Visit the Ile de la Cité from our hotel in Paris 15
Categories : Discover Paris, published on : 7/6/23
At the heart of the capital, the Ile de la Cité is a must-see when visiting Paris. And while it's best known for Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, this little island in the middle of the Seine has many other surprises in store. To discover the secrets of the Ile de la Cité, the Hôtel Bleu de Grenelle is ideally located in the 15th arrondissement.
The origins of the Île de la Cité
The Ile de la Cité, as its name suggests, is a small natural island in the heart of the Seine, straddling the 1st and 4th arrondissements of Paris. It serves as a kind of junction between the left and right banks of Paris, which can be reached via various bridges, the best known of which are undoubtedly the Pont Neuf and the Pont Saint-Louis.
The Ile de la Cité is considered the ancient cradle of Paris, as the city's earliest archaeological discoveries lead us here to remains dating back to Antiquity. The island is also home to the oldest monument in Paris, Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Good to know: just off the island is a second, smaller islet, named after King Louis IX: Île Saint-Louis.
The riches of the Ile de la Cité
From the Hôtel Bleu de Grenelle, you can take the Paris metro to the Ile de la Cité in less than 15 minutes. You'll then have plenty of time to discover the island's sites, from the most essential to the most unusual.
The Martyrs of the Deportation Memorial
At the tip of the island, the Martyrs de la Déportation memorial has stood since 1962 in a pretty square decorated with rose bushes. It was here that architect Georges-Henri Pingusson designed this powerful monument, in memory of the deportees from France who suffered horror during the Second World War. The crypt conceals the tomb of the unknown deportee, and urns containing ashes and soil from the Nazi camps are on display.
Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral
Arriving at the forecourt of the medieval cathedral of Notre-Dame is still a thrill. Over 850 years old, this masterpiece of Gothic architecture dominates the island, with its 69-metre-high towers. The most-visited historic monument in Paris, the cathedral's astonishing size and architecture include chimeras and gargoyles. Unfortunately, the cathedral was partially destroyed by fire in 2019. Since then, renovation work has prevented public access, but it is still possible to visit the exterior.
The archaeological crypt on the Île de la Cité
Beneath the forecourt of Notre-Dame, you'll find the archaeological crypt of the Ile de la Cité. This Paris museum takes you on a journey spanning dozens of centuries, from Antiquity to the 20th century, to discover the history of the island. You'll learn about its various architectural and urban evolutions, through archaeological remains discovered during excavations dating back to the late 1960s.
Queen Elizabeth II Flower Market
The Queen Elizabeth 2 Flower Market is held every Sunday near the cathedral. Since 1808, this specialized market has been bringing color to Paris. Today, 13 independent stores offer hundreds of varieties of flowers, from the best-known to the most exotic, to the delight of passers-by, who revel in the colors and fragrances.
Good to know: for a long time, it was accompanied by the bird market, but since 2023, the sale of birds has been banned.
The Clock Tower and the Conciergerie
Overlooking the Seine, close to the Palais de Justice de Paris, the Tour de l'Horloge was built in the 14th century. It was the first public clock in Paris, and continues to tell passers-by the exact time. The Conciergerie is the former residence of the medieval kings of France (10th to 14th centuries). When the French sovereigns decided to move into the Louvre palace in 1360, the Conciergerie became a court of justice. It was also a prison, and it was here that Queen Marie-Antoinette was held until her execution during the French Revolution.
Behind the Palais de la Cité, the Sainte-Chapelle is a religious monument consisting of a lower and an upper chapel, admired for its stained glass windows. But what really attracts visitors to this 1248 chapel are the treasures it houses, including the Holy Crown of Thorns and a piece of the True Cross.
At the very tip of the Ile de la Cité, Place Dauphine is one of the most charming squares in Paris. Sheltered from the hustle and bustle of Parisian life, its 17th-century architecture is a delight. Although it has often been modified, it retains its picturesque setting, with arcaded stores and brick facades. In the shade of the trees, regulars enjoy a game of pétanque, or a drink on the terraces of the bars and restaurants that line the street.
Le Pont Neuf
Contrary to its name, the Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris. The first stone of this innovative bridge was laid in 1578. In fact, it was the first bridge not to include a dwelling or store, but above all it was the first to be equipped with a water pump, the Samaritaine, which supplied the Louvre palace and the Tuileries gardens.
In terms of architecture, the Pont Neuf is best recognized by its elegant statue of King Henri IV, seated on his horse and looking towards the Place Dauphine.
Le square du Vert-Galant
In the historic heart of Paris, the Square du Vert-Galant is a little haven of peace, offering a breathtaking view of the Louvre Museum, the Institut de France and the Passerelle des Arts. It's also from here that you can admire the mascarons of the Pont Neuf. This ecological green space was originally created as a tribute to King Henri IV and his many mistresses. Today, the flora and fauna of this historic square provide the ideal setting for a leisurely stroll or picnic.
L'hôtel Bleu de Grenelle, your room near Paris's finest monuments
The Bleu de Grenelle boutique hotel is the ideal place to recharge your batteries between visits to the narrow streets and grand avenues of Paris. Just a stone's throw from the Eiffel Tower, you'll find yourself in a warm, modern establishment, with 57 rooms to suit all tastes and budgets, for an unforgettable stay.
All the services on offer allow you to spend a relaxing moment, before setting off on a beautiful tour on foot or by public transport near the main attractions and architectural gems of the city of Paris.
Like a small island of calm and greenery, the Ile de la Cité is actually the historic heart of Paris. Book your room now at the Hôtel Bleu de Grenelle to discover all the treasures of this little Parisian haven of peace.