The north side of Paris (or Right Bank, when facing downstream on the Seine) has a justified reputation for magnificence and sophistication. Its grandest street, the Champs-Elysées, lost some of its luster as major global brands moved in, but with the return of luxury houses such as Louis Vuitton, the avenue has regained much of its former cachet. The nearby Avenue Montaigne is the epicenter of the French fashion industry, while the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré is home to auction houses and upscale art galleries. South of the Seine, the Rive Gauche has traditionally figured as the bohemian and intellectual counterpart to the Rive Droite. Sartre and de Beauvoir once conversed in the cafés of the Boulevard Saint-Germain, but today the worldwide chains have largely replaced the galleries and bookstores. The Latin Quarter is still the locus of Parisian university life — the Sorbonne is here — and its narrow streets are crammed with cinemas and inexpensive Mediterranean food.

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