France

La Cité, the heart of Paris

 

IMG_4999If you are planning a trip to Paris, start with visiting the Île de la Cité, the heart of Paris. All road distances in France are calculated from the 0 km point located in the Place du Parvis de Notre-Dame, in front of the cathedral.

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The Île de la Cité is one of two remaining natural islands in the Seine within the city of Paris, the other being the Île Saint-Louis. It is the centre of Paris and the location where the medieval city was founded.

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The main buildings on la Cité are the cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris and the former royal palace, the Palais de la Cité, which consisted of the Conciergerie, Palais de Justice and the Sainte-Chapelle.

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Here is la Conciergerie, a former prison in Paris, located on the west side of the Île de la Cité. Hundreds of prisoners during the French Revolution were taken from the Conciergerie to be executed on the guillotine at a number of locations around Paris. The Reign of Terror (September 1793-July 1794) had a profound impact on France. More than 40,000 people died from execution and imprisonment. One of them was Marie Antoinette, queen of France and Navarre from 1774 to 1792, whose cell can be visited today.

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The Clock Tower is part of la Conciergerie. Here is Paris’s oldest clock, erected in 1370:

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The Place Dauphine is a public square located near the western end of the Île de la Cité in the first arrondissement of Paris. It was initiated by Henry IV in 1609. He named it for his son, the Dauphin of France and future Louis XIII, who had been born in 1601.

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Since its construction, almost all of the houses surrounding the square have been raised in height, given new facades, rebuilt, or replaced with imitations of the originals. Only two retain their original appearance.

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Parisians like spending time in this square, they also enjoy their favourite game: la pétanque.

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From the “square”, actually triangular in shape, one can access the middle of the Pont Neuf, a bridge which connects the left and right banks of the Seine by passing over the Île de la Cité.

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The Pont Neuf (New Bridge) is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine. Its name, which was given to distinguish it from older bridges that were lined on both sides with houses, has remained after all of those were replaced.

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To end our tour of la Cité let’s look at it from the other side, from l’ile Saint Louis:

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