The Paris islands are sure to be a memorable part of your trip to Paris. You'll have amazing photo opportunities as you stroll along the Seine or take a river tour through the city, and the islands are home to some of the oldest parts of the city, making them a great place to stop for anyone interested in the area's history. Opportunities for seeing the Paris islands include boat tours, walking tours, and even balloon tours.
Ile de la Cite
Ile de la Cite Image: D&S McSpadden (flickr)
Among the Seine islands, two are natural and one is manmade. The Ile de la Cite is the largest of the three and is the location of the oldest parts of medieval Paris. It has an upbeat atmopshere, being a busylocation with numerous shops, restaurants, and cafes lining the streets and offering visitors the chance to try local food and buy souvenirs such as books, paintings, and antiques. For a quiet place to relax, the Place Dauphine is a lovely public park setting near the ancient Pont Neuf, which crosses the river and connects the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) and the Right Bank (Rive Droite). The main attraction on the island is the Notre Dame Cathedral, meaning many locals and tourists converge on the area for photo sessions and to take a tour of the massive Gothic church, which is a work of art both inside and out.
Ile Saint Louis
Ile Saint Louis Image: dalbera (flickr)
Ile Saint Louis is the second of the two natural Paris islands. This small isle retains a quaint atmosphere of a French village of times past. Unlike the Ile de la Cite, Ile Saint Louis has remained virtually untouched over the years. Travelers will find open markets, fresh bakeries, sidewalk bistros and cafes, and interesting sthops and boutiques along the island. There are also handcrafted items for sale and the chance to try the authentic Berthillon ice cream that originated here. A bridge connects Ile Saint Louis to its sister island, and at all hours of the day street performers such as mimes, jugglers, and musicians entertain travelers as they make their way between the two islands. While on Ile Saint Louis, be sure to stop at the Saint Louis en l'Ille Church, originally built in 1622. Its decorative wooden door and interior are well worth a visit.
Ile des Cygnes
The Ile des Cygnes is a small, artificial island created in 1827 to protect the port of Grenelle. The three bridges that connect the island to the rest of the city are the Pont de Grenelle, the Pont Rouelle, and the Pont de Bir-Hakeim. The Ile des Cygnes, whose name means Isle of the Swans, is less than 3,000 feet long and features a tree-lined sidewalk extending from one end of the island to the other. Situated on this island is a replica of the Statue of Liberty. This statue faces west, toward its sister in New York, and behind it, you can see the Eiffel Tower.
For an opportunity to stay at one of the best romantic Paris hotels, make your vacation reservations at the Hotel du Jeu de Paume located on Ile Saint Louis. The four-star hotel exudes history, atmosphere, and romance. Within walking distance of Notre Dame and the Opera Bastille, the hotel is in a quiet setting without the hustle and bustle of Paris yet convenient to all districts of the city.
Transportation to the islands is easily available by bus. Ile de la Cite and Ile des Cygnes are served by the Metro system, and an option for sightseeing along the rivers and canals is to take a tour on the Batobus River Cruise line, which allows travelers to hop on and hop off at eight different stops from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, ensuring easy access to the best of the city's attractions.