Ile de La Cite (Paris)

Subway: Chatelet, Cite

Tel. 01-5340 6080

Open: daily

Closed: Jan 1, May 1, Dec 25


Description of Ile de La Cite

Ile de La Cite is a boat shaped island on the Seine river that flows through Paris. It is the historic nucleus of ancient Paris. Parisii Celtic tribe that settled Ile de La Cite in the 3rd century BC gave the name to French capital. Romans who conquered these lands in the 1st century BC under Julius Caesar expanded the settlement and constructed their structures. Later Germanic tribe of the Franks and the Capetian kings expanded their presence even further. If you are interested in the earliest human presence on Ile de La Cite you can visit Crypte Archeologique that houses remains of ancient and medieval structures. Every day Ile de la Cite is the centre of Marche aux Fleurs de Oiseaux that is held on the Place Louis Lepine. It is the most famous flower market in Paris. On Sundays locals also sell caged singing birds here.


For a long time it was thought that a small Gallic tribe called the Parisii lived on the island Ile de La Cite from 250 BC. The area was rich in fishing and hunting and the access from one side of the Seine to the other was easier thanks to the narrowness of the river. Two wooden footbridges extended the natural north-south road, which descended from Mount La Chapelle and went to the hill of Santa Genoveva, thus avoiding the many marshes around. In 52 BC, at the time of the struggle between Vercingetorix and Julius Caesar, the parisii lived effectively in the vicinity of the island.

But today, historians are more inclined to other hypotheses. Indeed, the parisii could have perfectly settled farther away, at the mouth of the Bièvre River (tributary of the Seine), or on another island now disappeared, even on the peninsula formed by the mouth of the Bièvre, on the left bank of the river (rive gauche). All this area of ​​Paris was flooded or swampy, like the area later called Le Marais ('The Marsh'), and the island itself was completely flooded in the late 1197.