Paris tours

Ile Saint Louis. History. Sights. Hotels.

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Ile de France

Ile Saint Louis in Paris is the second largest island on the Seine river. Entirely built in the 17th century, it keeps a romantic and quiet atmosphere, close to Notre Dame. Most sights are private and hardly visitable. Hotels are few. Berthillon, the icecream maker is the biggest attraction. Walk around the island on the banks to admire the view. Places to visit in Paris.

Ile Saint Louis facts

An island on the Seine river, at walking distance from Notre Dame Cathedral, Ile Saint Louis (Saint Louis Island) is a lovely old Paris district. Ile Saint Louis combines romantic river banks, 17th century houses, village like life. The island on the Seine river retains its 17th century outlook. Ile Saint Louis is today very trendy and extremely expensive. It attracts many tourists looking for romantic Paris and out of the beaten track shopping Rue Saint Louis en l'Ile. Paris map.

Notre Dame seen from the quays of Ile Saint Louis
Notre Dame seen from the quays of Ile Saint Louis

Ile Saint Louis visit

Walk from Notre-Dame to Ile Saint Louis through Notre Dame Gardens (Jardin de l'Archevéché) and the pedestrian Pont Saint Louis. Enjoy the romantic views over Notre Dame, Le Marais, the left bank from the Seine river quays. Look for Bertillon famous ice-creams, 31 rue Saint-Louis en l'Ile. Taste them at Le Flore en L'Ile, 42 quai d'Orleans, an affordable French restaurant with a beautiful view over Notre Dame. Le Flore en l'Ile review. Enjoy French food at Brasserie de l'Ile Saint Louis, 55 quai de Bourbon. Web site. Look for Hotel Lauzun, 17, Quai d'Anjou, a superb mansion that can be visited on rare occasions, and Saint Louis en L'Ile Church, 19, rue Saint Louis en l'Ile.

Paris metro: Pont Marie, line 7 (5 minutes walk across the Seine river). Locate Ile Saint-Louis on Paris map.

Parisians shopping in Ile Saint Louis
Parisians shopping in Ile Saint Louis

Ile Saint Louis hotels

There are few hotels on Ile Saint Louis. Anjou de Ile Saint-Louis apartment is a great alternative. 600 m from Notre Dame Cathedral, the apartment features river views and is 900 m from Opéra Bastille. This apartment provides guests with 1 bedroom, a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. The apartment also includes a kitchen with a microwave, and a bathroom with a bath or shower. Popular points of interest near the apartment include Pompidou Centre, Louvre Museum and Place de la République.

23, quai d'Anjou
Paris 75004 France

View from Quai d'Anjou in Ile Saint Louis
View from Quai d'Anjou in Ile Saint Louis

Ile Saint Louis history

In early 17th century, Ile Saint Louis did not yet exist.

There were two islands, Ile aux Vaches upstream and Ile Notre-Dame downstream. The two islands belonged to the chapter of Notre-Dame Cathedral and served as pastures.

King Henri IV decided to merge the two islands to develop a new district. The development could have stopped in 1610 when the king was assassinated, but his son Louis XIII continued the project. The two islands merged into one in 1614. The king commissioned the architect Christophe Marie with its development. Marie planned quays around the island and several streets crossing at right angles.

The French aristocracy flocked to the island and commissioned Le Vau with the construction of their new mansions. Ile Saint Louis was built over an uninterrupted period of 30 years from 1620 to 1650. The result is a unity of architecture that gives it its unique elegance.

Ile Saint Louis from the sky
Ile Saint Louis from the sky

Ile Saint Louis urban planning

The development of Ile Saint-Louis in the 17th century was entrusted to Christophe Marie, general builder for Public Works. In exchange for his work, he was granted a license to build elegant residences. Wealthy businessmen and politicians came here to live away from the noise of the city. Marie partnered with two builders, Lugles Poulletier and François Le Regrattier, and chose Louis Le Vau as architect. In 1614, the ditch between the two islets was filled in. Houses were constructed between 1620 and 1650.

This island project was an urban planning revolution. It utilized a carefully drafted urban plan for the first time in the city. It was no longer possible to build by just following the topography of the land. The new streets were built straight and perpendicular to a central axis. To reduce the risk of fires, stone and slate replaced wood, plaster and thatched roofs. For the first time, dwellings were orientated towards the outside, rather than towards an inner courtyard, with windows and balconies looking out to river views. Courtyards were narrow and the usual gardens almost nonexistent.

Hotel de Lauzun in Ile Saint Louis
Hotel de Lauzun in Ile Saint Louis

Eglise Saint Louis en l'Ile

Saint Louis en l'Ile is a beautiful 17th century church. Its style is baroque. Its artistic richness impresses. The erection of the first houses on the island was followed by a petition to obtain a place of worship. In 1623, a first chapel was built. As it became too small, it was decided to build a church. Its construction began in 1656 on the plans of François le Vau, brother of the architect of Versailles. The church was dedicated in 1726. In 1791, during the French revolution, the church was closed and its interior looted. The church was sold as national property in 1798. It was rendered to worship by the purchaser. Pope Pius VII celebrated the Mass in 1805.

The luxurious decoration of Saint-Louis-en-l'Île, based on multiple gilding and stucco, was designed by the famous French painter Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne.

3 Rue Poulletier
Paris 75004 France

Eglise Saint-Louis en l'Ile
Eglise Saint-Louis en l'Ile

Berthillon on Ile Saint Louis

Berthillon produces and sells luxury ice cream and sorbet. The original store is located on Ile Saint-Louis. From 1928, Raymond Berthillon operated a restaurant called Le Bourgogne. The ice creams became famous in 1961 when restaurant guide Gault Millau wrote about "this astonishing ice cream shop hidden in a bistro." Berthillon still produces and sells the most famous ice creams in town.

29/31, rue Saint Louis en l'Ile
Paris 75004 France