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The Ile de la Cité Island

Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in Paris

The Ile de la Cité Island - Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in Paris

At the heart of Paris, straddling the 1st and 4th arrondissements, near the Cité Metro station, lies the area that is considered to be the ancient birthplace of the French capital, the Island of the City (Ile de la Cité). Surrounded by the Seine, just like its neighbouring island, Ile Saint-Louis, it's a must-see destination for tourists visiting the City of Light.

It's impossible to resist the architectural and cultural heritage all around this absolutely magical place. In this part of Paris you'll have the pleasure of admiring the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and its famous towers, a celebrated Gothic monument that needs no introduction, or the sumptuous Holy Chapel with its majestic stained glass windows, known for once having contained the relics of the Passion of Christ. Close to the royal chapel, you can then see the Conciergerie on the Quai de l'Horloge, in the lower part of the Cité Palace. This former prison, where Queen Marie-Antoinette spent her final hours during the Terror, immerses visitors in one of Paris' darkest periods of history. On your visit you can see reconstructions of cells, the chapel dedicated to the memory of Marie-Antoinette, and some exceptional Gothic rooms.

Yet the Island of the City's charm above all resides in its peaceful and romantic atmosphere. Along the quays, you can stroll by the Seine and spend hours at the booksellers' stands, another great symbol of Paris. From vintage postcards to old books, you're sure to find something you like! In a quieter spot lies the Place Dauphine, which Jacques Dutronc sang about back in the day. It's also very charming with its harmonious façades and tree-lined square. Two more discreet institutions of the city of Paris are also on the island. If you look carefully, you can find the famous 36 quai des Orfèvres or the Paris Police Prefecture.

Plant-lovers won't be able to resist the flower market, the last one still active in Paris. Founded in 1808, it takes place on Place Louis-Lépine from Monday to Saturday, from 8 am to 7.30 pm. Plants, shrubs and colourful flowers can all be found at this unmissable event. On Sundays from 8 am to 7 pm it's replaced by the bird market, which is just as picturesque and lively!

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