité de la mode et du design

Opened in 2012, the Docks fashion and design centre is set on the banks of the Seine. The place, nicknamed "the green caterpillar", really looks like the docks, though very modern ones. Its main feature is certainly the exhibitions of famous designers (Comme Des Garcons, Balenciaga), runway shows by young and (yet) unknown fashion designers, showrooms and receptions. You can easily spend a whole day here: start with yoga at Wanderlust, have brunch on the terrace of Moon Roof restaurant overlooking the Seine, visit an exhibition, and after inspecting the boutiques, have a cocktail or two and dance a bit at Nuba (a place by the owners of Baron) or Wanderlust. The Docks are never empty, so come here either in advance or some time after the beginning to avoid the queues.


It's another creation of Paris’ “chic mafia” La Clique (Le Baron, La Fidelité, Nanashi, Chez Moune, Le Lautrec, Hotel Amour…) on the roof of the Center for Fashion and Design. In fact it's a huge green terrace (a great view on Seine and Paris, wooden floors and furniture and lots of plants) plus a club-bunker. Atmosphere is like an exotic beach and very un-Paris relaxed – no dress code and everlasting holiday under electro beats played by world famous DJs and young Paris talents.


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