Paris Historic City Center: Latin Quarter & Ile de la Cité

By Viator, June 2014

4.5 798 Reviews | Add your review

Few cities are as steeped in history and culture as Paris, and there’s no better way to soak up the rich heritage of France’s capital than by wandering the labyrinth streets of its oldest districts, starting with the aptly named Ile de la Cité (Island of the City). One of two natural islands on the Seine River (along with the neighboring Ile St-Louis) and connected to both the Left and Right banks by the landmark Pont Neuf (New Bridge), the Ile de la Cité was the site of Paris’ oldest settlement, around the third century B.C, and later formed the core of medieval Paris. Today, it’s the heart of the historic city center and home to landmark sights such as the Sainte Chapelle Chapel, La Conciergerie, the Palais de Justice and the Holocaust Memorial.

The island’s undisputed star attraction is the Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, and climbing the 411 steps to the top of the bell tower is a favored pastime that offers spectacular views along the Seine, as well as the opportunity for a photo beside the cathedral’s centuries-old gargoyles. Like all of Paris’ top attractions, the UNESCO-listed cathedral draws huge crowds, and pre-booking skip-the-line tickets to climb the Notre Dame Cathedral Bell Towers is the best option for visitors, avoiding the hassle of what could be a two-hour long queue. For the full experience, pair your visit to Notre Dame with a small-group or private Historical Paris Sightseeing tour, skip-the-line tickets to the Louvre or a walking tour of the Ile de la Cité. If you’d like to dodge the crowds altogether, take an after-hours tour of Notre-Dame Cathedral, where you’ll have the rare opportunity to climb the bell tower after the crowds have disappeared, with the City of Light glittering beneath you. 

Another popular accompaniment to tours of the Ile de la Cité is one of the Latin Quarter, the cultural and creative center of Paris, located on the Left Bank opposite the island. Take a Latin Quarter walking tour and experience bohemian Paris, visiting the former homes of luminaries like Sigmund Freud, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, the beat poets and Jim Morrison, alongside sights like the prestigious Sorbonne University, the Conciergerie prison (where Marie Antoinette was held before her execution), the St. Etienne du Mont church and the lively Place St. Michel.

You could even pedal around the sights - a Heart of Paris Bike tour offers a choice of routes, either starting in the historic Marais and following the Seine River to the Louvre, or navigating the backstreets of the scenic Latin Quarter, followed by a tour of the neighboring Luxembourg Gardens and St Germain-des-Prés, home of the Paris fashion industry.

Tours & Tickets

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Bateaux Parisiens Seine River Cruise with Lunch and Live Music

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 94 Reviews

Treat yourself to an elegant lunch in Paris with this 2-hour afternoon sightseeing cruise down the Seine River. Aboard your Bateaux Parisiens boat, relax over ...  Read more

Location: Paris, France
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $66.78

Skip the Line: Notre Dame Cathedral, Tower and Ile de la Cite Half-Day Walking Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 449 Reviews

Skip the line to climb the Notre Dame Cathedral Bell Towers and explore 2000 years of tumultuous Parisian history from the dark ages to the City of Light. By ...  Read more

Location: Paris, France
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $39.62

Historical Paris Sightseeing Tour Including Notre Dame Cathedral

3.5 star rating: Worth doing 38 Reviews

Explore historical areas of Paris by coach and enjoy an in-depth visit to Notre Dame Cathedral on this fascinating sightseeing tour. See and learn about top ...  Read more

Location: Paris, France
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $71.31

After-Hours Tour of Notre-Dame Cathedral Towers

4.5 star rating: Recommended 25 Reviews

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to experience the towers of Paris’ famous Notre-Dame Cathedral after hours. When the daytime crowds dissipate and the towers ...  Read more

Location: Paris, France
Duration: 90 minutes (approx.)

From USD $39.62

Private Tour: Paris Historical Walking Tour and Skip-the-Line Louvre Museum with Guide

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 23 Reviews

Discover the fascinating history and picture-perfect beauty of Paris on this private walking tour led by an expert local guide. Starting on historic Île ...  Read more

Location: Paris, France
Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $236.58

Heart of Paris Bike Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 16 Reviews

Come and experience the sights and sounds of the Heart of the city on this Paris cycling tour through local streets. See the beautiful monuments and tourist ...  Read more

Location: Paris, France
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $39.62

Paris Latin Quarter Walking Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 153 Reviews

Discover the Latin Quarter's hidden secrets on an evening stroll through the legendary Left Bank district. This Paris neighborhood contains more history and ...  Read more

Location: Paris, France
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $22.64

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