“A taste of the Left Bank”

Paris, France. May-June 2018 (15 photos)

This is Part 8 of my France 2018 photo series, and also Part 20 of my Europe 2018 photo series.

I was wandering amongst the Bouquinistes of Paris, along the Left Bank when I saw the poster of Doisneau’s famous photo. I waited for a while but sadly no couple happened to spontaneously kiss in front of that poster. C’est la vie.

I only took a couple of formal tours whilst I was in Paris, and one of them was a gourmet food tour. We visited several gourmet food shops, learning about the foods, and accumulating a variety of foods which we then took to a private cellar in a wine cave, There the foods were matched to several wines and I ate to my stomach’s content, learning about the French wine regions along the way. It was very enjoyable and when it finished after about 4 hours, I went off to get ice cream from the nearest Berthillon store. But that has nothing to do with this post except that the tour was called “A Taste of the Left Bank” and for this instalment of my Paris in the Spring series, I’m giving you a visual taste of the Left Bank of Paris.

“On the Champ de Mars, approaching the Eiffel Tower”

The Eiffel Tower is perhaps the best known attraction on the Left Bank. The problem with photographing from up on the Eiffel Tower (and I did) is that one’s photos of Paris don’t include the Eiffel Tower. So just a short walk away from the Eiffel Tower is Paris’ first (and controversial) skyscraper, the Montparnasse Tower which has an open-air roof top observation deck.

“Tour Eiffel from Tour Montparnasse”

The gold domed structure on the right is the Dome of Les Invalides. You may be able to see the Arc de Triomphe as well.

“Les Invalides”

Napoleon Bonaparte is buried there.

“Square d’Ajaccio”

I have no idea what that statue is depicting, but it caught my eye. Or maybe it was the sun.

The Left Bank (La Rive Gauche) is on the southern side of the Seine and encompasses six arrondissements. It is the smaller section of Paris, and historically known as the artistic part of the city. Picasso, Matisse, and Hemingway once lived in this area. The Left Bank evokes thoughts of a bygone era; the Paris of writers, artists and philosophers.

“Fromagerie Nicole Barthélémy”

Sadly, I simply walked past this cheese shop since my stomach was full from eating a dinner of Breton galettes.

“Saint Germain des Prés”

One of the older areas of Paris with lots of narrow and winding streets. There’s something interesting to find everywhere you look in and around this area.

“…could be seen reading peacefully, indifferent to worldly success. Beside him lies a dog or perhaps a cat … or in this case, a backpack”

Shakespeare and Co is the area’s famed bookstore. Often there will be a queue to get in with a staff member at the door controlling how many are allowed in at any one time.

“On location with the Riot Squad”

One day I encountered numerous police cars, barricades and cordoned off roads. Naturally I walked up to and through the barricades and came near to an area where a large angry demonstration was being held. It was one of the SNCF train strike days and the strikers, mixed with some pro-anarchy groups were creating a bit of havoc. There was a lot of smoke from fires and random “explosions” going off. As the police weren’t stopping anyone, I ducked underneath the police tape (like everyone else was doing) to get closer and have a look. Lots of chants, whistles and “songs of angry men”. At one stage police in full riot gear grabbed their shields and weapons and started to head in. I followed them just in case they needed my help. You may have seen that video online. Nothing came of it; the police stood down. After a few more “explosions” I figured my travel insurance wouldn’t cover me for any injuries so I decided to resume my normal tourism.

“The Pantheon”

Originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve but, after many changes, now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens.

“Rue Mouffetard”

In the Latin Quarter, this market street is believed to have been in existence since the 1st Century AD.

“La Sorbonne”

The Chapel of Sainte Ursule de la Sorbonne, also known as the Sorbonne Chapel, is a Roman Catholic chapel located in the Sorbonne historical site. It was rebuilt in the XVII century by order of Cardinal Richelieu.

“Luxembourg Gardens and Palace”


Montparnasse Cemetery (Cimetière du Montparnasse). I’ve already posted about Père Lachaise Cemetery.

“The Left Bank”

As the sun sets groups of people congregate along the Left Bank of the Seine. I think it’s a way of life.

This is Part 8 of my France 2018 photo series.
This is Part 20 of my Europe 2018 photo series, including Czechia (The Czech Republic), The Netherlands, France, Italy, Austria, Greece and Germany.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Paris in the Spring (7)


87 thoughts on “Paris in the Spring (7)

  1. Your wonderful photos bring back a flood of memories of my junior year of college which I spent in Paris in 1974-1975. A few years ago I was blessed to spend a couple of weeks in Paris reliving some of those memories, mostly wandering the streets and seeing many of the places that you feature in your images. Thanks for sharing them.

    • Thank you very much. It’s my pleasure. That would have been quite an experience reliving those memories in such a beautiful city. You could walk for hours there and not want to stop.

  2. Thank you for taking me there once again, Draco. Beautiful shots.
    The first time I was 17, and Paris was a dream…next time I was 19, and then, in my thirties, we went with the children. Silly me wanted to show them historic places and all they wanted to see was…Euro Disney. I also went with my mother and daughter about ten years ago, to celebrate my mother’s birthday. She had dreamed of Paris since she was very young. It felt So great to be able to take her there.

    Well, thank you for the lovely tour – and, as you say – so many memories come back to me.

  3. Thank you for this beautiful tour of the Left Bank Draco and for helping to prevent a riot ;o) So little has changed in these narrow streets, it still has the same artsy vibe as when I first walked there in the late seventies – that is so lovely to see :o)

  4. I always start your posts thinking ‘this one is my favourite’, but by the time I get to the end the favourites are numerous. 🙂 🙂 The first, the cheese shop and the long shot of Luxembourg Gardens are among them. And the last one, of course.

