The Central Islands

Paris’ islands were once many, but over the centuries have been united or joined to the mainland. Today there are but two adjacent islands forming the center of Paris.

Île de la Cité
The westernmost of these two island, Île de la Cité, is Paris’ heart and origin. Its western end has held a palace since even Roman times, and its eastern end since the same has been consecrated to religion, especially after the construction in the 10th century of the cathedral predecessor to today’s Notre-Dame. The land between the two was, until the 1850s, largely residential and commercial, but since has been filled by the city’s Prefecture de Police, Palais de Justice, Hôtel-Dieu hospital and Tribunal de Commerce. Only the westernmost and north-eastern extremities of the island remain residential today, and the latter preserves some vestiges of its 16th-century canonic houses.

Île Saint-Louis
Purely residential in nature, this island’s first use was for the grazing of market cattle and the stocking of wood. One of France’s first examples of urban planning, it was mapped and built from end to end during the 17th-century reigns of Henri IV and Louis XIII. A peaceful oasis of calm in the busy Paris centre, this island has but narrow one-way streets and no metro station.

The Central Islands

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