Le Marais, an area bridging the 3rd and 4th arrondissments in Paris, on the Rive Droite, or Right Bank of the Seine River, is home to some of Paris most scenic spots. Traditionally a bourgeois area, as the City of Lights has modernized, so too has Le Marais.
In the 16th century the aristocracy in France built large residences in the area (see Place de Vosges below), but as the royals relocated to Versailles, the district saw waves of various groups settling in to call the marvelous Marais home.
The Jewish community found refuge in Le Marais, as seen at the Agoudas Hakehilos Synagogue in 10 rue Pavée and on the heart of the Jewish Quartier in Rue de Rosiers.
Le Marais, particularly towards the North near République, is also famed for a strong Chinese community, and southwest near Saint-Croix de la Bretonnerie and Vieille du Temple a well established, if not very touristy, gay community is to be found, having established their presence in the fabulous and borgeouis Le Marais in the 1980s.
In 1968 Le Marais became the first secteur sauvegardé, or protected sector, of Paris, due to the abundance of so many museums, art galleries and historic sites. The building facades are all protected, which explains why so many buildings may have a misleading shop signs. That the shoe shop may be in a building marked Boulangerie (bakery) is of historical significance, not any sort of attempt to trick tourists on their trip to the City of Lights! Of course so many of these signs are vintage and truly gorgeous, some are faience, hand painted, sculpted and even made of stained glass and are truly a part of the wonder of Marais!
What to do in Marais The Sites
Visit the Musée Picasso, H™tel Salé 5, rue de Thorigny, for a look at several thousand of Picasso s works. For a treat, do not miss the nearby Apparemment café, an amazing wine bar, a must visit if in the area. The home wealthy manuscript seller and reputed alchemist a la Harry Potter Nicolas Flamel, 51 rue de Montmorency, disputably the oldest house in Paris, and now home to restaurant Auberge Nicolas Flamel.
Check out the private collection of art lover Ernest Cognac-Jayat at the Musée Cognacq-Jay, 8 rue Elzevir, Paris 3e, in the 16th- century Hotel Donon. Soak up the history of Paris in the Musée Carnavalet, in H™tel Carnavalet, in 23, rue de Sévigné.
If in Paris on a Sunday, one of the rare streets completely open on the day of rest is the famous rue des Francs-Bourgeois, once a street where artisan weavers worked, today a major center of fashion and design and one of the Marais\' most popular shopping areas.
Nearby is the Rue Rambuteau, the main market street in Le Marais, as well as March des Enfants Rouges, the oldest food market in Paris. Opened in 1615, this Open Air Market in Rue de Bretagne has over 20 stalls filled with the finest products from the countryside.
Bask in the glorious gardens and dramatic design of the former Royal Residence, H™tel de Sens, in the Rue des Nonnains des Hy¸res.
Place des Vosges, including the home of Victor Hugo and café Ma Bourgogne, might just be Paris most beautiful square with its covered galleries leading out from Hotel de Sully off the rue de Birague. At the Place des Vosges you will find l\'Ambroisie, a 3 Michelin starred restaurant rivaling the best restaurants in the world. Or perhaps you would like to pull up and plop down for a rest on Place des Vosges, as it is one of the few squares where you can sit in the grass in Paris. Either way, Place des Vosges will not fail to entertain, as animation abounds here under the arcades as usually Classical and Jazz music is played, which sets the mood magnificently with the terrasse atmosphere under the arcades here.
Saint Paul Village is a series of interconnected courtyards rich with art galleries, fine antiques, food ships and artisan boutiques along with frequent weekend yard sales. Check out the Place de Marche Sainte-Catherine on a weekday morning to experience just how quaint and tranquil Le Marais can be.
What to do in Marais The Shops
Check out Culture, just near the synagogue in 17, rue Pavée. Culture offers discounted art and coffee table books, calendars, postcards, and other reasonably priced books.
Drop in to Dom, in rue Ste Croix de la Bretonnerie for a constantly changing selection of funky gifts, furniture, and housewares.
Art du Bureau in 47, rue des Francs-Bourgeois, carries trendy bags, watches, writing implements in great colors and materials. Right in Franc-Bourgeois find Metal Pintus, which crafts and sells sturdy silver and bronze jewelry.
If it s jewelry you are looking for, Miravidi in rue St Paul has simple geometric acrylic necklaces and bracelets in ever changing color selections.
My, my! Mademoiselle Vegas in 48 rue Charlot literally rocks, with unique rock and roll attire for rock stars and rock wannabes of all ages, including custom made baby suits!
Luxury clothing designer Gaspard Yurkievich has his flagship boutique in Marais in rue Charlot, where you will find women's and men's pret-a-porter, hosiery, shoes, bags and jewelry.
At chocolate maker Jadis et Gourmande in 39, rue des Archives, this home made luxury chocolate can be crafted into letters, so you can write your own messages about your trip to Paris like I love Paris or Wonderful Marais.
Mariage Fr¸res, an exclusive tea house in 30, Rue du Bourg Tibourg boasts a super chic clientele and offers a choice of more than 400 different teas.
Right in the rue Rosiers is a Russian/Yiddish specialty shop called Finkelsztajn Sacha, where a delicious deli serves bread, pastries and other specialty goods.
The bread and cakes at La Fougasse in 25, rue de Bretagne are most certainly worth peeking your heading in for!
Top restaurants in Le Marais include:
Caves Saint-Gilles, Tapas and wine bar in 4 rue Saint Gilles
Chez Julien, a tiny throw back to turn of the century bistros in 1,rue du Pont Louis-Philippe
Les Fous d en face, a bistro in 3 rue du Bourg-Tibourg
La chaise au plafond in 10, rue de Tresor, is a classy cafe always worth a visit
Les Philosophes, read a review of the cafe in 28 rue Vieille du Temple. here
Le dome du Marais in 53, rue Francs-Bourgeois is located in one of the most unusual settings in Paris with well-priced, delicious meals.
Exploring Le Marais can tire you out, so stop in for some stress relief at Ségo Spa in 15, rue Beautreillis, for a modern, cheerful yet peaceful spa experience. (30 for 45 minutes).
If it s more sun than spa you seek, then hurry over to Paris-Plage, or Paris Beach, in the south of the Marais. In July and August cars are banned from the roads on the banks of the Seine, and motorways are replaced by sandy beaches and palm trees for an entire month.
GETTING THERE Le Marais
Metro stops: Bastille, Saint-Paul and Hotel-de-Ville.
Jessica Ainley who is a professional travel writer and the author of this article. Paris Hideaways vacation rentals offers a large selection of Paris apartments for short-term rentals. Staying in a Paris apartment rental or in a vacation rental is an economical way to travel and live in Paris!
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