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Category: History of Paris



In spring or summer it is pleasant to walk on the Cité island in the heart of Paris along the quays or in the streets of the neighborhood.

Come discover the key places of this island. Here is also a brief summary of the history of this island.

History of the appearance of the island of the Cité

The island of the Cité is the heart of Paris. This is where the first nucleus of Lutetia was developed. The first inhabitants are fishermen of the Gallic tribe Parisii. In Gallo-Roman times the island is surrounded by ramparts and a forum is built on the island.

It is in the 13th century that Maurice de Sully built the famous cathedral, Notre Dame de Paris.
During the French Revolution, the former Royal Palace was transformed into a Palace of Justice (the same as currently found on the island).

Until the end of the 18th century the island had about 15000 inhabitants and included 4 chapels and about twenty churches. In the 19th century, the island was redeveloped by the Haussmann style of the time and the narrow streets near the cathedral are enlarged.

Places to visit during a walk on the Island of the Cité

It takes about half an hour to tour the island of the Cité by taking the docks but about 1 day to visit all the monuments of the island.

Among these historic monuments, we can mention the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Conciergerie, the Palais de Justice, the Sainte Chapelle …

You can finish your visit by passing in front of the two key institutions of the island: the Prefecture of Police and the Quai des Orfèvres.

A walk on the docks in spring or summer is also a good time.

For more information about the Island de la Cité, visit franceballade.com



The bridges of Paris are part of the architecture and history of the capital. There are 37 bridges in the capital where locals and tourists like enjoy walking and observing the city all year long. But do you know the history of the bridges of Paris?

Here is a panorama of the origins of the main bridges of the city of Paris.

The history of bridges in the East of Paris

The 174-meter long Austerlitz railway station bridge connects Austerlitz station to Gare de Lyon. It was erected between 1802 and 1807. Its 5 arches were enlarged by 30 m in 1885 and the cast parapets are replaced the same year by stone parapets. The lion surrounded by flags symbolizes the Republic.

The 168 m long Tolbiac Bridge is the last bridge in the city built of stone masonry. Two plaques on the bridge commemorate the tragic event of October 3, 1943 when four French airmen died in an English plane.

The origins of the bridges in the center of Paris

The 62 m long Saint-Michel bridge was built at the request of Napoleon III, the “N” affixed to the bridge symbolizing the latter.

The Small Bridge – Cardinal Lustiger of 31 m was built between 1852 and 1853 and was rebuilt many times following floods of the Seine or after having been carried away by flames.

The history of West Paris bridges

The Bir-Hakeim Bridge (formerly called Passy Footbridge), 247 m long, was built between 1903 and 1905 by the engineer Louis Biette and the architect Jean-Camille Formigé. The lower deck is for cars while on the upper deck passes line 6 of the Paris metro. It was in 1946 that it was renamed Bir-Hakeim Bridge in memory of a French victory over the Germans in Libya.

The Mirabeau bridge, which has three steel spans, is 165 m long. His four sculptures represent Navigation, Abundance, the City of Paris and Commerce.

The 142m long Alma Bridge was built between 1969 and 1973. Only a statue of the old bridge – the famous Zouave – has been preserved. It allows to measure the flood level of the Seine.

For more information, you can look at the website www.paris1900.artnouveau.com

The origin of the names of monuments of Paris


When you are visiting Paris, you will visit some well-known monuments and places. But do you know what is behind some names of monuments in Paris?

Here are some Parisian monuments and their history.

The Conciergerie

The Conciergerie is a monument dating from the 13th century and which designates the former residence of the Kings of France and more particularly that of the Concierge of the Ancien Régime which represented the royal authority.
The place was later transformed into a prison in 1370 but the term “Concierge” remains and refers to the prison warden.

The Tuileries Garden

This garden is located on the same site as an old tile factory at the time of Catherine de Medicis. She built the Tuileries Palace destroyed in 1883 during the Paris Commune. Today, only the name “Jardin des Tuileries” remains.

The Sorbonne

This name comes from the founder of Sorbonne College “Robert de Sorbon”. This man decided to create in 1257 a college for the poor people. He then accesses to the King’s houses located on rue de la Sorbonne. This term was synonymous for a long time with “University of Paris” and a place of philosophical and political debates.

The Place des Vosges

This place is created by Henry IV and is named at the very beginning “Place Royale” then the “Place des Fédérés” and “Place d’Indivisibilité” in 1793. Napoleon wanted the departments to pay quickly their tax. It is the department of the Vosges that carried out this task; the place then becomes the “Place des Vosges”.

The Samaritaine

The Samaritaine originally meant a pump at the Pont Neuf which supplied the Louvre with water. A man named Ernest Cognacq buied a building not far from there that becomes the stores of the Samaritaine.

To discover more historical information about Parisian places, see the following page:

The parisian metro : the stories behind some of its famous stations


When you take the metro, it is not insignificant that some stations names call you. Do you know the story behind some names of metro stations? Here are some names of metro stations and their historical references.

The history of the metro station “Boulogne Jean Jaurès”

He was born in 1859. Jean Jaures began his career as a philosophy teacher, then became a journalist and founded “L’Humanité” before involving himself as a pacifist activist in several political causes. He was assassinated in 1914 in Paris. Currently two metro stations in Paris has his name.

The history of the metro station “Victor Hugo”

Victor Hugo was first a poet, a writer and a senator. He is the author of the famous novels “Les Miserables” and “Notre Dame de Paris” which have been adapted to the cinema and which today belong to the classics of French literature. At its burial in 1885, more than 2 million people were present!

The history of the metro station “Louise Michel”

Louise Michel is one of the two women to give her name to an underground station. Initially she was a school teacher, then she involved in political battles. She was also the friend of Victor Hugo. She died in 1905 and was buried in the cemetery of Levallois-Perret.

The history of the Montparnasse-Bienvenue metro station

Fulgence Montaparnasse was an Engineer and is at the origin of the creation of the Paris metro, of drinking water, of the funicular of Belleville and of the development of the Buttes Chaumont park. In 1881 he was the victim of a work accident and had an amputation of his left arm. The first metro line was inaugurated in 1900.

The history of the “Gare de l’Est” metro station

This station was built between 1847 and 1850 and it is the station of departure of many soldiers to the East during the first World War. Today the trains leads in particular to Strasbourg, the seat of the European Parliament, the symbol of peace.

To discover other stories of parisian metro names, go to the website metro.paris/fr