Definitive guide

Île de la Cité

Île de la Cité, one of the two natural islands on the Seine, is the heart of ancient Paris and one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in the city.

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Île de la Cité (meaning City Island) or the Island of Paris, as it is also known, is a natural island in the river Seine, in central Paris. The island forms its own neighbourhood in the city, and a surprising amount of monuments and important attractions can be found in such a small area.

Entries to many of these sights are included with the Paris Museum Pass, which we highly recommend getting - you can do it here - to avoid queues and get free access to dozens of attractions in Paris.

Île de la Cité in Paris seen from above
Author: Pierre Metivier. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The abundance of historically relevant buildings is due to the island’s ancient history. As a matter of fact, Gallic settlements might have existed on the Île de la Cité as early as the 3rd century BC. Celtic tribes then lived on the island until the area was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC.

After Paris became the capital of the Frankish Empire, in 508 AD, the first cathedral of Paris was constructed on Île de la Cité between 540 and 545 AD. Throughout the Middle Ages, and in particular after the 12th century - with the construction of the Notre Dame Cathedral - and 13th century - with the Sainte-Chapelle - the island became a symbolic cultural and religious centre.

Although it cannot really be considered the centre of Paris anymore, Île de la Cité remains today a window into Paris’ past, full of important sights and buildings. But aside from the history, the island is also a charming part of Paris, with quaint little streets and welcoming squares like Place Dauphine, and Place Louis Lépine. This last one is particularly popular because of the Marché aux Oiseaux, the bird market.

Location

The Île de la Cité is located along the Seine river, between the 1st and 4th arrondissements of Paris.

Transport

Method
Lines
Stops
Method Métro Bus RER
Lines 4 21, 27, 38, 47, 75, 96 B, C
Stops Cité - Saint-Michel Notre-Dame

Sights

For being such a small island, Île de la Cité has quite a few important monuments and sites. Here is what you can find here.

Not far from the Île de la Cité you’ll also find other important attractions.


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Introduction
Île de la Cité