Île-Saint-Louis as viewed from Pont de la Tournelle which connects the island's center to the rive gauche, V ème arrondissement, et le quartier Latin.
Louis la Vache gave you une petite histoire de l'Île-de-la-Cité. Aujord'hui
, Louis will give you une petite histoire de l'Île-Saint-Louis
, the smaller of the two islands in la Seine
. You've already visited Île-Saint-Louis
with Paris Perspectives
and a Photo History of Île-Saint-Louis
and Île-Saint-Louis Doorways
, but Louis gave you little of the history of the island in those posts.
is Paris as its wealthier quartiers
looked in the XVII et XVIII ème siecles
. Pretty, elegant, narrow streets, dignified residences with picturesque interior courtyards, like in the Marais just across the river on the rive droit
, describe the island. L'Île Saint-Louis
is an oasis of peace in the middle of this busy city. It is really a privilege for Parisians to live here. The island has retained a small village feel. Hôtels
, mansions, from the XVII et XVIII ème siecles
with plastered façades are inserted between other hôtels
with beautiful stone fronts and majestic doorways. Balconies on the quai-side hôtels
offer splendid views of la Seine
. Here you have the immense satisfaction of loitering in the old streets, admiring sculptures and iron wrought trim on the homes, or of window shopping in the boutiques on the west end of rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île
Cobbled together from two smaller islands, Île-Saint-Louis was planned by Henri IV.
As small as Île Saint-Louis
is, it was in fact cobbled together from two isles: Île-aux-Vaches
, ("cow island"- Louis la Vache likes this idea!), where, indeed, cows once grazed, and the larger Île-Nôtre-Dame
, which belonged to the canon of la cathédrale-de-Nôtre-Dame
The two smaller islands were united in the XVII ème siecle
. As part of his renewal of Paris, Henri IV
had plans drawn to unite the two islands. Those plans included the streets configured as we know them today. After Henri's assassination in 1610, the work was completed under Louis XIII. The arm of la Seine
separating the two islands was filled in. A bridge, le pont Marie
, named after the unlikely-last-named contractor who did the work, connected the new island to the rest both sides of the city. The resulting larger island, named for Louis IX, Saint Louis, who built la Sainte-Chapelle
on neighboring Île-de-la-Cité
, became the jewel of Paris.
Architects Louis and Francois le Vau made a fortune by selling houses to the wealthy nobility and bourgeoisie. Examples include l'hôtel de Lauzun
, built in 1657 (17, quai d’Anjou), the only hôtel particulier
of that epoch open to the public. Baudelaire and Theophile Gauthier lived there. L'hôtel Lambert
(2, rue St.Lambert-en-l’Ile), perhaps the most beautiful on Île Saint Louis
, is now the residence of Guy de Rothschild. L'hôtel de Jasson
(19, quai de Bourbon) was inhabited for a while by Camille Claudel, the mistress of Rodin
. Other nice houses in the quai de Bourbon: numero 11, l'hôtel de Champaigne
, who was a French painter, and numero 15, l'hôtel de Charron
built in 1637, which has an interesting courtyard. Let’s not forget the famous hôtel de Comans
(16-18, quai de Bethune) which was once the residence of the duke of Richelieu, a nephew of the famous cardinal.
Marie Curie and former Président
Georges Pompidou lived on Île-Saint-Louis
Two famous former residents of Île-Saint-Louis.
Stroll along all these streets, les quais d’Anjou, de Bethune, de Bourbon, d’Orleans; rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île
, be charmed by their quiet magnificence and forget your stress and your worries. Enter l'église-Saint-Louis-en-l’Île
, built in 1644 in the street of the same name. L'église
is full ofXVII et XVIII ème siecle
masterpieces. At numero 61
is restaurant Aux Anysetiers du Roi
with its ancient signboard.
The island's main street, rue-de-Saint-Louis-en-l'Île
, features wonderful specialty boutiques and shops. There is a delightful shop that sells hand-made costume masks imported from Venice. There are several boulangeries et fromageries
and a fabulous chocolate shop. One shop specializes in spices; the aroma wafts pleasantly into the street. Another boutique
offers hand-made marionettes
- real puppets, not sock puppets! The whole island retains its XVIII ème siecle
atmosphere. Never cheap, recently, Île-Saint-Louis
has become even more fashionable and consequently expensive.
The most famous shop on the island is Berthillon, the best French ice-cream maker, at 31, rue-Saint-Louis-en-l'Île
. Berthillon is owned and operated by the Chauvin family, descendants of the eponymous Monsieur Berthillon, who opened the store in 1954. Berthillon sells its ice cream in bulk and by the scoop from its shop on the island, but many other retailers in Paris sell its ice cream in cones. Les glaces de Berthillon
derive their fame in part from the use of natural ingredients with no chemical preservatives, sweeteners or stabilizers and from the intensity of the flavors. Louis la Vache has never had glace
as good as that of Berthillon.
There is ALWAYS a line at Berthillon, but especially in the summer.
At the western tip of the island is pont Saint-Louis
, the small bridge that connects Île-Saint-Louis
. On weekends, the bridge is closed to motor traffic and it is a popular spot for street performers, be it jazz bands, jugglers or mimes. Relax and enjoy the show while nibbling on your Berthillon!
Let the show go on! On weekends, pont Saint-Louis becomes a stage for performers.
Witness at the Bridge
(This is a mystery which uses one of the bridges to Île-Saint-Louis, pont Louis-Philippe
as a prop.)
Impressionist Paris: The Essential Guide to the City of Light