Île de la Cité

Île de la Cité (6)

The Ile de la Cité holds the origin of Paris in its interior. It is the largest island of the Seine and this was where, 200 years BC, the Celtic tribe of the Parisii settled. The city they founded was called Lutetia. From then on and throughout the centuries, the city continuously grew and prospered. 

Paris gradually became famous for the reputation of its boatmen, the owners of the small boats that plied the Seine. In 506 it was proclaimed capital of the kingdom ruled by Clovis. It was then when the island took on the name of Cité and was fortified. In this period it also to repel the attacks of Norman troops more than once, who visited the city but not with the idea of stopping for a coffee.

During the Middle Ages, the city was bursting with life. The population continued to grow and eventually surpassed the limits of the island, becoming established on the banks of the Seine. Paris became the political, cultural and spiritual centre of France and by extension, of all Europe. Its main monuments date from this period: the Royal Palace, which would later be the Conciergerie, Sainte-Chapelle and the cathedral of Notre Dame.

On its no more than 26 hectares of land, before the Revolution, the Ile de la Cité housed as many as twenty churches, four chapels, the palace of the Archbishop of Paris, two hospitals, four public squares, a library and was home to 15,000 inhabitants in less than 50 streets.

Such overcrowding meant that big urban planning reorganisation work had to be undertaken. Streets were made wider so that sunlight could enter and districts were knocked down that did not possess the minimum hygienic conditions. 

Today, more than 5,000 people live on Ile de la Cité and on it you can visit the cathedral of Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, the Hotel de Dieu hospital, the Conciergerie, the High Court or the Police Station.  If you lose yourself among its streets you might come out in one of its four squares: the Vert-Galant, the Dauphine, the Ile de France and Place Louis-Lépine. In this latter is the charming flower market, which fills with colour and fragrances all the year round. 

If Paris can boast of one thing, it is that it has a lot of bridges. Of the 37 bridges in the entire city, 8 connect Ile de la Cité with the other banks of the Seine. One of them is the oldest bridge in Paris, the Pont Neuf, which crosses the island at its west end, joining the two banks of the river. Other bridges on the island are the Pont au Change, the Pont Notre-Dame, the Pont d’Arcole, the Pont Saint-Michel, the Petit Pont, the Pont au Doble and the Pont de l’Archevede.

The Pont de Saint-Louis joins the Ile de la Cité with another island, that of Saint-Louis, which is to the west behind Notre Dame. This island is very peaceful and has several luxury houses, conserving a certain provincial air. 

We recommend you take a stroll around the area, as well as visiting two masterpieces such as Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle. It is a pretty and quiet spot to get away from the noise and traffic that floods Paris every day, and if you get the chance, go and see the flower market, one of the most famous in the city.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website