Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ile De La Cité

When will he stop with the Paris posts? I can hear you asking. Today's the day. These are the last of my photos from my mere forty-eight hours in Paris over two weeks ago. And they're taken in the very center of the city: the island called Cité.

Notre Dame de Paris seen from water level.

The most recognizable monument on the island is, of course, the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. It's a splendid example of Gothic cathedral architecture in France, although certainly not the oldest (Sens), longest (Amiens), or tallest (Beauvais).

The cathedral's transept from the south.

You can climb up into the towers of the cathedral for terrific views, if your legs will carry you. Or you can descend into the crypt below the parvis (that open space in front of the cathedral) to see artifacts and building foundations from the time of the Romans through the Middle Ages.

The first inhabitants of Paris, Gaulois fisherman, settled the largest of the river's islands over two thousand years ago, before the Romans entered this part of France. It is thought that the city's name is derived from name of this tribe: the Parisii. The Romans called the city Lutèce.

Buildings on the Ile de la Cité.

The island we know today is a conglomeration. There were originally up to seven islands in this part of the river. Parisians filled in the shallow parts of the river over time to conglomerate the land into the two islands, Cité and Saint-Louis. To the north, on the right bank, the river flowed into marshy lands, which were also improved with fill to become the neighborhood now called le Marais (French for marsh).

Henri IV, le Vert-Galant, and la Samaritaine.

At the downstream tip of Cité is a green park, a favorite spot to sit and enjoy the views or have a picnic, called le Square du Vert-Galant. At street level is the bronze equestrian statue of king Henri IV (whose nickname was le Vert-Galant), which faces upstream and into the Place Dauphine. Henri IV was responsible for developing this part of the island, creating the triangular place and the brick buildings that surrounded it.

A tiled street sign.

On the north end of the Pont Neuf, which crosses here, was once located a pump house that supplied the Louvre palace with water. The pump was called the Samaritaine, after the story of the samaritan that once gave Christ a drink. The pump was dismantled in the nineteenth century, but its legacy lives on in the name of the large department store (now closed) on the right bank opposite the tip of the island.

La Place Dauphine with Henri IV in the background.

The island is also home to the Conciergerie (famous for housing Marie-Antoinette during her trial), the Palais de Justice (France's ministry of justice), the Hôtel Dieu (a hospital), Paris police headquarters, and the high Gothic Sainte-Chapelle. There is so much history on the island that it would take a rather large book, of several volumes, to tell it all.

A dog and his ball.

Another curiosity, and one that I didn't visit this time, is the flower market on the north side of the island. It's worth a look, even if you're not in the market for flowers or plants or even birds, which are sold there on Sundays.

Soaking up some sun.

But I did take a walk through the Place Dauphine and along the Quai des Orfèvres, where I re-crossed the river and went back down to the berges. From there, I walked a bit more before heading back up to street level and over to my hotel to pick up my bag. By then it was five o'clock, so I walked over to the train station, had enough time for a glass of wine, and boarded the train for home.


  1. I'm not tired of your Paris photos. I love seeing them. I think you really took some shots that are unique and not the usual tourist views. You made me feel like I was there. Thanks!

  2. always love Paris that Notre Dame is so clean & spiffy lookin now was pretty dingy for a while there

    we're suddenly having temps in mid 90's all weekend (a real shock to suddenly jump into that heat)

  3. I never get tired either from Paris pictures.

  4. I have really enjoyed your Paris photos and posts. We haven't been for 12 years and now I want us to go back. Thank you.

  5. Walt, the Montrichard market fruits and veggies sound so tasty... just knowing they are from a market enhances their image :)

    Thanks for all of these Paris photos. I, too, never tire of them.


  6. I love your Paris photos, I could look at them everyday....Barb

  7. You can never post too many photos of Paris, or of any part of France for that matter, and your walks make me feel that I am there (almost).

    Thanks Walt!

  8. Thanks, everyone! I appreciate the kind words. It only encourages me, you know...

  9. I am not tired of them either...oh my word, I didn't realize you had only been for 48 hours...we were there for 5 days, lots more photos to put up...

    There is so much to see there, I have read a few different blogs since being back, and they all write about life in Paris but different areas..great reading!

  10. on the contrary
    i love the paris entries; perhaps with enough of them i won't have to go there in reality?

  11. anne, I'm enjoying your photos, too!

    spo, not a chance, man. You must see Paris in person.


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