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What are the Two Islands in Paris?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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The city of Paris, France, is intersected by the Seine river. The river is a major tourist attraction as well as a central feature of the city, which was originally broken up across many islands. Centuries of construction and fill joined most of them to the mainland, which the exception of two, Ile St. Louis and Ile de la Citie. Both are popular stops on sightseeing tours of Paris, and are well worth a visit. Tourists should plan on spending a few hours on each, as there is a great deal of territory to explore.

Ile St. Louis is a traditional refuge of the Parisian upper classes. Many artists and other bohemians found their way there as well, including famous figures such as Hemingway, and it is covered in examples of 17th century architecture. Many shops and boutiques including the flagship store of Berthillion, the most famous ice cream makers in Paris, can be found on Ile St. Louis. Visitors often remark on the peaceful and beautiful environment, which is only a stone's throw away from chaotic and often fast paced Paris.

Ile de le Citie is often called the heart of Paris, and in fact, a small bronze marker near Notre Dame marks the official center of the city. It was occupied by many different peoples historically, as Paris was settled and built up, and many of the famous features of Paris can be found on it, including Notre Dame de Paris, Sainte Chapelle, and the Palais de Justice. The island has long been at the administrative and religious heart of Paris, and wandering it is an excellent way to spend an afternoon.

Both of the islands in Paris are accessible by walking and public transit. Ile St. Louis has lodging options that put visitors in a location convenient to many Paris attractions, and places to stay are also available in the surrounding area. Walking and busing are heavily recommended in Paris, which has an abundant population of cars, especially in the center of the city. Both islands have a lot to offer visitors, especially those who are willing to devote some time to experiencing them.

In addition to exploring the islands on their own, some tourists prefer to use a guided tour so that they do not miss important landmarks and interesting facts. Many of these tours are conducted on foot at a leisurely pace, allowing participants to drink in the environment. Information about tours can be acquired from a hotel concierge, who may also be able to offer additional advice about places to eat and visit during a tourist's stay in Paris.

WiseTour is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseTour researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By KoiwiGal — On Aug 19, 2012

@pastanaga - I guess it depends on what people want to see. When I make my list of things I want to see, art museums are usually at the top and I'll admit that they don't always describe the character of a place very well. But next are gardens, which are marvelous for that, and places like famous bookshops and so forth.

I always walk from place to place if I can, or take local transport. And I try not to see too much, because if I'm exhausted then it's not going to be much fun.

I would definitely recommend that you stick to the islands of Paris at first if you've never been there before, but do wander off if the inclination hits you. Maybe take one of those free tours that are offered there as they are a really good way to get orientated and are usually run by someone who knows the city very well.

By pastanaga — On Aug 19, 2012

@Iluviaporos - Actually I don't think people should try to fit in everything when they visit a city, particularly one like Paris where there is just so much to see. If you dash from place to place, you end up without truly learning the spirit of your surroundings.

I would stick to one of the islands, in fact, since both of them have so much to see and they each have a very distinct character. If you run back and forth around the city, trying to see a bunch of different sights, you might end up with a memory of Paris that consists of a series of museum exhibits rather than of moments along the Seine, in one of the greatest cities in the world.

By lluviaporos — On Aug 18, 2012

There is so much to see in Paris, it's worthwhile planning out your visit so that you don't miss anything that you would really appreciate. Unfortunately, the city is just so dense with remarkable things, you won't be able to see everything, but at least it will always surprise you.

Most guidebooks have a sample itinerary depending on how long you're planning to be in Paris. You can then refine these to suit your own needs. It's definitely worth getting decent accommodation, possibly on Ile St. Louis so that you will be looked after and can see as many sights as you want.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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