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How to find your way around Paris Jul 16

Paris is a big city, and it’s old. It has twisty narrow streets that go back to the Romans, maybe earlier. A river runs through it, which means you have to cross a bridge to get from one side to the other.

Pont Neuf, the oldest standing bridge in Paris. Click to enlarge

Here’s a very brief geography lesson.

Left Bank. At Paris, the Seine flows roughly westwards, and you face downstream when you choose right and left, so the Left Bank is mainly the south side of town. You probably know that the term “Left Bank” has all sorts of social and cultural and lifestyle connotations. That’s why it’s interesting to go there. The rumors are all true.

Right Bank. Opposite the Left Bank (duh), and refers to the northern half of the city. Right Bank connotes elegance and sophistication in contrast to the more bohemian area to the south.Think Champs Elysées.

Arrondissement. Okay, you have to know about this even if you don’t “learn” it. Paris is divided up into twenty arrondissement or districts. The First is in the center of the city, and the others are laid out clockwise around it. These are such a basic unit to the city, they are constantly referred to in the guides, usually using the number and a French suffix (1er, or 2em etc.). The Louvre is in the First, the Arc de Triomphe is in the Eighth. The last two digits of a Paris address give the arrondissement; 75018 is in the eighteenth.

The Latin Quarter. A Left Bank region in the 5th arrondissement. It has been the center of the Paris’s university life for over seven hundred years. So it’s Latin as in the language of the Romans (and scholars), not Latin as in Hispanic.

The Marais. This area has retained many small streets and hints at how Old Paris looked.

The Métro. The Paris subway. It is extensive and serves nearly every corner of the city.It is famous for how well it is run. Take the metro; you won’t get lost.

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Category: Adventure
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