Paris Ouest ( ie: Western Paris) is an expression referring to the wealthiest, most exclusive and prestigious residential area of France. Located in the central and western part of Paris, it roughly follows Paris' Voie Royale (Royal Way) or Axe historique (historical axis): a line of monuments, buildings and thoroughfares that extends from the former royal Palace of the Louvre through the Tuileries, the Place de la Concorde, the Champs Élysées, the Place de l'Etoile and all the way to Neuilly-sur-Seine.
Paris Ouest has long been known as French high society's favorite place of residence, comparable to New York's Upper East Side, LA's Beverly Hills or London's Mayfair and Belgravia, to such an extent that the phrase "Paris Ouest" has been associated with great wealth, elitism and social hegemony in French popular culture as well as in some masterpieces of French literature such as Balzac's La comédie humaine or Proust's In Search of Lost Time.
The cultural, social and economic influence of the area has played a prominent role throughout French history and is still highly vivid in nowadays' French elite. Paris Ouest's standards of life were also highly influential in educating foreign elites, especially in Europe, Russia and Northern America (see Frick Collection). As so Paris Ouest should not only be seen as a geographic area but also as a social attitude symbolized by French high society's habits and way of life.
The "Rive Gauche" (Left Bank of the Seine) generally implies a sense of bohemianism and creativity as it was the Paris of artists, writers, philosophers and students. The counterpart of the Rive Gauche of Paris is the Rive Droite (Right Bank), a term used to refer to a level of elegance and sophistication not found in the more bohemian Left Bank.