Unlike the Île de la Cité, the Île Saint-Louis, and the Île aux Cygnes, the last of Paris’ four spectacular islands, the Île Louviers, also known as the Île aux Javiaux, isn’t actually an island at all. The strip of water separating it from the mainland of the 4th arrondissement was filled in with soil in 1847 and instead makes the Île Louviers a minuscule neighbourhood. What it lacks in size (and accurate nomenclature), it makes up for in charm and the unusual diversions that can be found there. Read on and find out what all the fuss is about with this Paris island paradise.
The most notable of the Île Louviers’ attractions is the Pavillon de l’Arsenal. Created in 1988, this museum is dedicated to the architecture and urban planning of Paris and the broader metropolitan area. It has extensive archives on this subject as well as regular exhibitions. Minutes around the corner is Le Printemps des Poètes, the national resource center for poetry. They train, advise and support living poets as well as entertain the interested public with readings and conferences. Another major player in the area’s cultural life is the Centre des Monuments Nationaux. The organisation’s mission is to conserve, restore and maintain places and artefacts of cultural importance and to make them accessible to the public. You can access information on hundreds of the country’s sites on their website. If that seems like just about enough culture for one afternoon, then you can rest your brain in the Square Henri-Galli and let your eyes wander across the Seine towards the Île Saint-Louis. Be sure to take a good look at the Rimbaud Statue in La place du Père-Teilhard-de-Chardin once you’ve recharged.
Pop across the Boulevard Henri IV to Le Sully if you need a pre or post-museum coffee. The café-cum-restaurant is around 100 years in age and has developed a well-deserved reputation for its cured meat selection. Further down the would-be island, towards the Pont Morland is L’Affranchi, a solid choice for great homemade French cuisine, fine wine and, if the moment takes you, a cocktail. If you’d rather just grab something and go, Les Petits Pains Ronds is a popular local bakery. Head around the corner to check out the boats moored in the Bassin de l’Arsenal or those passing by the Quai Henri IV while you tuck into your picnic.
This is definitely a quarter for book lovers. As well as the public library and those attached to the various museums and cultural centers, there is also Comics Culture. It’s a haven for comic book aficionados, selling new and vintage issues in French and English. They also have an extensive online shop. If you’re vegan then you should maybe look away now because there is also a leather and fur emporium, Ventiuno, in the neighborhood.