Quirky Paris: Île de la Cité and the Left Bank

For a quirky taste of Paris, head to Île de la Cité, one of the islands floating in the middle of the Seine. While the better-known sites in the area, such as the Notre Dame cathedral (above) are quite serious, you’ll find a plethora of off-beat stops to round out the visit.

Notre Dame Cathedral

For this self-guided tour, start here, at the back of the Notre Dame cathedral. If you are look at the cathedral from this direction, head left toward the bridge. On the bridge to the Left Bank you’ll find the Pont de l’Archevêché, a bridge strewn with several hundred locks. While our guidebook told us that these were placed in honor of loved ones, it appears that just as many couples were commemorating their love in the same fashion. In fact, reviewers on Trip Advisor refer to this attraction as “The Love Bridge.”

Lots of lock love

This animal lock is ripe for puns! “I’m not lion–I love ya!”

Pont de l’Archevêché

Finally, continue down the bridge and turn right.map your way to 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, where the Shakespeare and Company bookstore is waiting for you to come inside and flip through a novel or two.

This bohemian establishment was started by an American woman in the early 1900s as a place for writers and free-thinkers to congregate, discuss, and, of course, read. Famous writers who came to her shop included Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, and Gertrude Stein. She even gave some aspiring young minds lodging in the space above the shop! The second floor, with its book nooks and ancient typewriters, is a terrific place to imagine these personalities interacting.

A well collects money for modern-day literati

Books from floor to ceiling? I’m in heaven!

The title “The Enchanted Wanderer” was appropriate for our trip

The staff was quite knowledgeable and excited to point you in the right (er, write) direction. When in doubt, though, the bookshelves also gave suggestions.

There’s our tour! Do you like to encounter off-beat places like this while traveling?

← Previous post

Next post →


  1. Just found your blog and must say – love reading about your travels!

    • Cassandra

      Thanks so much, Polly! I took a peak and your blog and am really curious about hearing your stories teaching ESL in Russia!

  2. I missed all of this last time I visited Paris! Will have to go on the list for my next visit. I can’t believe all of the padlocks on that bridge. I’ve seen a few in other cities around Europe but nothing quite like that. And the book shop sounds really cool, so much history. Great blog!

    • Cassandra

      Merci, Ben 🙂 Hope you get the chance to go back and see these offbeat sites on your next trip to France!

Leave a Reply

Read previous post:
Gustave Eiffel Park

Remember when I mentioned that Levallois-Peret, our base in Paris, was the neighborhood where Gustave Eiffel had his workshop? To commemorate...