Paris' islands - Culture

Right in the centre of Paris

The île de la Cité and île Saint-Louis are located right in the centre of Paris. There are lots of bridges for getting to them, for example Pont Neuf, Pont Marie or Pont Saint-Louis, which connects both islands.

The island of kings

Île de la Cité

When Paris was still called Lutèce, this island formed a natural protection for its inhabitants. In 508, Clovis, King of the Franks, made Paris the capital of his kingdom. He moved onto the island where many Kings of France would live. From the 14th century, they would finally leave the island for the Louvre. In the 19th century, Baron Haussmann had quays built and endowed the island with its present-day appearance.

There are still three buildings from mediaeval times visible: Notre-Dame Cathedral, la Sainte-Chapelle and La Conciergerie, a former royal palace which was then converted into a prison. The famous flower market can also be found there, along with two green spaces: Square Jean XXIII, behind Notre-Dame and, at the western tip of the island, Square du Vert-Galant.

The island of palaces

Île Saint-Louis

This island originally comprised île Notre-Dame and île aux Vaches.
In the 17th century, the two islands were combined and the decision was made to build lodgings on them. This first major Parisian town planning project was entrusted to the entrepreneur Christophe Marie. Full-on small palaces, a whole host of private townhouses were built, such as Hôtel Rolland, Hôtel de Chenizot and its superb balcony, or the elegant Hôtel Lambert, designed by the architect Louis Le Vau. The island became known as île Saint-Louis in 1725.

Nowadays, in rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île, the main street, you can find a pretty little Gothic church as well as several shops such as the Berthillon ice cream parlour. The sorbets and ice creams sold there are some of the best in Paris!
Promenades d'île en île
This memo is part of the workshop
Promenades d'île en île

Did you know?

A meeting place for lovers

Square du Vert-Galant lies on the western tip of île de la Cité. Its name refers to Henri IV and the many mistresses he had - even in old age! Nowadays it's a popular meeting place for couples in love.

He wrote

"Paris was born, as we know, on this old île de la Cité, which is shaped like a cradle."

Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris

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