Welcome to the racing heart of Paris. Why racing, you ask? Because on Île Saint-Louis is where you’ll get the sexiest view of the Notre-Dame cathedral. (Let’s face it, her front-end ain’t bad, but her derrière is ON FIRE [*sorry*].) To cop a look, stroll across the île on Pont Saint-Louis, then Pont de l’Archevêché, look in her direction and BOOM. Also in the fourth: hip dining and shopping (even on Sundays!), Jewish Paris’ stronghold — Rue des Rosiers — and, straddling the 3rd arrondissement, Place des Vosges, the city’s prettiest public square (in our opinion), with lawns you can actually sit on, surrounded by stunning former royal real estate from the 1600s. This is among Paris’ priciest places to shack up, with a single house recently clocking in at 47.7 million Euros on the open market.
This legendary hood needs no sales pitch: it’spicturesque, hip, central, fashionable, medieval, gay, Jewish…lots of intersectionality going on here. The main drags not to miss are Rue Vieille du Temple, Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Rue des Rosiers, Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, Rue François Miron, Place des Vosges (located in a former royal château complex), and the Village Saint-Paul — a calm outdoor shopping/resto promenade zone. Step out and try to find the remnants of the 1000-ish year-old former boundary wall of Paris.
I heard somewhere once that some of Île Saint-Louis’s old residents have never, in their entire life, stepped off of their island. And I believe it. Why would they need to? It’s an idyllic, centrally-located enclave surrounded by the languid River Seine. And it’s where the government keeps its strategic stockpile of the so-called best ice cream in the world — Berthillon…truth or fiction? You decide. (Hint: Try the caramel beurre salé flavor. It’s kinda great.) Hop over to Île de la Cité next door to experience Notre-Dame cathedral, la Sainte-Chapelle, Place Dauphine, and the quaint—and surprisingly calm—highly historic streets in between. Oui, there will be tourists, but also some spots carved out for locals.
You want to stroll down the Seine, you need to stroll down the Seine—Parisians love it and when the weather is cooperating, are there all of the time—a result of the unique development of the Berges de Seine over the last few years. It went from multi-lane highway to frolic zone for pedestrians, cyclists, and alcohol appreciation meetings alike. Read in-depth to decode it according to your tastes and plans for the day as the vibe varies quite a bit from cheap, youthful, and boisterous East to still-lovely but touristy, 15€-for-a-mediocre-cocktail, West side (If you can see the Eiffel Tower…)