What is the "Rive Droite" in Paris?

The commerical area known as Les Halles is one of the busiest areas on the Rive Droite in Paris.
••• The bustling commercial area known as Les Halles is one of the busiest areas on the Rive Droite in Paris. 2006 Courtney Traub.

If you've ever visited Paris or read at any length about it, chances are you may have heard or seen the term "rive droite" used to describe a large swathe of the city. But what exactly does this term refer to, anyway? 

"Rive Droite" literally means "right bank" and refers to the northern arrondissements of Paris, whose natural border is the Seine River. The Seine bifurcates the city of Paris into north and south areas.

The Ile de la Cité, located between the left and right banks of the Seine, harbored the original settlement by the tribe known as the Parisii in the 3rd century BC. Paris only sprawled south and north of the Seine beginning in the Middle Ages. See more on Paris history to learn more about the development of the city.

Well-known monuments and places on the Rive Droite:

While the Rive Gauche tends to be more romantically associated with old Paris, the right bank in fact boasts an enormous share of some of the city's most iconic and beloved sights and monuments.

These include the Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, the Musee du Louvre, the Sacre Coeur Basilica and Montmartre, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the surrounding neighborhoods of Beaubourg and Les Halles,  and the trendy Marais neighborhood.

What's more, the right bank comprises more of the city, and is more densely populated than the left bank.

The vast majority of Paris' 20 arrondissements are located north of the Seine River: the Rive Droite encompasses the 1st arrondissement, 2nd arrondissement, 3rd arrondissement, 4th arrondissement, 8th arrondissement, as well as the 9th-12th and 16th-20th arrondissements of Paris. 

Reputation and Historical Notes on the Area:

The Rive Droite is a traditional center of commerce and trade in Paris, as opposed to the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) which has historically been the locus of intellectual and religious life in Paris, housing several important universities such as the Sorbonne.

By contrast, over several centuries the right bank has housed the headquarters of banking and finance groups, the stock market or Bourse, and other industrial activities. Nevertheless, it has a history of popular theatre and performance, with areas such as the Grands Boulevards, Montmartre and Pigalle some of the more legendary hotspots for traditional cabarets and popular theatre of a less "highbrow" variety.  

The right bank continues to house the city's more metropolitan, multicultural areas and is still the center of most business within the city walls. But thanks to cheaper rents in the northeastern districts and a more contemporary focus, it's also become the heartbeat of the Parisian arts, culture and fashion scene.

Pronunciation: [riv drawt] (reehv-dwaht)

Examples of the Phrase Used in Context:

"The rive droite is a bustling center of business in Paris and also tends to be the locus of the contemporary arts scene."

"There are fewer rive-droite cafés associated with great modern writers, but Café de la Paix near the Avenue de l'Opéra is certainly one of them."