A day like no other in the heart of Paris

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A day like no other in the heart of Paris

Once upon a time, Paris was an island. And today, the beating heart of the capital still enchants visitors on the Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis. Memorable experiences are made here.

The lapping of the Seine below is the only sound. You are in the very centre of Paris and yet, calm reigns over the Île Saint-Louis. As you stroll along Quai d'Anjou, you go past an inconspicuous facade. Curiosity piqued, you step inside the Hôtel de Lauzun. Facing the stuccowork, gilding and frescoes, you get a definite feeling of déjà-vu. The place is regularly used as a set for films and period dramas. Some evenings, classical concerts shake the majestic beams of the building, under the watchful gaze of the marble statues.

History lingers everywhere in this overlooked quarter of the City of Lights. The L'Île aux Images gallery is bursting with treasures from the 19th and 20th centuries. Here is Picasso pulling a face for André Villers' camera. Further on, Art Deco posters by Mucha captivate with their rich and delicate shapes.

You have already chosen a place for lunch. It will be at the favourite restaurant of France's most famous couple of the 1950s, singer Yves Montand and actress Simone Signoret. You will enjoy your meal at Caveau du Palais, looking out on to Place Dauphine. The cobblestones resonate with the sound of children playing and having fun between the trees. Meanwhile, the chef is busy in the kitchen preparing his secret-recipe duck confit for your delight.

Your adventure on the islands ends in Paris's gem of flamboyant Gothic architecture, Sainte-Chapelle. At the end of the day, as the tide of visitors ebbs away, you make the most of the last rays of sun to admire this treasure of French heritage. You enter by the lower chapel. In the half-light, the painted ceiling seems to lighten up the room with yellow stars. A small staircase, even more sombre, leads you to the upper chapel. Take a deep breath, open your eyes and let the magic happens. All around, stained-glass windows take over the walls, soaring up to a vaulted roof of unimaginable height. Stone gives way to glass, airy, light and brightly coloured. Your journey to the heart of Paris comes to an end here, amidst utter calm and wonderment.

Hôtel de Lauzun
17 quai d'Anjou
75004 Paris
France
+33 (0)1 43 54 27 14

L'Île aux Images
51 rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Île
75004 Paris
France
+33 (0)1 56 24 15 22
www.vintage-photos-lithos-paris.com/?PGFLngID=1

Caveau du Palais
17–19 place Dauphine
75001 Paris
France
+33 (0)1 43 26 04 28
www.caveaudupalais.fr/?lang=en

Sainte-Chapelle
8 boulevard du Palais
75001 Paris
France
+33 (0)1 53 40 60 80
www.sainte-chapelle.fr/en/