Île de la Cité

This island in the middle of the River Seine is the historical heart of Paris.

TravelCurious Tip

Enjoy the secluded park of Vert Galant, planted on the sandbar that has built up around the Pont Neuf.

The isle of the city

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.


A new bridge

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.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Paris
Notre-Dame de Paris
Notre Dame, perched on an island in the heart of Paris, is one of the finest cathedrals in the world.
La Conciergerie
Once a royal residence, the Conciergerie became a prison during the French revolution, a notable prisoner being Marie-Antoinette.
Shakespeare and Co Bookshop
A legendary meeting place and boarding-house for many aspiring writers. Stocks everything from Shakespeare to Joyce.
St Julien le Pauvre
Built in 1165 at the same time as Notre-Dame, this is the oldest and most charming of churches in Paris.
Rue du Chat qui Peche
Considered the narrowest street in Paris with only 1.80mts wide for the whole of its 29mts.
Church of Saint Severin
It is one of the oldest churches that remains standing on the Left Bank of the Latin Quarter, and it continues in use as a place of worship.

Related Tours

Paris Je T'aime: Private Half-Day Highlights Walking Tour

During this fabulous four-hour walking tour of Paris, you will explore the most interesting and diverse central neighbourhoods the French capital has to offer. See the sights at your own pace and adapt your tour with your guide who will be happy to offer suggestions based on your preferences. 


On your private half-day highlights tour, you will:

  • Visit the historical heart of Paris, Île de la Cité;
  • Walk by the Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie, the former Parisian prison;
  • Explore the wonderful haunts of the Latin Quarter, just a short walk away;
  • Learn about Paris' home of intellectual thought and see where the May '68 revolution unfolded;
  • Visit the Tuileries Gardens, the Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Élysées;
  • Walk around the surroundings of the symbolic Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral;
  • End your walking tour at the stunning Pont Alexander III bridge.


Explore Île de la Cité, one of the two remaining natural islands in the Seine River, considered the historic heart of Paris.

The medieval city of Paris was refounded here with the magnificent Sainte-Chapelle and the former prison, the Conciergerie. While on Île de la Cité, you will have time to walk around the hauntingly beautiful Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral.

The Latin Quarter along the Left Bank was so named because, until the French Revolution, university students in the area spoke only Latin to their professors.

You will visit this famed neighbourhood to immerse yourself in the Parisian atmosphere of yesteryear, whilst exploring the medieval streets and meandering through fantastic shops like Shakespeare and Company bookshop, Place Saint-Michel, and its gorgeous fountain.

As the tour continues, you will learn little-known facts about the French Revolution. You will be exploring the beautiful Tuileries Gardens and the Place de la Concorde, the site at which Louis XVI was beheaded during the French Revolution. Whilst here, do not forget to look out for the magnificent Champs-Élysées, the most famous shopping avenue in the world.

Lastly, you will stop off at the Pont Alexander III, the most beautiful bridge in Paris, where you can enjoy a splendid view of the Eiffel Tower and beyond the majestic Seine. J’aime Paris.

Explore Paris in a Vintage Car: Private Half-Day Driving Tour

Experience the highlights of Paris, the City of Lights and romance on this fabulous half-day private driving tour in a vintage 2CV with your expert driver guide.

On your private tour, you will:

  • Drive around the monuments and neighbourhoods of Paris in a vintage car;
  • Cruise along the famous Champs Elysées Avenue towards the Arc de Triomphe;
  • Drive around Place de la Concorde, Les Invalides, Place Vendôme, Opera Garnier, the Musée d’Orsay, and the magnificent, still-standing, Cathedral de Notre Dame;
  • Stop off for panoramic views of the city at various points with views across the domes and monuments of Paris;
  • Take photos of the mighty Eiffel Tower at the best viewing platforms, and learn all about the most famous landmark of the city;
  • Stop outside the Louvre for some fabulous snaps of the Pyramid and the stunning French Renaissance palace, former home to the kings and queens of France;
  • Head up the hill to Montmartre, for wonderful panoramic views across the city;
  • Enjoy the final stop in Montmartre and see the beautiful Sacre Coeur basilica;
  • Wander through the bohemian, picturesque cobbled streets and artists' squares made famous by the Impressionists.
  • End your tour at a place of choice where your driver will drop you off.


Paris – the city of lights! What better way to tour this most romantic of cities than on a driving tour in a vintage 2CV!

On this half tour of Parisian highlights, you’ll be picked up and dropped off at locations of your choice, then begin with a drive up the Champs Elysees. Paris’s famous shopping avenue, named for the Elysian Fields, culminates with the iconic Arc de Triomphe, a monument to those who fought and died during the Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, and World Wars.

