Wednesday, April 9, 2014

  • This story begins at Preparing your trip to Paris. This is the second part of this journey.

    Île de la Cité and Île de Saint-Louis are two island in the middle of the Seine river. If you look at Île de la Cité from the other site of the river, it's really impressive. It seems that first Gallics or Gaulishs founded in this island a small urban center with the name of Lutetia to protect themselves from the barbarians. It was the first civil and religious center where the Cathedral and the Palace of Justice arose. Île de la Cité has 8 bridges that connect the island with the riverbanks. Across the riverbanks there are Les Quais (The Docks). Have a look at the photo above.

    Île de Saint-Louis

    Being there (Île de la Cité) I recommend to visit the following places: Cathédral de Notre Dame, Pont de l'Archevêché, Quai de Montebello, Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportation, Sainte-Chapelle, Conciergerie and Pont Neuf. There are a lot of places to visit here as in all Paris but let's go little by little. First take your Metro Map and plan your day to go to Cité Station, line #4.

    Hop-off at Cité Station and ask people to go to Quai de la Corse. Being there walk to your left having the river to your right and ask for Conciergerie, the first place to visit (fare is included in your Paris Pass Card = PPC), via Quai de l'Horloge (The Clock). If you are not sure about your pronunciation just have a piece of paper with all these names written in french.


    What's La Conciergerie? Borrowed from Wikipedia Conciergerie we have: It is part of the larger complex known as the Palais de Justice, which is still used for judicial purposes. Hundreds of prisoners during the French Revolution were taken from La Conciergerie to be executed on the guillotine at a number of locations around Paris... Famous prisoners include Queen Marie Antoinette, the poet André Chénier, Charlotte Corday, Madame Élisabeth, Madame du Barry and the 21 Girondins purged at the beginning of the Terror. Georges Danton later awaited his execution here, and during the Thermidorian Reaction, Robespierre himself was interned for a short time before his escape to the Hotél de Ville and final stand there.

    Just behind La Conciergerie you can visit Le Tribunal de Grande Instance (Palais de Justice) and La Sainte-Chapelle (included in PPC).

    Tribunal de Grande Instance

    Borrowed from Wikipedia Sainte-Chapelle we have: La Sainte-Chapelle (The Holy Chapel) is a royal medieval Gothic chapel, located near the Palais de la Cité, on the Île de la Cité in the heart of Paris, France. Begun some time after 1239 and consecrated on 26 April 1248, the Sainte-Chapelle is considered among the highest achievements of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture. Its erection was commissioned by King Louis IX of France to house his collection of Passion Relics, including Christ's Crown of Thorns - one of the most important relics in medieval Christendom.

    Go back to La Conciergerie and walk now to your left, having the river to your right througout Quai de l'Horloge. You will find at the end of the street, just in front of you, the equestrian statue of Henry IV, ancient King of France. To your right Pont Neuf, almost in the west side end of the island.

    Pont Neuf

    What about Pont Neuf? Again borrowed from Wikipedia Pont Neuf we have: The Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris, France. Its name, which was given to distinguish it from older bridges that were lined on both sides with houses, has remained. It stands by the western point of the Île de la Cité, the island in the middle of the river that was the heart of medieval Paris.

    Tire? Have a drink at La Taverne Henri IV, just in the corner, and relax a little. Now I invite you to visit Île aux Juifs (Island of the Jewish) also called Île des Templiers (Island of the Templars) walking ahead behind the statue of Henry IV. Following this way you will reach the west end of the island. A nice place to stay some minutes really quiet.

    Île aux Juifs

    This piece of soil where you are was really a little island separated from the main island (Île de la Cité) and was integrated with it when Pont Neuf was built between 1587 and 1607. It has a bundle of history behind it. Let's see what Wikipedia says about this little island.

    Île aux Juifs: Île aux Juifs, Paris, also called Île des Templiers, was an island on the Seine in Paris situated just west of the Île de la Cité. The island was named for the number of executions of Jews that took place on it during the Middle Ages. It still exists, though it was joined to the Île de la Cité when the Pont Neuf was built. It was on this island that Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Templars, and several of the remaining members of the Templar order were burnt to death on 18 March 1314.

