The history of the Ile de la Cité is really where the history of Paris began. This island on the river Seine was no more than a primitive village when the conquering Julius Caesar arrived in the year 53BC. Ancient kings were later to make the boat shaped island the centre of political power and in the medieval era it became the centre of the church and law.
Although the island no longer holds the same power of the city, the church and the law still have a stronghold, and still arouse the delight of the many tourists that are drawn to the imposing buildings of the Palais de Justice and the gothic masterpiece of Notre Dame.
The clusterof medieval dwellings and tiny narrow streets that once characterised the Ile de la Cite were cleared away long ago by modernisation. Spacious thoroughfares were built in the 19th century to adapt to the growing city. Still there are some charming areas on the island, including the colourful bird and flower market, the romantic Square du Vert-Galant and the ancient Place Dauphine.
Towards the eastern end of the island the St-Louis bridge connects the Ile de la Cite, to its smaller sibling Ile St-Louis. This former swampy pasture was reconstructed during the 17th century into an elegant residential area. Over the last few decades it has become a popular residential area for Paris’ most elite residents – rich artists, actresses, doctors and heirs have all lived there; drawn to its charming tree-lined quays and intimate and picturesque atmosphere.
You can reach the Ile de la Cité and Ile St-Louis by taking the Paris Metro to the Cite metro stop. There are also various buses that will take you there and crossover to the Ile-St Louis.
GlobalCityBreakhave some wonderful accommodation throughout the city centre of Paris. Visit our holiday apartments in Paris section.