Author's Pick of Interesting Sites

Toni Morrison, Robert DeNiro, and Jodie Foster are just a few of the American celebrities who visit Paris's Rive Gauche today. They're part of a long tradition of renowned artists and thinkers drawn to the area's distinct ambience.

Some places to see:

1. Benjamin Franklin stayed at No. 2-4 rue de l'Universite while he sought support for the American Revolution.

2. Quai Voltaire has long been a hangout for artists. Jean-Dominique Ingres, the master of French classical painting, spent his last days at No. 11. Poet Charles Baudelaire and composer Richard Wagner frequented a nearby hotel. The philosopher Voltaire died at No. 27 in 1778.

3. Oscar Wilde spent his last days at a hotel on rue des Beaux-Arts. Today, the renamed L'Hotel attracts guests such as the actors Glenn Close, Robert DeNiro, and Julie Christie.

4. The Ecole des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) was founded by King Louis XIV and remains Paris's best.

5. Seventeenth-century dramatist Jean Baptiste Racine lived on rue Visconti. Novelist Honore de Balzac had a printing press up the street. In 1836, Eugne Delacroix moved into a studio where he would paint George Sand and Frederic Chopin.

6. Pablo Picasso lived on rue des Grands-Augustins from 1936 to 1955 and painted "Guernica" here.

7. Poet e.e. cummings rented a room on rue St.-Andre-des-Arts some 60 years ago. Jack Kerouac later spent evenings at No. 28, now a pizzeria.

8. Les Deux Magots, a cafe frequented by Ernest Hemingway, sits across the square from St.-Germain-des-Pres, the oldest church in Paris.

9. Painter James McNeill Whistler moved to rue du Bac in 1893 and entertained friends such as Edgar Degas, Eduoard Manet, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

10. From 1921 to 1940, Sylvia Beach ran her bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, on rue de l'Odeon. It was a support center for writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thornton Wilder, and Ezra Pound. She single-handedly published James Joyce's "Ulysses."

11. Rue Monsieur-le-Prince has been a base for Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Whistler. Joyce and Hemingway frequented the restaurant Polidor, which still serves hearty, inexpensive meals.

12. Restaurants along the Boulevard Montparnasse have long attracted the beau monde. La Closierie des Lilas, founded in 1808, was a hangout for revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Singer Josephine Baker, writer Henry Miller, and artists Man Ray and Henri Matisse frequented La Coupole at various times. Artists Marc Chagall and Constantin Brancusi painted columns in its main room in exchange for meals.

13. The Sorbonne, France's first university, was established in 1253. The school was occupied by radical students in 1968 and stormed by riot police.

14. Dancer Isadora Duncan enjoyed giving impromptu 5 a.m. performances in the Luxembourg Gardens.

Sources: City of Paris; mayor's office, 6th Arrondisement; Frommer's Paris; Access Paris; Rough Guide: Paris; TimeOut Paris Guide; lots of legwork.

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