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Ile de la Cite Travel Guide

Statue of Charlemagne - Place du Parvis Notre Dame

Ile de la Cité (1st and 4th Arrondissement) is a boat-shaped island on the Seine River that represents the nucleus of Paris. It was first inhabited by a Celtic tribe that lived on the island in 300 BC. The settlement grew with the help of the Romans, the Capetian Kings, and the Franks. In the Crypte Archéologique, you can still see the remains of the earliest settlement buildings. The Crypte Archéologique is located in front of the Notre-Dame Cathedral below the square on one end of the island. At the other end of the island, you’ll find such landmarks like the Saint-Chapelle, Palais de Justice, and the Conciergerie. The latter was a prison from 1391 until 1914 and was the cell used to hold Marie Antoinette in 1793 before her execution.[1] It was in this cell that the queen witnessed a notorious scene of the French Revolution – her best friend, the Comtesse de Lamballe, who was the daughter of France’s richest duke – dismembered and torn to pieces by a wild mob. It was also the same holding cell for revolutionary leaders, Danton and Robespierre, who later fell victim to the Reign of Terror.[2]

At the eastern end of the district, you’ll find the Ancien Cloître Quartier hidden behind the Notre Dame Cathedral. This nook originally served as an area for seminary students. The appeal of this area is the presence of many houses that date back to the Middle Ages. Particularly at the intersection of Rue des Chantres and Rue des Ursins, you’ll be absolutely mesmerized by the lovely medieval palaces, tiny gardens, and cul-de-sac steps that will take you back in time.[3]

At Ile de la Cité, you’ll also find the Notre Dame Cathedral, Sainte-Chapelle Church, and Pont Neuf. The latter is the oldest bridge in Paris, dating back to 1578.[4]

Notre-Dame Cathedral
Sainte-Chapelle Church
Ancien Cloître
Pont Neuf
Square du Vert-Galant

DK Publishing. Europe (Eyewitness Travel Guides), Revised Edition. New York: DK Travel, 2004. ISBN: 0789497301.

Fisher, Robert I. C., and Fodor’s. Fodor’s France. New York: Fodor’s Travel Publications, 2007. ISBN: 1400016878.

“Île de la Cité.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%8Ele_de_la_Cit%C3%A9>

[1] DK, 152
[2] Fisher, 43-44
[3] Id. at 42
[4] Île

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