The Île Saint-Louis: An Island Gem in the Heart of Paris

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The Île Saint-Louis: An Island Gem in the Heart of Paris
You might think the Île Saint-Louis is all about Berthillon ice cream. And you would be partially—and deliciously—right. The famous brand has been one of the island’s claims to fame for more than 65 years.  But . . . there are many other treasures to discover. A Quick Quiz Let’s see how much you already know about the island (sans Google). The island is connected to the left bank, right bank, and Île de la Cité. How many bridges are there, and which is the oldest? What famous poet created a hashish club at the Hôtel de Lauzun on Quai d’Anjou? Name three iconic Paris landmarks that you can see from the Île Saint-Louis. Who is the island named after? (And, no, it’s not as easy as who is buried in Grant’s tomb. Be specific about the numeral.) What French sculptor had a studio on the island (Quai de Bourbon)? You’ll find the answers in this article, so read on (but try the questions first). Discovering the Île Saint-Louis While the Île Saint-Louis gets hype as an upscale island, providing a home to millionaires and celebrities seeking privacy, it is really a relatively quiet village with friendly merchants who know your name and cherish your friendship. The less-than-one-square kilometer area seems to defy Einstein and offer an expanded universe of history and storytelling. The island was once called Île aux Vaches (Cow Island), because it was an island dedicated to grazing cows for the more inhabited Île de la Cité next door.

Lead photo credit : Photo © Meredith Mullins

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Meredith Mullins is an internationally exhibited fine art photographer and instructor based in Paris. Her work is held in private and museum collections in Europe and the U.S. and can be seen at or in her award-winning book "In A Paris Moment." She is a writer for OIC Moments and other travel and education publications.


  • Patricia Daly-Lipe
    2020-08-21 12:49:15
    Patricia Daly-Lipe
    My mother lived on the Quai d"Anjou from 1927-1939. She died when I was 18 but I did much research to know what her life was like before I was born, hence my book 'A CRUEL CALM, Paris Between the Wars'. In the book a several references to the Ile St. Louis including the reason the bridge attaching the Ile St Louis to the Ile de Cite is ugly. Here is a portion of that issue in the book: I found out that the bridge leading from the IIe St. Louis to the Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame had been cursed. It happened centuries ago by a band of gypsies. The clergy, who had seen to it that the gypsies were to be incarcerated, probably for disagreeing with the tenets of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, had forced the group onto a barge to cross the river. In angry retaliation, the gypsies put a curse on both the river and the bridge they floated under. So far, there had been five bridges and each had collapsed for no explicable reason. With each collapse, there had been loss of life.