PARIS Life on the Left Bank: Paris's 6th arrondissement

Globally renowned as a cornerstone of Parisian culture and heritage, Paris' 6th arrondissement encompasses St German, The Left Bank and some of the city's most iconic brasseries, but what's it really like behind the scenes? Locals share their insights and where to go to beat the tourist crowds.

PARIS

Life on the Left Bank: Paris's 6th arrondissement

Globally renowned as a cornerstone of Parisian culture and heritage, Paris' 6th arrondissement encompasses St German, The Left Bank and some of the city's most iconic brasseries, but what's it really like behind the scenes? Locals share their insights and where to go to beat the tourist crowds.

Paris’s 6th arrondissement, embracing the Left Bank and St German, vibrates with cultural heritage, its art institutions and iconic brasseries a meeting point for the world’s leading intellectuals and artists over the centuries. Talk to a local and they'll tell you its changed over the past two decades: its fame now draws tourists in droves, and leading fashion houses, from Cartier to Louis Vuitton, have taken the place of independent bookstores and publishing houses. Yet, for Parisians, it remains one of the most special parts of town, especially if you know where to go…

Its my favorite neighborhood in Paris’, explains Rasmus Michau, ‘The 6th is fantastic...it oozes culture, from music to art, fashion and literature, its all here.’ A serial entrepreneur, Michau is on the cusp of launching Paris’s first Soho-House style member’s club and co-working space, The Bureau, in early November. There’s no doubt that his finger is firmly on Paris pulse, and while there’s arguably cooler neighborhoods, Michau maintains that the 6th remains his preferred part of town after 15 years as a local resident. “What I loved most about living here is that you step out of your door and there is always something going on. If you are looking for the latest trendy opening, you probably won’t find it in the 6th, but what makes it special is the old institutions, the amazing bistros and cafes, the heritage. It’s refreshingly free from hipsters and the gentrification that you seem to find everywhere these days.

In his spare time, Michau teaches digital business at the School for Political Science, which is also located in the 6th and renowned as the alma mater of many a French president.  "After class, I often go for a drink with my students and that’s what makes the 6th unique – it’s a melting pot for interesting people across politics, business and fashion.  Its where you go to have intelligent, thought-provoking conversations rather than where kids go to prove how hip they are.

Along side the fashion houses and top luxury brands, the 6th is also where the world’s leading specialist designer houses have set up their ateliers and showrooms.  "From Pierre Frey to Zoober, its where I go to dream about the amazing design that I cant afford", he laughs, "Its also very convenient to walk to the galleries in the 7th, such as the the Kamel Mennour and the Valois, and then there is the whole Rive Gauche scene along St German and the amazing Luxembourg Gardens, where I used to go as a student and read very difficult books in order to attract the girls. I don’t do that anymore!"

For contemporary Brazilian artist Bruno Schmidt, who moved to the neighborhood in 1999 from New York, the Luxembourg Gardens were the reason he chose to live in the 6th. ‘When I moved here, I had young kids and the gardens were perfect for them.  Their entire life, from babies to teenagers, has played out in those gardens.  They studied nearby at the Lycée Montaigne, which is one of the best public schools in Paris, and they were very happy to grow up there – playing with friends who all came from the same neighborhood. In the past 20 years, the 6th has changed a lot; there are more fashion houses than there are local butchers and its become more bourgeoisie, but it still has a close neighborhood feel and I wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else.”

Despite prices per square meter coming in at amongst the most expensive in town, properties for sale in the 6th get snapped up quickly, particularly new builds, which only come on the market every few years. ‘It’s a place where foreigners looking for a pied-a-terre in Paris want to buy as its so centraland the experience you get is so quintessentially Parisian‘, explains Bruno, ‘there’s always demand for property here, particularly around the Jardin du Luxembourg.’​

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