The Marais is one of Paris’ oldest and most famous neighborhoods. Home to scores of galleries, shops, cafés and restaurants and riddled with narrow cobble-stoned streets, it is one of the best Parisian neighborhoods to explore for the leisurely stroller.
The Marais (literally meaning “marshland”) originally designated the geography of this small area astride the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. Arguably the center of Paris in terms of fashion, art, nightlife and people-watching, chic pedestrians – tourists and locals alike – can be found wandering the small, cobble-stoned streets lined with old hotels particuliers, slanting stone facades and museums hidden behind lush interior courtyards. The Marais is also one of Paris’ oldest Jewish neighborhoods, and on Sundays the picturesque rue des Rosiers fills with Parisians fiending for Paris’ best chalah and fallafel.
Peaceful Square du Temple garden by rue de Bretagne – courtesy of Lalupa
The Picasso museum, located on the rue de Thorigny, is a great option for serious fans as the permanent collection features a wide variety of works from different periods of his life. The Musée Carnavalet, official museum of the history of Paris, is also a great educational choice if you’re looking for a little more in-depth background on the various shapes and sizes Paris, its monuments, its monarchy and its population have taken on throughout the ages. The Maison Européenne de la Photographie, a museum devoted entirely to contemporary photography, is also definitely worth a see for fans of this genre.
If all the intellectualizing has whet your appetite, make your way to the Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris’ oldest covered market. Unlike most markets intended exclusively for take-home grocery shopping, you can order some of the delicious concoctions on offer in the many restaurant stands in the market and eat them sur place at one of the picnic tables. The nearby rue de Bretagne is also jam-packed with wonderful food shops, cafés and restaurants to explore.
Marché des enfants rouges – Vingt Paris
You may, however, just want to stock up on snacks to take home for later and make the most of the Marais’ best known culinary item right away: the fallafel. Wander down the rue des Rosiers on a Sunday and you will soon realize that 90% of the crowds are there to wait in line for as long as it takes to taste the famous “As du Fallafel”.
If you can control your hunger pangs, the long line is well worth it: warm pita positively overloaded with crispy falafel, cabbage, eggplant, lettuce, tomato, hummus and a variety of other condiments and toppings. Grab a fruit juice to wash it down and park yourself in the nearby Place des Vosges to feast.
Once you have recovered, your mind may turn to more materialistic urges such as shopping. With a delightfully high concentration of worthy boutiques, you can’t go wrong wandering down the rue Vieille du Temple, the rue des Francs-Bourgeois, rue Charlot and the rue Saintonge.
For dinner some HiP favorites are Glou (great for people-watching) or Le Petit Thai (delicious and authentic Thai food) — both wonderful addresses that fill up quickly! So call ahead or show up early. Other great places to eat in the Marais are Breakfast in America (if you are craving a classic American brunch in a typical American diner setting), La Perla, Chez Janou, and Enoteca.
For an after-dinner coffee or sweet fix, Pozzetto has delicious Italian-style coffee and gelato on the rue du Roi de Sicile.
Garden of a hôtel particulier, rue Payenne. Photo Erica Berman.
- Metro access: Bastille, St. Paul, Hotel de Ville, Rambuteau, Chemin Vert.
- Musée Picasso, 5, Rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris, +33 1 42 71 25 21
- Musée Carnavalet, 23, rue de Sévigné,, 75003, +33 1 44 59 58 58
- Marché des Enfants Rouges, 39 rue de Bretagne, 75003
- Glou Restaurant, 101 rue vieille du Temple, 75003 +331 42 74 44 32
- Maison Européenne de la Photographie, 5 rue de Fourcy, 75004
- Au Petit Thai, 4 rue du Roi de sicile, 75004 +33 1 42 72 75 75
- Chez Janou, 2 rue Roger Verlomme, 75003, +33 1 42 72 28 41
- Breakfast in America, 4 rue Malehr, 75004, +33 1 42 72 40 21
- La Perla, 26 rue François Miron 75004, +33 1 42 77 59 40
- Enoteca, 25, rue Charles V, 75004, +33 1 42 78 91 44
- Pozzetto, 39, rue du Roi de Sicile, 75004
Typical Marais architecture. Photo Erica Berman.
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