Visit the Île de la Cité in Paris: Notre Dame, Conciergerie, Sainte-Chapelle
Thanks to its privileged location, the Île de la Cité neighborhood in Paris is one of the tourist and historic hotspots of the City of Lights. People lived there since the Antiquity: the Seine river enclosing the island protected Parisians from invaders.
Visiting the Île de la Cité provides a deep insight into one of the most glorious eras of French History. The Notre-Dame Cathedral, a pearl of Gothic architecture, is one of the world’s most visited monuments. Tourists and Parisians marvel at its façade, its towers, its statues and gargoyles from its forecourt, the exact location of the Point Zero of French roads: this place is so important that it sets the starting point of all the roads leaving the French capital. History lovers can visit Notre-Dame’s archeological crypt that shelters underground the vestiges of the first inhabitants during the Antiquity.
A guided visit of the Île de la Cité in Paris cannot avoid the Conciergerie. This monument was the sumptuous living place of the French kings from the 10th century to the 14th century, then it became a prison, a law court and even a revolutionary court at the end of the 18th century. The Hall of the Guard of Philip the Fair, the kitchens of John the Good still show how wonderful the place used to be. The cells also bear a lot of history: Marie Antoinette was imprisoned in one of them. Another absolute must-see for anyone visiting the Île de la Cité: the Sainte-Chapelle. This pearl of medieval architecture was built by Saint-Louis to shelter some of the most precious and sacred relics of Christianity.
But you will also enjoy the soul of this neighborhood that maintains some green havens. The Place Dauphine, the Square du Vert-Galant or even the Square Jean XXIII are as many peaceful and green places for visitors to relax. You may also take a stroll along the river banks, on the Quai des Orfèvres, where are located the police headquarters, the Quai de l’Horloge or the Quai du Marché Neuf, and watch barges taking tourists for a cruise passing by.
The Île de la Cité is served by the metro station Cité (metro line 4) and is located both in the 1st and the 4th arrondissements. It also gives quick access to some of the most beautiful tourist attractions and Paris monuments. If you take the Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris, you will easily reach the Louvre Museum. By walking, you can also easily access the alleyways and shops of the renowned Marais neighborhood in the north: do not miss out on the Saint-Jacques Tower, the vestige of a church now disappeared, or the Centre Georges Pompidou. The bridges south of the island, such as the Saint-Michel Bridge, will lead you to the Latin Quarter, famous for its liveliness: the French National Museum of the Middle Ages reopened in 2018 after a period of work, now is maybe the time to visit it…
If you want to enjoy the many historical monuments and tourist attractions, but also the anecdotes and unusual places of this extraordinary neighborhood, the cradle of Lutetia, you can also book our Paris audio-guided tours we created with Lorànt Deutsch.