Ile Saint Louis : the quiet old lady of Paris
This piece of rock, in the middle of the Seine, looks like a boat viewed from the sky (or from google earth, which is more convenient…). And this little island crossed by only one street in its middle is full of contradictions.
It’s one of the two islands still existing inside Paris limits (a third near the Eiffel tower, l’Ile au Cygnes, is an artificial one). In fact, before the XVII th century, there were two different islands separated by a little channel: Ile aux vaches (the cows island) et Ile Notre Dame. The channel will be suppressed and the new island will be named Ile Saint Louis, to honor the king Louis IX who loved to pray there.
Compare to its prestigious neighbor: Ile de la cite, with Notre Dame, the Hospital “Hotel Dieu” and the court of justice, Ile Saint Louis seems very calm . No big monument, no touristic attraction, just its beautiful buildings, its main street and its docks. But what a pleasure to go for a walk in those little streets on a sunny day: take a ice cream at Berthillon’s, visit little shops, and have a drink at the terrace of a brasserie, just behind Notre Dame.
Good addresses and things to do:
Starting from the right bank, just behind the city hall, cross the bridge Pont Marie by foot and reach the main street in the middle: Rue Saint Louis en L’ile.
If you go to your left, you will find at N° 29 the most famous ice-cream of Paris: Berthillon. It is a real institution for Parisians, since 1954 to taste some of their amazing flavors. Of course, all ice-creams are home made with natural fruits and ingredients. Don’t panic if you see lots of bars and restaurants offering Berthillon everywhere in the island: they are not copies. Berthillon use them as official retailers in order to supply all customers. So it’s the same ice-cream with same quality, maybe just less choice than in the original “boutique”.
On the same side, there is the only Church of the island, built in XVII century by Le Vaux.
Then you can make a u turn to go to the west extremity of the island. At N° 41, there’s a very good restaurant: Sergent Recruteur, with one star in Michelin guide. This former touristic restaurant has been transformed by notorious designer Jaime Hayon . However, the main appeal lies in the stunning creative cuisine created by Antonin Bonnet.
The extremity of the island is one of my favorite spots in Paris. If the weather is good, you must take something to drink (a bottle of wine bought after your session of Wine Tasting In Paris, for example) and go down the stairs on the lower dock. From here, you will have a fantastic view on the back of Notre Dame, the Seine river ,the bridges and the Hotel de Ville. With the sun set, it’s magical.