Enjoy the secluded park of Vert Galant, planted on the sandbar that has built up around the Pont Neuf.
Its western end houses the famous cathedral of Notre Dame - but there’s plenty more history in Île de la Cité. Some scholars believe the island was the home of a small Gallic tribe in 52 BC. It’s not doubted that Romans settled there later: there’s a well-preserved Roman wall beneath the Parvis, the square in front of the cathedral.
Today, this ancient spot is still the heart of Paris. Like the Umbilicus urbis in the Roman Forum, a small bronze plaque marks the point in the square used to measure all distances from the city. A less crowded spot to pause is the nearby Place Dauphine, a lovely residential park built by Henry IV.
Tucked behind Notre Dame on the island’s eastern point is a stark and moving memorial to the French victims of Nazi deportation: 200,000 crystals are lit on dark, claustrophobic walls, each commemorating a single loss.
The Pont Neuf, completed in 1606, is the oldest bridge on the Seine, and has been a lively site in Paris for over 400 years. It is home to an impressive equestrian statue of Henry IV, who ordered its construction. Daguerre, inventor of the earliest photographic process, made a daguerreotype of the Pont Neuf which shows two workmen reclining beneath the king’s statue: possibly the first ever photograph of a human being.
Whatever you do, don’t overlook the colourful interior of the church of Sainte-Chapelle. Built by Louis IX in the 13th century, Sainte-Chapelle is a high point of Rayonnant Gothic style, and has perhaps the best stained-glass windows in town - as well as one of Christianity’s most important Passion relics, the crown of thorns worn by Christ.
Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.
Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.