Île Saint-Louis Paris: True Parisian Neighbourhood Gem

Want to visit a quiet, yet charming area of Paris?

Île Saint-Louis in the 4th arrondissement is the most elegant neighbourhood in the city. 

There are no significant landmarks or attractions per se, only picture-perfect views and classic 17th-century architecture.

Ile St Louis is one of two natural islands in Paris France. The larger of the two is the well-known Île de la Cité famously home to the Notre Dame cathedral, which draws all of the tourists. But not the peaceful and elegant Ile Saint-Louis.

If you are looking for a tranquil, relaxing, authentic Parisian experience go to Ile Saint Louis.
And, if you do, here’s everything you need to know about this lovely area of Paris.   

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Is Ile Saint Louis Worth Visiting?

tall buildings in ile saint louis paris

I instantly fell in love with Île Saint-Louis.

You see, whenever I go to Paris, I like to stay in a new neighbourhood. On my third trip (out of 8 trips to Paris), I rented an apartment on île Saint-Louis and that’s when I really got to know it well.

And every return visit to Paris includes a stroll through this elegant neighbourhood.

Ile Saint-Louis represents the quintessential Parisian life.

It’s where you’ll find lovers entwined on a bench or walking arm-in-arm along the Seine.

Where you’ll hear the faint sound of music floating through the air and artists sketching scenes of Paris on their notepads.

Locals warmly greet one another in the street with their double air kisses – left then right – looking ever so chic while holding a baguette in one hand and a dog in the other.

Oh yes, it truly looks as though you’ve stepped onto a movie set, a romantic one at that! 

This is why I fell in love with île Saint Louis, and think it’s worth visiting next time you’re in Paris.

The History of Ile Saint Louis Paris

river with bridge and buildings in Ile Saint Louis Paris

Until the 17th century, Île St Louis was used as pastureland for grazing cattle. When the Pont Neuf bridge was built joining the two islands together King Henry IV decided to develop this land.

Between 1614 and 1644, the entire island was developed by architect Christophe Marie into lavish townhomes and small mansions and has remained unchanged ever since.

Contrary to the buildings you find elsewhere in Paris with an inner courtyard, these townhomes were opened towards the outside with windows and balconies to maximize the view of the Seine.

The wealthiest residents of Paris then moved here. Even today, it’s the home to French aristocrats and is considered the most expensive area in Paris. 

How to Explore Paris Île St. Louis

river with bridge and buildings in Paris Île Saint-Louis

Ile Saint Louis is located in the heart of Paris in the 4th arrondissement.

The best way to get acquainted with this tiny island is to walk around the exterior as it sits in the middle of the Seine with the left and right banks on either side.

It’s connected to the rest of Paris by four quays and five bridges. Each offers postcard-perfect views of the Seine and the Parisian buildings.

Down the center of the island is Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île. And off this main street are tiny side streets that extend to either side of the left or right bank. 

Ile Saint Louis Bridges

The bridges of Pont Louis-Philippe and Pont Marie link it to the Right Bank or rive droite. Pont de la Tournelle bridge links Ile Saint-Louis to the Left Bank, or rive gauche. 

The bridge of Pont de Sully is unusual, as it crosses the eastern tip of Ile St Louis to connect it to both banks. Lastly, the footbridge of Pont St-Louis takes you to the larger island of Ile de la Cité.

Ile Saint Louis Quays

The Quai de Bourbon and Quai d’Anjou are on the north side closest to the right bank. Whereas Quai de Béthune and Quai d’Orléans are on the south side facing the left bank of Paris.

What to Do on Ile St Louis Paris

Admire the Architecture

buildings in paris ile saint louis

Stroll and admire the grandeur of the untouched 17th-century architecture. Some of the most noteworthy buildings to seek out are:

  • Hôtel Lambert is considered the most extravagant townhome with a rotunda overlooking the Seine River 📍5, Quai d’Anjou
  • Hôtel de Lauzun is listed as a designated as a heritage site  📍17, quai d’Anjou
  • Church of Saint Louis-en-l’Isle is the only church on the island 📍19, rue Saint-Louis en Ile
  • Hotel Chenizot at 📍49-53 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île

Enjoy a Berthillon Ice Cream

If you ask anyone where to get the best ice cream in Paris, there is only one answer, Berthillon.

