Ile de la Cité and Ile St-Louis City Orientation

Best Cafés

La Charlotte de l'Isle. Sip tea (or lusciously thick hot chocolate) and sample tasty cakes at this atmospheric salon. 24 rue St-Louis-en-l'Ile, Île Saint-Louis, Paris, Île-de-France, 75004. 01–43–54–25–83; www.lacharlottedelisle.fr. Closed Mon. and Tues..

Le Saint-Régis. Wondering where locals take their coffee on touristy Ile St-Louis? Try this old-timer—it's open until 2 am daily. 6 rue Jean du Bellay, Île Saint-Louis, Paris, Île-de-France, 75004. 01–43–54–59–41; www.cafesaintregisparis.com.

Top Reasons to Go

Notre-Dame. This gorgeous Gothic cathedral has welcomed visitors to Paris for centuries. Gaze at its famed rose windows, climb the bell tower to mingle with gargoyles, or amble around back to contemplate the awe-inspiring flying buttresses from Square Jean-XXIII. At the end of the plaza in front of the cathedral, down the stairs, is the interesting Crypte Archéologique, a museum that showcases the city's Roman ruins.

Sainte-Chapelle. Visit on a sunny day to best appreciate the exquisite stained glass in this 13th-century chapel built for King Louis IX.

Strolling the islands. Ile de la Cité is where Paris began. Start with the city’s oldest bridge, the Pont Neuf (incongruously called the "new bridge") and give a nod to the statue of Henry IV, who once proudly said, "I make love, I make war, and I build." From here, cross to Place Dauphine and make your way to Ile St-Louis, one of the city's most exclusive enclaves.

Making the Most of Your Time

This little area of Paris is easily walkable and packed with sights and stunning views, so give yourself as much time as possible to explore. With Notre-Dame, the Conciergerie, and Sainte-Chapelle, you could spend a day wandering, but the islands are easily combined with the St-Germain quarter. On warmer days, Rue de Buci is an ideal place to pick up a picnic lunch to enjoy in leafy Square du Vert-Galant at the tip of Ile de la Cité. If you have limited time in the area, make sure you visit Notre-Dame and go for a stroll.

Getting Here

Ile de la Cité and Ile St-Louis are in the 1er and 4e arrondissements (Boulevard du Palais is the dividing line between the 1er and 4e arrondissements on Ile de la Cité). If you're too far away to get here on foot, take the métro to St-Michel station or La Cité.

Ice Cream vs. Gelato

Amorino. Popping up all over—and winning converts faster than you can finish a double scoop—is the Amorino chain of gelaterias, which serves inventive frozen concoctions in the shape of a flower blossom. Popular flavors include rich bacio (dark chocolate with hazelnuts) and mascarpone with figs. 47 rue St-Louis-en-l'Ile, Île Saint-Louis, Paris, Île-de-France, 75004. 01–44–07–48–08; www.amorino.com.

Berthillon. Parisian ice cream is served at cafés all over town, but it's worth making a pilgrimage to the mecca of artisanal crèmes glacées to understand what all the fuss is about. The family-owned Berthillon shop features more than 30 flavors that change with the seasons, from mouth-puckering cassis (black currant) in summer to nutty marron (candied chestnut) in winter. Expect to wait in a lengthy line for a tiny scoop. 31 rue St-Louis-en-l'Ile, Île Saint-Louis, Paris, Île-de-France, 75004. 01–43–54–31–61; www.berthillon.fr. Closed Mon. and Tues..

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