Just east of the magnificent buttresses of the Cathédrale Notre Dame, across the Pont Saint-Louis, lies an island sanctuary in the middle of this chic, bustling city: Île Saint-Louis. The one-way streets are narrow, with views of the Seine River on either side; and though mostly residential, the stone laid streets are lined with flower shops, cafés and chocolate shops, all with their own delightful character. Truly in the city's center and one of the only two islands in Paris, Île Saint-Louis is an ideal spot to stroll, take in the views of Notre Dame, grab an ice cream and watch the boats drift by on the Seine.
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The Delights of I'le Saint Louis...
When deciding where to stay on my first two week trip to Paris, I had some very stringent criteria. I wanted the local experience and felt that a flat was more likely to offer that. So I eagerly began my search for something in a very safe and central location.
When I spotted such a flat on I'le Saint Loius, I was sold. The island is located in the middle of the Seine and just across the bridge from I'le de la Cite, the very center of Paris. I'le Saint Louis is the perfect location to explore all the wonders of Paris.
What I didn't expect was the wonderful small village charm of the island. You can literally find almost everything you need on this tiny piece of real estate.
Patisseries, boulangeries and fromageries abound. There are dozens of boutiques, cafes, creperies and bistros. The plethora of ice cream and gelato stores is enough to put one into a diabetic coma. The island even boasts its own exquisite church and the tiny colorful florist shop above.
I'le Saint Louis became my home away from home for two glorious weeks, while I lived my Parisian dream. For two weeks I lived among both locals and tourists and came to know the shopkeepers by name. I have no doubt that staying on this little piece of heaven made my trip a more memorable one... It could do the same for you.
The smaller ile Saint-Louis in Paris has less foot traffic and more character than the neighboring ile de la Cite in the Seine River. The narrow streets, residential buildings, and charming coffee shops create a calm environment away from the tourist scene.
Visitors often overlook the quaint island just steps away from Notre Dame Cathedral. It's easily accessible by bridges from both the left and right banks. Most people use the small bridge located right behind Notre Dame.
This tiny island provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city of Paris. Its charm lies in the fact that it is home to no major 'attractions' and instead simply provides a village atmosphere.
Have a look around at the grand townhouses before you leave as this is one of the most exclusive areas to live in all of Paris.
The island is a great place to buy gifts. Its adorable specialty shops sell everything from art to cheese to organic French wine. If you're a fan of champagne, you simply must visit Dilettantes. Here you can sample small artisan Champagnes in an underground tasting cavern where you will get a real education in bubbles. If the sparkling stuff isn't your thing, do a tasting at L'Etiquette where the quirky owner will teach you all about why organic wine is superior to conventional wine.
You also must try Berthillon Glacier, the island's most famous ice cream shop. We highly recommend the salted caramel! Probably the best ice cream I had all year!
Summer in Pars: toy boats dally in park fountains, birds whistle, tourist swarm like bees—let’s cut to the chase. Now that it’s finally hot out, where should you go for the city’s best ice cream? Head to Île Saint Louis, where nearly every café on the island outsources glâce from the infamous Maison Berthillon. Skip the long lines and standard flavors (chocolate, pistachio…) near the Pont Saint-Louis. Instead, head down the main drag to the heart of the island, where you’ll find my favorite scoopers in the take-out window of Pom’Cannelle and at the bright pink cart outside L’Ile Flottante. With menus three times the size, choose between flavors like Framboise à la Rose (raspberry rose), Praliné Pignons (nutty praline with pine nut pieces), Chocolat Mendiant (“beggar’s” chocolate) or my personal favorite, the Pain d’Epices, a spiced honey-bread flavor with chunks of the cakey loaf scattered throughout. One lick will take you back to winter, and I much prefer Christmas in July.
Pom’Cannelle, 27 rue des Deux Ponts, 33/(0) 1-4634-6859, L’Île Flottante, 31 rue des Deux Ponts, 33/(0) 1-4354-69 75