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Lose the crowd in the heart of Paris: the pleasure of exploring the island of Ile St Louis

Lose the crowd in the heart of Paris: the pleasure of exploring the island of Ile St Louis

  • Ile St Louis is a small island in Paris connected to Notre Dame by a pedestrian bridge
  • It was developed in the 17th century as an extension of the Marais district.
  • Café Le Flore en L’Ile has the best views of Notre Dame and the Left Bank


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The next time you visit Paris, set aside some time to visit Ile St Louis.

This small island, connected to Notre Dame by a pedestrian bridge, has no famous monuments or metro connection, but it is the perfect choice for a quiet break or a walk away from the crowds.

Just under half a mile long, it was developed in the 17th century as an extension of the new Marais district, in the style that reached its peak at Versailles and gives the island its satisfying architectural unity.

Ile St Louis is the perfect choice for a quiet break or a stroll away from the crowds

Ile St Louis is the perfect choice for a quiet break or a stroll away from the crowds

Today it is a favorite place for many Parisians to stroll on Sundays, buy an ice cream or just sit on its quiet docks. They come to play the guitar, have a picnic, sunbathe and enjoy the views of Paris across the crystal clear water.

The river dissolves the normal roar of traffic, which means that the main sounds on Ile St Louis are seagulls, drifting commentary from passing bateaux-mouches, uncovered tourist boats, and waves hitting the pier at his step.

A friend visiting from London was amazed to note that several hours of sunshine had passed while we sat chatting on the quayside, surrounded by young Parisians who made little noise. That could never have happened in London, she said, deeply impressed.

You’ll find that Le Flore en L’Ile café has the best views of Notre Dame and the Left Bank.

At Poget & De Witte’s oyster bar you can have a very Parisian snack of oysters and a glass of white wine, or you can find something sweeter at the Berthillon ice cream parlor, founded in 1954 and famous for using only natural ingredients.

Drink it: the best views of Notre Dame are from Cafe Le Flore en L'Ile

Drink it: the best views of Notre Dame are from Cafe Le Flore en L'Ile

Drink it: the best views of Notre Dame are from Cafe Le Flore en L’Ile

Next, admire the Baroque Church of St Louis-en-l’Ile.

Also take the time to see the Hotel Lambert, the large privately owned mansion that was designed and decorated in 1640 by the creators of Versailles and overlooking the eastern tip of the island. Considered one of the most beautiful houses in Paris, it is currently owned by the brother of the Emir of Qatar.

Next door, the equally resplendent Hotel de Lauzun has drains shaped like dolphins, their scales trimmed in gold.

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