One of only two Seine islands in Paris (the other is the neighboring Île de la Cité), Île Saint-Louis is a tranquil oasis in the city center. Among the first parts of the city to be organized by modern urban planning works during the 17th century, the island is known for its scenic quays, elegant residences, and unhurried pace.
Originally used for cattle grazing, Île Saint-Louis was formally developed under the orders of King Louis XIII in the early 17th century. Connected to the Left and Right Banks by four bridges (the Pont de la Tournelle, the Pont Marie, the Pont Sully, and the Pont Louis-Philippe) and to Île de la Cité by the Pont Saint-Louis, the island is at once easily accessible but also an unspoiled slice of historical Paris. Long a retreat for the city’s wealthy, Île Saint-Louis still retains its aristocratic allure, and its narrow streets and traditional buildings make it a tranquil place to stroll.
Walking and bike tours are an excellent way to soak up the peaceful atmosphere and admire views of the UNESCO-listed Banks of the Seine and neighboring Notre Dame (located on the eastern edge of Île de la Cité). Seine River cruises also reveal another picturesque perspective on the island.
Things to Know Before You Go
- For a glimpse of Île Saint-Louis’ glamorous past, seek out grandiose mansions like the Hôtel Lambert and the Hôtel de Lauzun, both built in the 17th century.
- The island’s main thoroughfare, rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, is home to numerous boutiques and cafes.
- As the island is just 1,772 feet (540 meters) long, it’s easily seen on foot.
How to Get There
The centrally located Île Saint-Louis is accessible by Métro line 7, which stops at the nearby Sully-Morland and Pont Marie stations. Bus lines 24, 63, 67, 87, and 88 also stop nearby. Amblers can reach the island by crossing one of several bridges that connect it to the Left and Right Banks.
When to Get There
Like any Paris neighborhood, Île Saint-Louis is a destination that appeals in all four seasons. As with the rest of the city, it is at its quietest during August, when many Parisians leave for a multi-week holiday; expect many of its shops, restaurants, and cafes to be closed during the grandes vacances.
Though Île Saint-Louis is primarily a residential area, one of its top highlights is Berthillon: a luxury ice cream parlor that has operated here since the 1950s. This is a Paris cult classic, and getting a scoop is a must on any visit to the island.