Drive to Opera Garnier (site of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ for more snaps, and then the stunning Place Vendôme, home of the Paris Ritz, featuring a monument to commemorate the victory at Austerlitz in 1805. You’ll drive around Place de la Concorde (the largest square in the city), with its obelisk marking the location of the guillotine, under which King Louis XVI was executed.

Drive along the river Seine and see the beautiful Musée d’Orsay, a former train station turned art gallery, and of course, stop by the Louvre. The former royal palace of the French royals, with its modern glass pyramid and largest, is the grandest museum in Paris.

Explore the wonders of the Latin Quarter, where Hemingway lived, and be famed for its university and the Paris Pantheon. Stand in awe at the gothic masterpiece that is Notre Dame Cathedral – still standing despite the raging fire of 2019. See also the Conciergerie – a former palace, turned jail of the Revolution and today it is still the Paris judiciary.

Take in the outside beauty of Sainte Chappelle (featuring the most impressive stained glass windows in the world). Then, visit the quintessentially French Trocadero where you will have the opportunity to snap some beautiful photos and catch some great views of the world-famous Eiffel Tower.

To conclude this epic tour of the great city of Paris you will head up the hill to Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur Basilica that looks over the city. Here, you’ll be able to stroll along the cobbled streets of this most colourful and bohemian of neighbourhoods, where you will learn more about the fascinating life and works of Renoir, Picasso, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, all of whom lived and worked here. The perfect way to experience the city if you have limited time, and also a great way to find out what to focus on for the rest of your trip.

Tours can be adapted to suit your needs and interests – just get in contact with us!

All Inclusive Paris: Full-Day Walking tour with the Eiffel Tower

Uncover the history and art of the quintessentially Parisian neighbourhoods on this tour, your all-inclusive tour includes tickets to the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and a river cruise.

On your full-day private tour, you will:

  • Meet your private guide outside the Louvre Museum to begin your tour;
  • See the unmissable attractions of the Louvre, including the Mona Lisa, The Coronation of Napoleon, and Venus de Milo;
  • Wander through Le Marais – the quintessentially Pre-Revolutionary Parisian neighbourhood – where you will enjoy lunch at your leisure (paid for locally by guests)
  • See the highlights of the city centre, including Île de la Cité, the Palais de Justice, and Notre Dame Cathedral;
  • Hop aboard a relaxing river cruise to enjoy the city from the ease of the Seine;
  • Learn about the Eiffel Tower with your guide, then take the lift to the 2nd floor and visit the tower at your own pace (tickets included)

 
Originally one of France’s most lavish royal palaces, and home to some of the most ostentatious Kings of France, the Louvre has fast become the world's most impressive and influential museum of art in the world and is an absolute must for anyone with an interest in art. Your private licensed guide will take you through one of the most expansive and beautiful art collections in the world, where you will see some of the museum’s greatest works that span from 450 BCE to the 19th century, along with several of its lesser-known treasures.

From the museum, your guide will take you to a neighbourhood which truly evokes the ‘je ne sais quoi’ of Parisian nostalgia, where you will see the magnificent Hotel De Ville – the city’s seat of government for over 600 years. Enjoy lunch at your own pace in Le Marais, with recommendations from your guide on the best place to indulge in the local cuisine of your choosing.
Step onto a riverboat to enjoy the magic of the city from the Seine – the geography around which the entire city has been built for thousands of years.

Learn more about the city’s modernization efforts in the 19th century, which brought gas lanterns, parks, sewage systems, schools, and hospitals to the city. Your tour concludes at the city’s most iconic site: the Eiffel Tower, where you will enjoy lift tickets to the second story. Your guide will be sure to give you dinner recommendations before leaving you to marvel at the spectacular panoramic views of the city.

Please note that the "Liberty Leading the People" will be under restoration until further notice.
Île de la Cité, Latin Quarter & Seine River Cruise: Private Tour

Embark on a private introductory tour of Paris and explore the Île de la Cité and the Latin Quarter, two iconic Parisian neighbourhoods and enjoy a Seine Cruise for amazing views of the city from the water.

On your private tour, you will:

  • Hear the founding stories of Paris and France - from the fall of Rome to the rise of the French kings, where it all happened on the Île de la Cité;
  • Explore the rich medieval history of Paris and the beautiful Gothic architecture on the island and through the Latin Quarter;
  • Learn the history and epic survival story of the iconic Notre Dame cathedral - the world's most famous Gothic cathedral;
  • Stroll around the Conciergerie, the medieval castle of the French kings;
  • Hear how King Louis IX built the Sainte Chapelle, purchased the Crown of Thorns, and became a saint;
  • Learn how the royal castle became a royal prison during the bloody French Revolution;
  • See where the revolutionary trials took place outside the Palais du Justice;
  • Explore the vibrant neighbourhood of the Latin Quarter - famed for its quirky streets, thriving nightlife, and gothic churches;
  • Hear about the history of the area from the founding of the Sorbonne, the second oldest university in Europe to the student riots;
  • Walk into Shakespeare and Co the bookshop and learn about the Lost Generation in Paris: Gertrude Stein, Orwell, Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald;
  • End your tour with a one-hour panoramic River Cruise on the Seine, with great views of the Louvre and Eiffel Tower.


