Exploring the Islands of Paris: Île de la Cité & Saint Louis

Crossing to Île Saint Louis

This pretty much marks the end of the sightseeing on Île de la Cité and we’re about to cross over to Île Saint Louis. The area on either side of the islands and on the bridge itself is home to a few excellent spots for people watching and street performers. Though the cafes are tourist hot spots, it’s all about the location. I’ve listed a few options on the map at the start of this post.  

Paris street performers
Paris sunny cafes
People sitting along the banks of the Seine paris

We’re now on the Île Saint Louis where it’s mostly time to relax and stroll around. There aren’t many historical sights to see here but you’ll have a great time just walking around. As I’ve mentioned, things are busy where the two islands meet but the further you’ll head down the main street, Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, the quieter things get. Along the way, you’ll see dozens of people queueing outside tiny ice cream shops – more on that soon.

Ice cream shops ile de la cite ile saint louis paris
Narrow alleys on ile de la cite il saint louis Paris

Another Romantic Spot in Paris

This part of the island is much more tranquil and you’ll find here a few reminders of the joie de vivre with the likes of your boulangeries, fromageries, and art galleries.


As I can’t resist the urge to visit old European churches, I headed inside the neighborhood cathedral – the Eglise Saint Louis en L’Ile. After visiting Notre Dame just a few minutes ago, it’s no big deal but still super impressive now that I look at the pictures.

Eglise Saint Louis en L'Ile Paris

The northeastern part of the island is by far the quietest and most romantic. I bet the homes here cost a fortune. The madness of big city life seems a world away though you’re reminded just by looking across the river. Paris on a sunny weekend brings everyone out and the banks of Seine are filled with Parisians catching some sun (and some even have a BBQ).

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romantic spot on ile saint louis paris
romantic spot on ile saint louis paris
romantic spot on ile saint louis paris

The Best Ice Cream in Paris

Since we’ve walked soooo much, it’s time to spoil ourselves before heading home. As I’ve mentioned before, it seems that Île Saint Louis is the capital of French ice cream. There are dozens of shops on the island with the biggest concentration along Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île. Most include the word berthillon in their name but there’s only one original Berthillon that’s regarded by many as the best ice cream in Paris (closed Monday & Tuesday). I must admit that I really didn’t feel like queueing after such a long day but I was so curious to find out what the big fuss is all about.

Berthillon best ice cream paris ile saint louis

So, the scoops are small but the I can understand what all the fuss is about. This is really good ice cream and you’ll find it challenging to pick which flavors you want ‘cause they all look so damn good! What a way to finish off our day of exploring the islands of Paris, Île de la Cité, and Île Saint Louis.

Got More Time?

If you’re up for more, you can also visit the trendy Marais neighborhood or at least see Paris’ impressive City Hall, the Hotel de Ville. On the other side of the river, you’ll find the Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin), which is one of the most interesting to explore. You can also just head to nearby Place Saint-Michel, which is always a happening spot or visit the dozens of seriously hardcore bookshops that are scattered around, like the legendary Shakespeare & Company.

Hotel de Ville Paris city hall

In Conclusion

Wow, what can I say? This was one of the best days I’ve had in Paris so far, right up there with my day of exploring the 7th arrondissement. What’s good about focusing your day on exploring the Paris islands of Île de la Cité and Île Saint Louis, is that it’s an itinerary that’s totally manageable. You have a great combination of romance, marvelous historical sights that you must see when visiting Paris, and the tranquility of strolling around in a little village.

What’s Next?

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