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Hotel Dieu – a hidden gem in the very centre of Paris!


Thousands of people are crossing the Île-de-la-Cité each day. Posing in front of the remains of the Notre Dame Cathedral, dropping a lucky coin on Paris’ point zero, or visiting the flower market.

But only very few visitors – and locals alike – are paying attention to the walls left from the Notre Dame cathedral. Most are just walking by the inconspicuous glass portal on place Jean Paul II, the square in front of the remains of the cathedral.



Honestly, I did it a 100 times during the last 14 years. I did not notice the building, neither the glass portal and not even the eye catching blue wood door just next to the entrance of the Hotel Dieu.


Hotel Dieu – visiting or trespassing?

But then, a few weeks back, by chance, something caught my attention. I peered left when passing by and I got suddenly a glimpse of pillars, ambulatories and statues. I was hit by surprised and stopped, unable to decide what do. What was that? Is it a public place? Can I simply walk in? And why didn’t I notice it before? It took me a moment to realise that it’s a hospital and therefore it should be ok to walk in, right?

I wasn’t at my comfortable best when walking through the door but the guide at the entrance didn’t sent me away after I greeted him so I figured it’s alright just to walk on. It did feel a wee bit like trespassing though 🙂

And what should I say? This place must be one of the biggest secrets of Paris, funnily despite it’s location in the very centre of Paris! It’s just right under everyones nose!

And that’s the reason why you should visit: it’s right under everyones nose, free to get in and stands in a mind blowing contrast to everything that is around!



Short history of the Hotel Dieu

The Hotel Dieu is actually not only the first hospital in the city of Paris, it is also the oldest still operating hospital world wide. It was founded in 651 AD by Saint Landry but the building as we can see it today was built between 1867 and 1878.

Apart from being the emergency centre for the first 9 arrondissements, the Hotel Dieu is specialised on diabetes and endocrine sicknesses and since recently also on ophthalmology.

However, that’s hopefully not why you’re visiting!

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How to visit the Hotel Dieu

When you enter the entrance hall, keep left and enter the court yard. You’ll be amazed by the architecture – and the calm! Especially in contrast to the busy and bustling Notre Dame forecourt and the Latin Quarter! Most likely you’re lucky and be’ll one of only a handful visitors enjoying the surprising deserted silence.

When leaving the place in front of Notre Dame and entering the Hotel Dieu, it seems like entering another dimension. It’s quiet, impressive and .. free to go anywhere. Don’t hesitate to open (respectfully) doors, explore, peek around and check where your path will lead you!


The Hotel Dieu is located literally in the centre of Paris, just next to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral: if you stand in front of Notre Dame, the entrance to the Hospital Hotel Dieu lays just on your left.

The closes Metro station is Cité, served by line 4.

The Hotel Dieu is not also great for just visiting: if you need some rest or are in search for a quiet spot to enjoy your take away lunch, the Hotel Dieu is the perfect place to elude Paris for a moment!




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Hotel Dieu
Hidden Gem in Paris – Hotel Dieu