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L'Ile St-Louis

Metro : Pont-Marie & Sully-Morland

ile st louis    Often considered the most romantic part of Paris, the peaceful Ile St-Louis is prime strolling territory. Unlike its larger neighbour, the Ile de la Cité, it has no monuments or metro stations, and only a single, small museum at 6 quai d'Orléans, devoted to the romantic Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz. You'll find high houses on single lane streets, tree-lined quai, a school, a church, assorted restaurants and cafés, and interesting little shops.
    For centuries, Ile St-Louis was nothing but swampy  pastureland, owned by Notre-Dame, until along came the seventeeth-century version of a real estate developer, Christophe Marie, who had the bright idea of filling it with  elegant mansions, so that by 1660 the island was transformed. In the 1840s, the island became a popular Bohemian hang-out. The Club des Hachichins, whose members included Beaudelaire, Dumas, Delacroix, and Daumier, met every month and got high on hashish  at the Hotel Lauzun, 17, quai d'Anjou. Beaudelaire in fact lived for a while in the attic and wrote les Fleurs du Mal here. The hotel, built in 1657, has an intact interior, complete with splendide trompe-l'oeil  decorations, prearranged group visits are possible.
    Nowadays, the island is the most covetable of the city's addresses - you only get to have your home here if you're the Aga Khan, the Pretender to the French throne, or an ex-grand duke of Russia.
    A visit to the Ile St Louis wouldn't be complete for most people without a visit to M. Berthillon at 31, rue St Louis en l'ile, makers of exceptionnal fruit sorbets.
    The island is particularly atmospheric in the evening, and dinner here followed by an arm-in-arm wander along the quais, is a must in any lovers'itinerary.

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