    Particularly I love history. And Paris is full of it. Let's go throughout the times and have a look at those convulsed moments of the history of France.

    Impressive, isn't it? If you want to know more about this fascinating story read the books by Maurice Druon that can be bought here at Amazon. Well, time to go back to Pont Neuf. We will walk now throughout the south side of the island. Having reached the bridge take the street to the right of the second building (first one is where La Taverne de Henry IV is) via Quai des Orfèvres. The river will be to your right.

    Quai des Orfèvres

    Passing the Rue de Harlay you will see Sainte-Chapelle to your left. Continue walking up to Boulevard de Palai (next bridge) and now walk straight ahead via Quai du Marche Neuf until reaching the third bridge just in the corner with Rue de la Cité. Passing the street there is a big square and walking throughout it you will find just in front of you the monumental Cathédral de Notre Dame. Spectacular, isn't it?

    Cathédrale de Notre Dame

    Wikipedia says about Cathédral de Notre Dame: Notre-Dame de Paris (French for "Our Lady of Paris"), also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is a historic Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. The naturalism of its sculptures and stained glass are in contrast with earlier Romanesque architecture.

    Being or not Catholic I do recommend to visit Notre Dame. It is an imponent church. It is prohibited to take photos inside but people do. I really don't know why. Just in front and close Notre Dame there are some points of interest: Le Point Zéro des Routes de France, marker for the Kilometer Zero of French roads, Paris Free Historical Walking Tour and Food Tour Paris.

    Leaving Notre Dame and being in front of it walk throughout the street to the left named Rue du Cloître Notre Dame. Walk straight ahead up to Cafe Esmeralda. Turn to your left via Quai aux Fleurs and just a few meters you will find Le Petit Plateau. There you can have a typical french lunch without spending too much. Probably you will have to wait a little but it worth the time.

    Le Petit Plateau

    Photo cortesy of TripAdvisor

    After lunch walk to your right via Quai de l'Archevêché. Just in front the bridge named Pont de l'Archevêché to your left there is a door to reach the east end of the island. Here you can visit Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, as is explained by Wikipedia: The Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation (Memorial of the Deportation) is a memorial to the 200,000 people who were deported from Vichy France to the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. It is located in Paris, France on the site of a former morgue, underground behind Notre Dame on Île de la Cité. It was designed by French modernist architect Georges-Henri Pingusson and was inaugurated by Charles de Gaulle in 1962.

    Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation

    Crossing the bridge and just on it you will find what is called Lovelock Bridge to strengthen the bonds of love with your partner forever. Why not? The right place the right moment!

    Lovelock Bridge

    After that warm moment walk straight ahead crossing the bridge to reach the other side of the river. In the corner turn to your right via Quai de la Tournelle. Walk straight ahead having the river to your right up to what is called Quai de Montebello one of the most animated quai de Paris. Below a photo by night.

    Quai de Montebello

    Just face to face with Subway you will find what is called Les Bouquinistes, i.e., booksellers of used and antiquarian books. Behind the imponent Cathedral de Notre Dame where you were before.

    Les Bouquinistes

    Well, this first tour has come to the end. Time to go home. Let's walk to the next metro station called Cluny - La Sorbonne. Walk to the next corner and turn to your left at Cafe Panis, via Rue Lagrange. In this street there are several souvenir shops where you can buy things to remember your visit to Paris. Reaching the corner walk throughout the street to your right via Rue du Fouarre. Restaurant Zenyama is to your left.

    Walk straight head until reaching Rue Dante and continue walking until reaching Restaurant Le Bar à Huîtres to your right. Turn to your right crossing the street and walk now throughout Boulevard Saint-Germain. Album's Store is to your right. Walk straight ahead a little and ask someone where is Cluny - La Sorbonne station, line #10. From here and with your metro-maps you can go back to your apartment. Tomorrow will be another day!

    This story will continue... have in contact... follow me by twitter at @leoballiache. Write me when you like. I'm to help you.