The Ile St Louis has it all when it comes to finding a very special and unique area to base yourself in Paris. Even forgetting about the sheer luxury of enjoying an evening glass of wine on the wrought iron balcony of an exquisite 17th century building overlooking the Seine, there are many practical advantages as well. Situated between the Ile de la Cité at one end, the Marais on the Right Bank, and the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank, the Ile St Louis is an ideal base from which to explore the city, with the magnificent landmarks of Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, the Louvre Museum and the Pompidou Centre all within a short walk.
The Ile St Louis dates right back to the beginnings of Paris around 250 BC, when it was founded by boatmen and traders, then neglected and largely uninhabited until the late 16thCentury. It was around the early 17th century, when it was recognized as a desirable place to live, and architects designing for the noble class created the beautiful and very distinctive Hôtels Particuliers which epitomize the ‘Grand Siècle’, and which, along with its charming village atmosphere, still enchant visitors today. Unlike many other areas of Paris, on the Ile St Louis, you can actually find most of the local shops and services you will need during your stay within a very small area, or even in just the one street, which is the Rue St Louis en l’Ile, the main road which runs right across the island. Here you will find pharmacies, a post office, a news stand, banks, a florist, a hairdressing salon, three bakeries, a patisserie, grocery stores, wine shops, cheese shops and art galleries, as well as small specialty shops selling everything from ethnic clothing stores and jewellery, to toys and books.
For any stay in Paris, food always features largely on the agenda, and the Ile St Louis has more than its fair share of dining options. These range from crêperies and bistros serving simple fare, to restaurants offering fine dining, and even a Japanese sushi Bar, as well as the famous Berthillon, for indulging in as good an ice cream as you will find anywhere!
Some of our favourite finds, which we return to over and over again, include:
A cosy and atmosphere- filled historic café, offering a really excellent brunch! Open all day and offering a great variety of other meals, and house specialities.
6 Rue Jean du Bellay, Ile St Louis,75004, Tel. 01 43 54 59 41.
Open from 7 a.m. until 2 a.m., this charming restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, pastries and ice cream (Berthillon of course!) in a lovely terrace setting overlooking Notre Dame.
42 Quai d’Orleans, Ile St Louis, 75004. Tel: 01 43 29 88 27
Situated right in the centre of the island on the Rue St Louis en l’Ile, and offering traditional French cuisine for both lunch and dinner. Popular for its warm, authentic atmosphere as well as its menu.
30 Rue St Louis en l’Ile, Ile Saint Louis. 75004 Tel: 01.46.33.07.87
Originally owned by the ‘Nouvelle Vague’ actor, Jean-Claude Brialy, this very special restaurant, pays homage to its cinematic origins by projecting old movies on screens on the walls. The menu is imaginative and sophisticated, and highly recommended.
28 rue St Louis en l’Ile, 75004. Tel: 01 46 33 93 98
A recently restored one bedroom apartment, situated on the first floor of an imposing 17thCentury building in the Rue des Deux Ponts. The light-filled living area is open-plan, giving a great feeling of space,and has been furnished in a tasteful, modern style. The bedroom overlooks a quiet courtyard.
Entrance to this beautiful 17th century building is via a small courtyard and up two flights of stairs. The entrance hall leads to the elegant and light-filled salon, with high ceilings and tall windows, crystal chandeliers and 18th century antique furniture. A window also opens to a private balcony overlooking the Seine river. The dining room, with a Louis XVI style table and a marble fireplace, opens to the same private balcony as the salon.
This apartment is right next door to a stunning studio apartment Quai d’Orléans 2, and rented together provide an exceptional three bedroom apartment, with 165 m2 of living space.
The apartment is on the third floor of a 17th century town house. Located on the third floor, it is reached via an impressive grand staircase with wrought iron detailing and black and white stone tiles. Large windows on both sides of the apartment offer views of the Seine River, and historical monuments, such as Saint Gervais church and the City Hall. French doors lead out from the living area to a sunny terrace with sun loungers, and a table and chairs perfect for lunches or romantic dinners.