The first  Berthillon ice cream parlour to open was in the 1950s. Visit the original location at isle st louis and choose your favourite flavour.  

  • 📍29-31, Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île | Open Wednesday to Sunday only

Shop at the Boutique Speciality Shops

Red store with candies in window in Ile Saint Louis Paris

One of the top reasons to go to Ile Saint-Louis is to visit the neighbourhood shops.

Almost all the wonderful specialty shops run along the main street, Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île.

Here are a few of my favourites:

  • Oliviers & Co specializes in olives and olive oils 📍No. 81 
  • Boulangerie Saint Louis 📍No. 80
  • La Ferme Saint-Aubin is a classic cheese shop 📍No. 76
  • Les Delices de Saint-Louis is a wonderful corner store 📍No. 67
  • Cacao et Chocolat is a decadent chocolatier shop 📍No. 63
  • Pylones carries one-of-a-kind products and toys 📍No. 57
  • L’Epicerie is a drug store, and the perfect place to buy French beauty products 📍No. 51
  • L’ile Aux Images is a museum of vintage photographs and lithographs of old Paris 📍No. 51
  • Jean-Paul Gardil’s is a local butcher shop 📍No. 44
  • Lafitte is a shop for foodies and specializes in foie gras 📍No. 8 Rue Jean du Bellay

Admire the views

bench with woman overlooking water in ile saint louis

There are no bad views while on Île Saint Louis.

But if I had to choose a favourite it would be at Place Louis Aragon. A small quiet square at the western tip of the island.

Make sure you go down a level, right on the riverbank. It’s also a romantic spot to watch the sunset. 

Another great view is along Quai de Béthune and Quai d’Orléans with views of Notre Dame cathedral which lies on the larger island of Île de la Cite.

Best Restaurants Ile Saint Louis Paris

bike leaning against stone wall streets in paris on ile saint Louis

For such a small secluded part of Paris, there are a great number of restaurants to choose from.

Here are what I’ve tried and recommend:  

  • Brasserie de I’ll St-Louis serves classic French dishes 📍55, Quai de Bourbon
  • Au Franc Pinot, a bar since the 17th century 📍1, Quai de Bourbon
  • Le Flore en L’Ile is a classic French bistro perfect for people watching on its ouside terrace 📍42, Quai d’Orléans
  • Sorza features classic Italian dishes 📍51, rue Saint Louis en L’Ile
  • Le Sergent Recruteu is a Michelin restaurant with a gorgeous styled décor 📍41, rue Saint-Louis en L’Ile
  • Le Caveau de L’Isle is a initiate French cuisine restaurant 📍36, rue Saint-Louisen L’Ile
  • L’Ilot Vache is a classic French bistro 📍35, rue Saint-Louis en L’Ile

Best Places to Stay on Île Saint-Louis

Staying on Ile St Louis was one of my favourite neighbourhoods.

Not only for its elegant architecture, but it also has one of the best locations. It’s central to the Latin Quarter, Le Marais and Saint Germain, not to mention steps from the Seine.

Staying in a holiday rental is the best way to feel like a local. Unfortunately, where I stay is no longer a rental opportunity. But here are others I found that offer the same type of experience I enjoyed:

As a Holidaymaker

Wandering around Ile Saint Louis Paris makes you feel like you are taking a holiday from the busyness of Paris. It’s that tranquil and relaxing. If you….

  • appreciate historic architecture 
  • prefer not to be in a touristy area of Paris 
  • love to shop in specialty stores
  • enjoy a fine meal with locals; and
  • want to experience the quiet Parisian life…

then you’ll fall in love with Île Saint-Louis as I did. 

If you are looking for more Paris inspiration and trip planning, head to my France Travel Guide which not only has all of my articles but has some helpful information about visiting France.

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