The Ile de la Cité: Visiting the Historic Heart of Paris

••• Ile Saint-Louis is at the right side and the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral on the Ile de la Cité in the background. Sizun Eye/Getty Images

The Ile de la Cité is a natural island located on the Seine River in Paris between the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) and Rive Droite (Right Bank). The historic and geographical center of intramural Paris, The Ile de la Cité was the site of the original settlement of the city by the ancient Celtic tribe known as the Parisii in the 3th century BC. Later, the island was the center of the medieval city. The construction of Notre Dame Cathedral beginning in the 10th century is a testament to the area's importance in medieval Paris.

Up until the mid-19th century, The Ile de la Cité was mostly occupied by houses and shops, but later became a major administrative and bureaucratic center. In addition to monuments such as Notre Dame, the Sainte Chapelle chapel, la Conciergerie (where Marie Antoinette awaited her execution during the French Revolution) and the Holocaust Memorial, the Ile de la Cite also houses the Prefecture de Police (police headquarters) and the Palais de Justice, the city's historic and principal​ court of justice.

The island is part of Paris' 1st arrondissement to the west and 4th arrondissement to the east. To get there, get off at Metro Cite or RER Saint Michel.

Pronunciation: [il də la site]