- You’ll see the notorious jail where Marie-Antoinette was held before she was beheaded!
- You’ll learn why Paris’s “New Bridge” is in fact the city’s oldest!
- You’ll hear the history of Notre Dame and the Sainte Chapelle!
- Your welcomer will tell you the real story behind Notre Dame’s legendary hunchback!
Notre-Dame and Paris’ Islands Tour (Private)
Do not try to escape or to look away! Whatever you do, you will pass by them. Buses, subways, river; everything converges on the islands which shape the heart of Paris. This district is the quintessence of the city, its history and its charm.
The Île de la Cité is where the city was born. The Île Saint-Louis, its young sister, offers both splendor and discretion. In the streets of these two jewels, you’ll cross the marks of monarchic and religious France, the former Palace of Kings and the surviving cathedral.
Hours of glory of classic France will be evoked through incomparable 17th century architectural ensembles: Place Dauphine and Quay of Anjou’s mansions. In the 1860’s, Paris renovation also impacted the islands with a new hospital (Hotel-Dieu) and a new Palais de Justice (law court).
Paris is also charm and romanticism, thus the Islands district treats you with a flower market, quiet cobbled banks, medieval alleys and bridges, from where the eternally pouring Seine is visible.
In that Notre Dame tour Paris, your guide will welcome you on the Pont-Neuf, Paris’ oldest stone bridge, crossing the tip of the Ile de la Cité. From there, you will arrive at Place Dauphine, built at the same period, around 1600. Both locations will give you a good example of architecture during Henry IV’s reign.
You will move forward with the story of the first royal palace, now a law court. Along the river, the Conciergerie facades evoke a jail, where Queen Marie-Antoinette was kept before being beheaded. On the approaching wall, Paris’ first public clock is full of symbols and Latin references your knowledgeable welcomer will translate for you.
A short walk along Boulevard du Palais will lead you to an exterior view of the Sainte-Chapelle, a Gothic jewel dating back to Louis IX’s reign, i.e. the 13th century. The very same King was made a saint shortly after his death. He became patron of the French monarchy. Hence, many of his descendants were named Louis.
Since 1808, thanks to Napoleon’s will, a flower market stands in the middle of Ile de la Cité. It’s a charming place to wander through. On Rue Saint-Jacques east side, you will find Paris’ oldest hospital. A place to cure and help sick people has existed here since the 7th century! Of course, healthcare was mainly provided by the Church. The reason why the hospital is so close to Notre-Dame, majestic Parisian cathedral, whose construction took place between the 12th and 14th century.
Notre Dame has also to be discovered from the back, to appreciate its beautiful flying buttresses and archbishopric gardens. From there, a pedestrian bridge reaches Ile Saint-Louis. The island urbanization only began around 1614. It’s a quiet and exclusive district, famous for its private mansions and the romantic atmosphere of its banks.
Following Quai d’Orléans and Quai de Béthune, you will reach the island’s eastern tip, from where the Arabic World Institute’s contemporary structure offers a strong contrast. Back to Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île, you will forget modernity to enjoy a calm shopping street.
On Quai de Bourbon, another row of 17th and 18th centuries “hotels” will give you the real taste of Île Saint-Louis. Other local taste available? That of a Bertillon ice cream, a famous Parisian gelato shop!
Meeting Address: 15 Place du Pont Neuf, 75001 Paris - On Pont-Neuf bridge, at the foot of Henri IV’s equestrian statue. Closest metro station: Pont-Neuf (line 7) / ENDING POINT: Rue du Cloitre Notre-Dame, 75004 Paris. Closest metro station: Cité (line 4)
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