The Marais is my favorite neighborhood in Paris. I lived there for two years and it’s still where my husband and I try to find an apartment each time we visit. The Marais, meaning marsh in French, includes the 3rd and 4th arrondissements and offers 17th-century architecture, the city’s best street food and great shopping. The Marais is also one of the rare places in Paris that is lively on Sunday. Know if you go then you will encounter large crowds. I recommend visiting midweek when it’s quieter. Here is what to see, do and eat in the Marais.
Travelproper tip: The Marais is home to the Jewish Quarter of Paris and because of this many of the restaurants along Rue des Rosiers are closed on Saturday.
Place des Vosges
King Henry IV built this symmetric public space in the early 1600s as a place for the aristocracy to live and shop. It includes a park with manicured trees and fountains surrounded on fours sides by brick buildings with steeply-pitched roofs. The ground floors of the buildings have vaulted arcades lined with restaurants and art galleries. The light is beautiful in the park in the morning and at sunset. If you’re visiting Paris in the spring or summer, pick up provisions for a picnic at nearby Maison Plisson (93 Boulevard Beaumarchais, Paris 75003, +33 1 71 18 19 09)and take it to the park. The grassy areas are open during these seasons.
You can enter Place des Vosges from all four sides including the corner of Rue des Francs Bourgeois and Rue de Turenne to the east, from Rue du Pas de la Mule and Rue des Tournelles to the west, from Rue de Béarn to the north and from Rue de Birague to the south.
Travelproper tip: Place des Vosges is an excellent place to take photos. I think it’s best to go in the morning. The light is gorgeous and it’s usually quiet. It gets much busier from noon until the early evening.
Hôtel de Beauvais
Due to the popularity of Place des Vosges, the well-heeled began building their mansions or hôtel particulier in the Marias during the 1600s and that continued until Louis XIV built Versailles drawing many of them out of the city. One of the most stunning examples is the Hôtel de Beauvais on rue François Miron. It was built for the chambermaid of Louis XIV’s mother Anne of Austria. Catherine Beauvais reportedly told the young king and queen mother many secrets about the court and they rewarded her handsomely. Now a government building, the interior only open on European Heritage Days, but it is usually possible to walk into the courtyard so you can examine the architecture and stone bas reliefs more closely if you ask the guards nicely and supply an ID card.
68 Rue François Miron
+33 01 58 28 90 00
This massive market near the Bastille takes place every Thursday and Sunday. Must visit vendors include the Chicken Lady for spatchcocked birds flavored with things like honey and ginger, the vegetarian falafel stand for tomato and herb wraps and any of the organic fruit and vegetable purveyors for excellent produce.
8 Boulevard Richard Lenoir
+33 01 43 24 74 39
L’As du Fallafel
When you visit Rue des Rosiers in the Marais you must get a falafel at this legendary spot. Don’t be put off by the carnival like atmosphere, on busy days you pay for a ticket and then wait in line, the food really is good. The vegetarian falafel comes filled with plump falafels, marinated eggplant, hummus, shredded carrot and cucumbers and tahini. L’As du Falafel is closed on Saturday and lines are longest on Sunday.
32-34 Rue des Rosiers
+33 01 48 87 63 60
This lively Israeli street food restaurant feels a bit like a party especially in summer when people waiting for to-go orders, or a table, spill out onto the street. It’s very casual. You order at the counter, but the food—a whole head of roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes blistered in the oven and a delicious boeuf bourguignon pita with carrots and mustard is some of my favorite in Paris.
22 Rue des Ecouffes
+33 01 42 74 83 58
American Vintage is my favorite place in Paris for basics like soft t-shirts, tank tops and high waisted shorts. Don’t let the name fool you. American Vintage is a French company and the clothes are made in Portugal. There are locations throughout Paris, including two in the Marais, one of Rue des Francs Bourgeois and one of Rue Vieille du Temple. The Rue Vieille du Temple is the slightly larger of the two.
113 Rue Vieille du Temple
+33 01 42 74 80 87
If you want the cool girl French look just go here. It’s a bit pricey but if you can catch it during the Soldes, the sales that happen in France in winter and early summer, it’s a bargain.
47 Rue de Saintonge
+33 01 42 78 19 24
L’Éclair de Genie
Salted caramel, yuzu, and pistachio strawberry are just a few of the éclair flavors you’ll find at this creative patisserie in the Marais. There are L’Éclair de Genie’s throughout Paris, but this is the original.
14 Rue Pavée
+33 01 42 77 85 11
Le Pavilion de la Reine
This luxury boutique hotel has a prime position just beyond the covered arcades of Place des Vosges. The discreet location makes it feel like a secret. It has a small sign and a glass door that then leads you to a tranquil private courtyard and the entrance to the hotel. Guestrooms are all unique and some offer wood beam ceilings. Le Pavilion de la Reine has a small spa and is known for having one of the most knowledgeable concierge’s in the city. From $380 a night.
28 Place des Vosges
+33 01 40 29 19 19
Jules & Jim
Also in the Upper Marais, Hotel Jules and Jim offers a much more contemporary ambience. That’s because, while the frame of the 18thcentury building remains, everything else is new construction. Guestrooms feature wooden bedframes, tile showers and crisp white sheets. There’s a nice surprise within the hotel, a courtyard with a vertical garden and an adjacent bar serving specialty cocktails and Veuve Clicquot Champagne. From $179 a night.
11 Rue des Gravilliers
+33 01 44 54 13 13
Hôtel de la Place des Vosges
This lovely locally owned hotel is just a stone’s throw from Place des Vosges. Rooms are small, but tidy with modern furnishings. They also serve a nice breakfast. From $130 a night.
12 Rue de Birague
+33 01 42 72 02 64
Au Petit Fer à Cheval
The pretty bistro tables outside this picturesque wine bar on rue Vieille de Temple are nearly always occupied. Inside you’ll find a pretty horse-shoe shaped bar and a small dining room in back. Go for a coffee or for a glass of wine like a mineral Sancerre. The owners also own the wine shop across the street.
30 Rue Vieille du Temple
+33 01 42 72 47 47
If you’d like to learn more about the history of the Marais, take a look at this walking tour. And go here for information about the best hotels, events and day trips in Paris.
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