  5. Interesting that shot “Tour Eiffel from Tour Montparnasse” doesn’t show the river at all. I imagine it is the green ribbon in the centre, but I would have thought it could be seen or at least some of the bridges. I loved wandering around the Left Bank. Completely missed the Sorbonne though. And the Pantheon – great shot. The Rue Mouffetard wasn’t far from where we stayed on our last visit – a wonderful market and all sorts of food shops along there. Just goes to show that Paris keeps on giving and maybe I really ought to fit in one more visit whilst I can.

    • Yes, the green band running in an arc behind the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides is the Seine. When I was there, the water very was relatively low to the banks. Maybe that’s part of it. As I recall, most of the bridges are rather low profile as well.
      I had lunch on Rue Mouffetard. I found a nice boulangerie (not hard to find) and sat on a bench in the plaza like everyone else. Just enjoying life in Paris. Being a true “flaneur”. 🙂

  6. Heide says:

    I feel as if I’ve just been on a meandering afternoon’s stroll with you — and what a delightful time we’ve had! Your photos are simply wonderful … always so authentic and evocative. (I love your shot of the Panthéon! How on earth did you photograph it straight-on — without standing in traffic — and still fit the whole thing in one frame?) Fantastic post, Mr. Draco.

    • And equally, I’ve enjoyed your company on this tour of the Left Bank. Time for a spritz now. 🙂
      Thank you very much. Well the Pantheon photo took a bit of planning, as you might guess. Standing at the apex of the bollards wasn’t enough, so I had the camera preset, chose the spot on the road I wanted to photograph from, waited for a break in the traffic and then ran out there. I’ve done similar on Fifth Ave, NYC. LOL 🙂

  7. J.D. Riso says:

    Love the images, as usual. I can just smell that cheese shop. And that statue is just bizarre. Maybe the sculpteur had a twisted sense of humor.

    Not to be a bad influence or anything, but World Nomads insurance will cover riots, I think. As long as you can prove that you were accidentally there and not looking for trouble. I used them for a few of the dubious places I visited. 😃

    • Thank you very much, Julie. After a bit more googling i’ve discovered the sculpture is entitled “La défense du foyer”; Defence of the home. Built in 1887 by Emile André Bissau. I wonder what the inspiration was.

      Too late, you’re already an influence of me. I’ll look that insurance cover up for my next trip (this year 🙂 ).

  8. Sweet sweet Spring. Sounds like you were really keen on getting ice-cream after that your group lol. A variety of shots and it was brave of you to get close to the demonstration for just a moment to get a taste of it 🙂

    • Berthillon became famous in 1961 when French restaurant guide Gault Millau wrote about “this astonishing ice cream shop hidden in a bistro on the Ile Saint-Louis.”
      Professional pastry chef David Leibovitz said “This most-famous of all Parisian glaciers makes what many consider the best ice cream in the world.”
      I went 7 times in total. LOL 🙂 🙂 🙂 Expensive but so good.

      As for the demonstration, curiosity is a very strong emotion.

  9. Tom Gagner Photographer says:

    Thank you very much for bringing back some memories of Paris. I have visited Paris several times both in my profession and private. My most precious memory is when I took my then 15 year old daugter on a surprise trip by train to Paris. She thought we were going to Copenhagen (also is a highly recommedably city) but in Copenhagen I said “let’s jump on this train. It looks interesting”. We did that a couple of times and ended up in Paris. My daughter was a litte bit annoyed at first, but she forgave me when we arrived at Gare du Nord and we had a very nice stay in Paris.

    • That is quite a surprise to spring on a teenager! But of course the ultimate destination would make it all alright. 🙂 I also arrived into Paris via Gare Nord because I was staying in Montmartre. That area is a little bit disorienting but it all worked out.

      • Tom Gagner Photographer says:

        Gare du Nord is a wonderful train station. I have to admit that I was a little bit worried, but she is, and has always been, very confident in herself. When I – in Hamburg – told her that our destination was Paris she said “you know I don’t like surprises, but this one is ok”.
        It is possible that Montmarte is more like the original city not affected by Haussmann’s reconstruction of Paris in the 19th Century.
        Btw – I notised that I had misspelled “precious” but it was too late to correct it…

        • That’s great she was happy with the surprise. Yes, Montmartre has a different feel to the more metropolitan areas of Paris. I thought it was precious or previous. I’ll change the word spelling for you.

  10. These shots are stunning! I had a trip to Paris this past spring as well, unfortunately, I did not have my camera at that point. However, these really take me back to the trip. The whole atmosphere is amazing there and you really captured the feeling well. The stunning monuments, the small businesses along narrow streets, the bustling activity in the streets, all of it. I particularly enjoy “Fromagerie Nicole Barthélémy”. Simple, yet brilliant.

    • Thank you very much. As you say, there’s a great ambience to the city. Definitely too much to see and do in one trip, but part of the experience is just wandering and doing nothing in particular. It’s a fabulous city.

  11. These shots are stunning! I took a trip to Paris these past spring as well and these pictures capture the atmosphere so well. The narrow streets with small businesses along the sides, the bustling street activity, and the gorgeous monuments, all of it. And who can resist Berthillons? I especially love “Fromagerie Nicole Barthélémy”. Simple, yet brilliant.

  12. I’m away from blog land for a while going outback, but pop in and out when time permits and couldn’t resist this wander around the left bank with you lovely gallery of photos. Pity it is so far away from us, but you are certainly living every moment

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