While Paris’ famous attractions and touristy areas are popular for a good reason, it is always refreshing to discover and explore underrated areas and less crowded places to get away from the hustle that is characteristic of big cities. We were taking a walk along the banks of the Seine river when we decided to head towards the Ile Saint-Louis.
The Ile Saint-Louis is one of the two natural islands in the Seine, the other being the Ile de la Cité, where is located the famous Notre Dame de Paris cathedral. The island is connected to the rest of Paris by several bridges from both banks as well as by the Pont Saint-Louis from the Ile de la Cité.
We first walked on the banks (“quais”) of the Seine around the island before entering the heart of it. Many famous and influential French people used to live in Saint-Louis, including, among others, Charles Baudelaire, Marie Curie and Georges Pompidou.
All the roads around the island are narrow one-way streets, with very few cars driving over them. A majority are paved with cobblestones.
The Ile Saint-Louis was built during the 17th century, under the reigns of Henri IV and Louis XIII. All of the buildings on the island were, luckily, spared by the radical urbanization of the 19th century and still boast the architectural style of their original construction. Therefore, the area still has this aristocratic cachet and most of the buildings are beautiful townhouses (“Hôtels particuliers”) with wrought iron doorways, balconies and carved stone doors.
After exploring the quays, we made our way inwards to the main street, Rue Saint Louis en l’Ile, which crosses the Island from east to west. The Ile Saint-Louis is full of beautiful facades and colorful doors.
The Ile Saint Louis is a timeless oasis and calm escape in the fast-paced, busy center of Paris. We found it to be a peaceful place where you can go for a walk when you want to relax and avoid big groups of tourists and honking cars. Definitely plan on spending a couple hours there during your next getaway to Paris!
Ile Saint-Louis, 4th Arrondissement, Paris
Timing: approx. 1:30