Valerie Benigno,  lives on Paris’ Left Bank, and works at the charming Hotel St. Paul Rive Gauche, in the Latin Quarter near St. Germain du Pres —the heart of the 5th and 6th arrondisements. Valerie is the go-to Parisian to find that perfect cafe or shop, or the best route to a little-known bistro, and to enjoy the charms of this artsy, historic area of Paris.

Valerie shares her Left Bank memories. We find the secret ways of how to tell a Left Bank person from someone who lives on the other side of the Seine, and why the 5th and 6th are called The Latin Quarter. 

She talks of Left bank artists and writers. The Sorbonne and other schools are on The Left Bank, and the Pantheon, where the greats of France are buried. She mentions a surprising thing about the statue of St. Genevieve, and the ancient parts of Paris near the Cluny museum,  famed for its medieval collection, and the ruins of the Roman city called Lutetia. 

 Narrow streets are filled with delightful shops, including the famed chocolate shop that once served Marie Antoinette. And to relax, there is the magnificent Luxembourg Gardens, with ponds and a carousel, a museum and pony rides, flowers and fountains and the ancient home of Maria de Medici, now home to the French senate. 

We talk of the Delacroix museum, the oldest church in Paris, St. Germaine, and sites where movie scenes were shot: the Da Vinci Code in the ancient church, St. Sulpice, and the old restaurant featured in “Midnight in Paris.”  Valerie offers her favorite memory  to end a conversation as delicious as a French macaron. And by the end of the podcast we understand better why the Left Bank of Paris is so magical. 

About Valerie Benigno

Valerie was born in Paris: her father is French but his parents were from Sicily; her mother was Italian but became French when she married.

Valerie studied law, and on a visit to her great-grandmother in Sicily, she decided to move there, even though she did not speak Italian. Valerie’s  parents bought a seaside restaurant, and she managed it for five years, which gave her a good reason to learn the language.

Valerie eventually spoke French, Italian, English and a bit of German and Spanish, so she went into the hotel industry when she returned to Paris.

For over 20 years Valerie has worked at the Hotel Saint Paul Rive Gauche. Living and working on the Left Bank of Paris, she is one of the most helpful, charming and knowledgeable experts on the area.


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