In spite of the crowds, the old laneways of the Seine island remain romantic. Enjoy a stroll here amongst the exclusive shops and pretty cafes.
The Île de la Cité is Paris' heart. The first inhabitants, the "Parisi" settled here as far back as Roman times. This part of the city is also home to a gem of Gothic architecture, Notre Dame Cathedral. The defensive towers of the Conciergerie and the light-flooded Sainte-Chapelle round out the medieval impression created by this vibrant area. On the neighbouring Île Saint-Louis, the city's most desirable and expensive residential district, it is somewhat more easygoing. While the rive droite has traditionally been more bourgeois, the Quartier Latin and Saint-Germain-des-Près on the left bank of the Seine have been a hub of intellectual life since time immemorial. In the 1950s, this was where the Existentialists met. Today, these places tend to be visited more by tourists and the employees of the surrounding publishing houses and bookshops. The country's most famous educational institutions have been based in the Quartier Latin (in other words, a district in which Latin used to be spoken), since the 13th century. The area also contains cafés and night spots and the Jardin de Luxembourg, one of Paris' most popular parks.