This is a fascinating introduction and orientation tour of Paris. The Île de la Cité in the middle of the Seine is where the story of Paris, and the history of France truly begins.

Begin the walking portion of your tour at the statue of Henry IV on the Pont Neuf - the oldest bridge in Paris, that crosses onto the Île de la Cité and discover the history of the French Kings as you walk around their medieval castle, the Conciergerie - and learn how it became their brutal prison during the dark days of the Revolution.

Learn all about the French Revolution and its most infamous execution machine, the Guillotine as you stand outside the gates of the Palais du Justice, the courts where all the trials took place.

Admire the Gothic front of Notre Dame - and learn about its incredible 900-year history - as well as its survival during the fire of 2019, before walking off the island, into the Latin Quarter, an historical and vibrant area famed for its gothic churches, the Sorbonne university, and its fun nightlife, with a plethora of jazz bars and eateries.

Visit historical bookshops, once frequented by the likes of Hemingway and Orwell, and explore an area that is renowned for being the starting point of the May 68' Revolution as well as the home of French intellectual thought.


Next, take in the amazing sights of Paris on a return cruise down the River Seine. See the famous landmarks of Paris from the river like the Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum, and the Eiffel Tower to name just a few! Your one-hour cruise ends back at the Pont Neuf.

Important: This tour includes a 2-hour private guided walking tour followed by a 1-hour river cruise with onboard commentary on your own. Your tour guide will walk you to the cruise docking point where they will part ways with you. You can choose to take the cruise at the end of the tour or later during your stay.
Paris by Night: Private Walking Tour including Seine River Cruise

Experience the magic of the City of Lights with an evening walk through the most romantic areas of Paris: the medieval Île de la Cité and the Latin Quarter. Take a relaxing and scenic cruise ride along the River Seine with fabulous photo opportunities of famous Parisian landmarks including the Eiffel Tower lit up at night.

On your private tour you will:

  • Visit two of the city's most beautiful and romantic neighbourhoods;
  • Explore the famous sites on Île de la Cité where French history began;
  • See the Revolutionary Palais du Justice and the Conciergerie Palace former home of the French Kings; 
  • Hear about the terrifying trial and final days of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette;
  • Admire the magnificent Gothic facade of Notre Dame - still standing after the terrible fire of 2019;
  • Wander through the trendy Latin Quarter - made famous by the 'Lost Generation' of Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway;
  • Learn about the famous bookshop Shakespeare & Co
  • See the Sorbonne University and peer inside some of the oldest Gothic churches in Paris like Saint Severin;
  • End your guided tour back on Ile de La Cite, where your guide will give you your Seine Cruise tickets;
  • Travel down the Seine by river cruise
  • See the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, or choose any other time you like with your open tickets.


Enjoy a magical tour of central medieval Paris lit up at night! Begin by the statue of Good King Henry on the Pont Neuf and follow your expert private guide around the Île de la Cité.

This island, in the middle of the Seine, holds the founding history of Paris and France itself: it is where a Celtic tribe called the Parisi first settled, and later Clovis King of the Franks won after the fall of Rome. Learn the history of the French Kings and Queens as you gaze across to the Louvre Palace, beautifully lit at night, and walk through Place Dauphine.

Admire some Napoleonic decorations to the Palais du Justice, and hear about some of his greatest achievements, and epic losses. As you walk around this stunning beautifully lighted medieval castle, you'll learn that it was once the home of the French Kings - and later became their prison during the Revolution. Hear about the trials, both fair and foul, and decide for yourself if Marie Antoinette was as guilty as she is painted.

Admire the exquisite Gothic facade of Notre Dame - always stunningly lit up at night and hear of its extraordinary history -and survival.

Walk around the trendy, artsy and vibrant Latin Quarter - famous for its plethora of Gothic churches, the Sorbonne University - which gives it its name as Latin was the language of Academia in the middle ages! Pass by famous the Jazz clubs on Rue de la Huchette, and the bars and cafes and bookshops - like Shakespeare and Co - that were frequented by members of the Lost Generation like Hemingway, Orwell and Gertrude Stein.

Finally, return to the Pont Neuf where your guide will leave you to enjoy a romantic evening river cruise along the Seine. This is a wonderful way to see the great monuments of Paris lit up - including the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, and of course the piece de resistance: the Eiffel Tower!

Important: This tour includes a 2-hour private guided walking tour followed by a 1-hour river cruise with onboard commentary on your own. Your tour guide will walk you to the cruise docking point where they will part ways with you. You can choose to take the cruise at the end of the tour or later during your stay.
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