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A district of Paris where you'll find almost no Parisian.

                                                       r   | |
        //  ||   \\                  2nd               .   | |   3rd
      // `========\\================================== S ==| |==
    //      ||     \\                                  t   | |
Mad ||      ||      \\                                 -   | |   4th
    ||   P.Vendôme   \\                       Halles   D   | |
8th ||      ||        \\ P.Royal                       e   | |
    ||      ||                     r.Rivoli            n   | |
    ||================================================ i===|=|==
Conc||    Tuileries          Louvre                    s   | |
    ||                                        P.Neuf     Châtelet
~ ~ ~ the ~ ~ Seine ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ /``||``````````|`|```
-------------------------------------------._`-||___   Ile Cité
         7th                            6th         `------|-|---
                                                           | |

Everything in italics is outside the district. The scale is the same as the one used for the 2nd district. The top direction is not north, but north-east-north.

Population was only 16,888 in 1990 (least populated district), and land area is 1,83 km2 (2nd smallest district).

Ile de la Cité and the center of Paris

While these things are being done by Caesar, Labienus (...) marches with four legions to Lutetia (which is a town of the Parisii, situated on an island on the river Seine) (Julius Caesar, Gallic wars).

The island is the boat-shaped Ile de la Cité (City Island). Nowadays the western part of the island belongs to the 1st district and hosts the Palace of Justice as well as the very pleasant Place Dauphine which, despite its location in the middle of the tourist area, manages to retain its quietness owing to its isolation from the Seine and the main streets.

The western tip of the island is crossed by the oldest bridge in Paris: the Pont-Neuf (New Bridge, because it was new once), wrapped by Christo in the 80s. Have a walk on the banks of the Seine there, because there are two beautiful things in Paris: the first one is the Champs-Elysées at Christmas, and the other one is a June sunset on the banks of the Seine. Then pretend you didn't enjoy it because there were two many tourists.

One of the top three department stores in Paris stands at the northern end of Pont-Neuf, on the right bank. La Samaritaine was founded by a man who started his business selling fabrics under an umbrella on the Pont-Neuf. The store is less beautiful inside than the Galeries Lafayette on boulevard Haussmann, but you should still go in there and take the elevator to the 9th stair. There you'll have an amazing (and free) 360-degree view on Paris, its buildings, its roofs and the curve of the Seine. The geographical center of Paris is located one or two blocks away, between La Samaritaine and the Louvre.

The royal town

The Louvre Palace and the Jardin des Tuileries occupy more than one kilometer of the right bank. What can I say more? The Louvre hosts one of the largest art museums in the world (Egyptian, Mesopotomian and European art from the beginning to the 19th century; African art has been added recently). You enter the museum in the middle of a courtyard, through a big glass pyramid built by I. M. Pei in the 80s. The purpose of the pyramid is apparently to be as incompatible as possible with the rest of the building. Nevertheless it's pretty at night. You'll need to queue, but here is a tip: there is an alternate and usually less crowded entrance in the Carrousel du Louvre, a shopping center which you can access from the ugly Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, west of the Palace. However, you will still have to queue inside the pyramid to get a ticket, and maybe another time at the entrance of the museum itself.

The Jardin des Tuileries extends from the Palace to the Place de la Concorde on the historical axis. It's a typical French garden with straight alleys and round basins, and a good place to read in the very comfortable iron chairs. It hosts a pleasant fun fair during summer.

From the Palace, you may join the 6th district by crossing the Seine on the Pont des Arts, a bridge for pedestrians. Many tourists come here in the evening to eat and play guitar, probably because they have seen that in a movie. The view on the 6th district, on the Louvre and Ile de la Cité is, of course, wonderful.

In the streets

Or you may go north of the Palace and visit another pleasant French garden in the second courtyard of Palais-Royal. The first courtyard hosts dozens of columns designed by Buren, which installation in the 80s caused a great scandal. Nowadays, they're mostly a playground for kids who don't care about modern art. Don't miss these gardens because there are very few parks in Paris on the right bank. The Palais-Royal also hosts the Comédie-Française, the most famous theatre troupe in France, created by Louis XIV after Molière's death to preserve the French drama and particularly Molière's plays. Very cheap seats (30F) are available before each show, so go there si vous comprenez le français.

The rest of the district is a network of pleasant Parisian streets, from the arcades of rue de Rivoli and its English bookshops to the Avenue de l'Opéra which gives a great point of view on the magnificent Opera House. Wander in the streets behind the Palais-Royal and you'll find beautiful galleries which will give you an alternate way to cross the district as well as the 2nd district.

And finally go west to rue de la Paix and Place Vendôme, where the price of the jewels isn't even indicated because they're priceless. Or go east to Les Halles, Châtelet and rue Saint-Denis for a meal or a night club. That's one of the only places in Paris where you can have a meal at 4 a.m.

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