TRAVEL / Paris by foot: A walker's guide: Ile St-Louis

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The Independent Culture
The walk around this charming tiny island passes along picturesque tree-lined quays from Pont Louis-Philippe to Quai d'Anjou, taking in the 17th-century hotels that give the area such a powerful sense of period. It then penetrates the heart of the island along the main street, Rue St-Louis-en-l'Ile, with its chic restaurants, cafes, art galleries and boutiques, before returning to the north side of the island and back to Pont Marie.

Metro Pont Marie to Rue Jean du Bellay: From the Pont Marie metro station (1) walk down Quai des Celestins and take the nearest available exit to Voie Georges Pompidou. Continue down Voie Georges Pompidou to Pont Louis-Philippe (2). Cross the bridge and immediately to the right take the steps down to the lower quay. Walk around the tree-shaded west point of the island (3), then up the other side to the Pont St-Louis (4). Opposite the bridge, on the corner of Rue Jean du Bellay, is the Flore en l'Ile (5), the smartest cafe on the island. Next to it is one of the Berthillon shops, famous for its fruit ices.

Quai d'Orleans: From the corner of Rue Jean du Bellay and Quai d'Orleans there are fine views of the Pantheon's dome and Notre-Dame. Along the quay, No 12 (6) is one of several stately 17th-century houses which have fine wrought-iron balconies. At Nos 18-20 the Hotel Rolland has unusual Hispano-Moorish windows. At No 6 the Polish library, founded in 1838, has a small museum devoted to the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz (7); it also contains some Chopin scores and autographs by George Sand and Victor Hugo. On the right, the Pont de la Tournelle (8) links the island to the Left Bank.

Quai de Bethune to Pont Marie: Continue beyond the bridge and into Quai de Bethune, where the Nobel laureate Marie Curie lived at No 36 (9), and where beautiful wrought-iron balconies gracefully decorate Nos 34 and 30. The Hotel Richelieu (10) at No 18 is one of the island's most beautiful houses. It features a fine garden which has retained its original Classical blind arcades.

If you turn left down Rue Bretonvilliers there is an imposing 17th-century house (11), with a high-pitched roof resting on a great Classical arch spanning the street. Back on the Quai de Bethune, proceed to the Pont de Sully (12), a late 19th-century bridge joining the river banks. Ahead is the charming 19th-century Square Barye (13), a shady public garden at the east point of the island, with fine river views. From here travel towards the Quai d'Anjou as far as the corner of Rue St-Louis-en-l'Ile to see the most famous house on the island, the Hotel Lambert (14). Continue into the Quai d'Anjou, where Hotel de Lauzun (15) has a severe Classical front and a beautifully gilded balcony and drainpipes. Now turn left into Rue Poulletier and note the convent of the Daughters of Charity (16) at No 5 bis. Further on, at the corner of the Rue Poulletier and Rue St-Louis-en-l'Ile, is the island church, St-Louis (17), with its unusual tower, projecting clock and carved main door.

Proceed along Rue St-Louis-en-l'Ile, which abounds in small, chic, bistro-style restaurants with pleasantly old-fashioned decor. No 31 is the original Berthillon shop (18), No 60 a charming antique shop (19) with an original 19th-century window front, and at No 51 is one of the few 18th-century hotels on the island, Hotel Chernizot (20), which has a superb rococo balcony.

Turn right into Rue Jean du Bellay and along to Pont Louis-Philippe. Turn right again into the Quai de Bourbon, which is lined by one of the island's finest rows of hotels, the most notable being Hotel Jassaud at No 19 (21). Continue to the 17th-century Pont Marie (22) and cross it to the Pont Marie metro on the other side.


Starting point: Pont Marie metro.

Length: 2.6km (1.6 miles), lasting about 90 minutes.

Getting there: The 67 bus takes you to Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe and also crosses the island along Rue des Deux Ponts and Boulevard Pont de Sully; routes 86 and 87 also cross the island along Boulevard Pont de Sully.

Stopping-off points: There are cafes, Berthillon shops and restaurants on the Rue St-Louis-en-l'Ile. Places to rest include the tree-shaded quays and the Square Barye.

Text extracted and maps adapted from the 'Eyewitness Travel Guide: Paris', published by Dorling Kindersley on 9 September, price pounds 14.99. Available from all good bookshops, or to order by credit card (Visa, Access or American Express) telephone 0621 819600, 8.30am-5.00pm.

(Photograph and map omitted)