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The Ile de la Cite is an island in the middle of the River Seine. At the Eastern end of the island, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame is one of the most visited attractions in the world.

Pilgrims, tourists, students of stained glass and flying buttresses, the devout and the curious, come to drink in the essence of this remarkable destination.

At the most westerly tip of the island, jutting out towards the Seine, is a quiet square.

On the North side of this square, the island is connected by the Pont Neuf bridge, built by King Henri IV in 1607, to the Right Bank of Paris. On the South side of the square, the Pont Neuf leads to the Left Bank.

King Henri IV was a well-liked King, who was responsible for the Edict of Nantes, issued in 1598. This edict granted religious freedom to the Protestants, also known as Huguenots. Henri also built the Pont Neuf Bridge, the first bridge in Paris designed for traffic only. Bridges back then were usually lined with houses along both sides, with a pathway down the middle for traffic flow.

After his death, Henri's widow, Marie de Medici commissioned a statue of the king on horseback and it was placed on its pedestal at the tip of the island in 1618. In 1792, during the height of the French Revolution, the statue was destroyed, as were many vestiges of the aristocracy. In 1818, during the Restoration period, when the Bourbon Monarchy was reinstated, a new statue was completed, made from an original mold of the former statue. Sculptor Francois-Frederic Lemot cast the new sculpture and put four boxes inside of it. One contained a history of the king, the second held a 17th century document regarding the erection of the original statue, a third contained the record of how the new sculpture was commissioned, and finally, there was a list of contributors associated with the creation of the new monument.

On a quiet weekday morning, you might find yourself alone in the square. The frenetic comings and goings, the continual din of traffic and pedestrians, is momentarily forgotten. The Louvre is on the right and the dome of the Institut de France is to the left and the river is everywhere else.

You could sit here and eat a madeleine or write in your journal or imagine what a day in the life of a Parisian must have been like four hundred years ago.

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Ile de la Cite



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