Ile de Cité is the birthplace of Paris and the link between the two banks. Even though this small piece of land in the middle of the Seine has been deeply modified over the centuries, it contains some of the capital’s most beautiful gems.
The first is of course the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, immortalised by the novelist Victor Hugo. It remains the most visited monument in France. But it isn’t the island’s only masterpiece of gothic architecture, as within the Palais de Justice (Palace of Justice), you can discover the Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel), a magnificent setting which holds the sacred relics of Christ, including the Crown of Thorns.
You can go back to the Roman origins of Paris by going down to the archaeological Crypt of Notre-Dame. But perhaps you will prefer to relive the great history of Paris by visiting the Conciergerie, the last home of Marie-Antoinette, built by Philippe Le Bel.
Get back to the great outdoors and go down to the quays to board a cruise of the Seine at the Saint-Michel bridge. If you prefer dry land, walk along the banks to reach the tip of the island and arrive at Vert-Galant square. Go back up from the water’s edge and admire the Pont Neuf (New Bridge) and the magnificent equestrian statue of Henry IV.
Before nightfall, enjoy the sunshine on one of the terraces of the very leafy and concealed Place Dauphine. From the shade of the large trees, you can admire number 15 in particular, where Simon Signoret and Yves Montand once lived.