Ile de la Cité Neighbourhood
What sights have been seen here in Ile de la Cité! Just like a salamander re-emerging from the cinders, or a cat surviving more than its allotted seven lives, the Cité subtly reimagines and reinvents itself, continuing to delight us all. In this area, the history of Paris emanates from the very ground on which we tread.
The poet Joachim du Bellay once resided here, where the exquisite melange of Rue des Ursins, Rue de la Colombe and Rue Massillon remain true to the description given by Victor Hugo and Eugene Sue, when reporting the bustling Paris of Medieval times. A divine surprise awaits at the beginning of Rue des Chantres – enter through the doors of 26 Rue Chanoinesse, a pastiche style medieval house, and your feet will press upon ancient tombstones…
But to live in Ile de la Cité is to share your life with Notre Dame. The cathedral resides here, visible at every emerging street corner, surpassing the roofs, the trees, piercing the sky. Majestic and timeless, it is the unwavering memory of Paris. Like those bells heard from one’s home, which directly transport one to life in the country, Notre Dame evokes a similar experience. With just a glimpse, or a remembrance, all the history, secrets and adventures reverberate and one can feel the echoes of the past. Nothing is more moving than to attend the distinctive procession which displays the Crown of Thorns, on the first Friday of the month at 5p.m.
This island of stone and trees celebrates and honours nature beautifully: Pope John XXIII Square encircles the Church with tender vegetation, acting almost like a protection. Across the way is the renowned Flower Market, a permanent fixture since the early 1800s, a place of poetry unchanged by the passage of time.
Ile de la Cité exudes the feeling of eternal youth.
Living in Ile de la Cité is to experience living both sides of the river, simultaneously! Just like this “point zero” in the middle of Notre Dame’s esplanade, one is at the very heart of everything. Go and grab a delicious egg mayo dish at the Brasserie des Deux Palais across from the Palais de Justice. Or else…. Stroll around! Just a stone’s throw away is the bustling Marais, with BHV and the cheery shops of the Right Bank. Alternatively, depending on your mood, navigate the Left Bank, explore the market at the renowned Place Maubert, take off to the Latin Quarter. So many possibilities, everything is so accessible and so close.
Exploring the Hôtel Dieu courtyard, the veteran of Parisian hospitals is highly recommended. Observe the statue of Dr. Dupuytren which lies centersquare, an object of a very particular devotion. Every month, to the horror of medical authorities, the med students disguise and dress the statue. So, we get to see Dupuytren as Batman, Mickey Mouse, a Smurf… Hilarious!