After several visits to Paris always skipping this quarter, I spent there a full week. It gave me a new image of this trendy area, where many recent investments didn't compromise its history and traditional look.
Built in the middle of the 16th century, in a former graveyard, this fountain got its name from the church of Innocents, built in memory of the children killed by Herodes.
Later on, in the 18th century the church was replaced by a market, but the church was moved to the centre of a new square, giving name to it.
Commissioned by King Louis XIII in 1627, église Saint-Paul Saint-Louis was originally built for the Jesuits. Its first official name was église Saint-Louis de la maison professe des Jésuites, but later also took on "Saint Paul" after a nearby church dedicated to Saint Paul, which was destroyed in 1796. The church's design was heavily influenced by Italian architecture, but with French touches, and deviates tremendously from typical Gothic churches of Paris. The dome was one of the first in Paris and the façade resembles that of the nearby church of Saint Gervais, which was completed only a decade earlier. In October 2008, église Saint-Paul Saint-Louis stuck out like a sore thumb amid surrounding buildings due to its blackened façade. It had escaped the meticulous cleaning that the rest of Paris had undergone over the past two decades and was a reminder of what all of Paris had been like up to the 1980s. The church subsequently went through the much-needed restoration, and the glorious façade was unveiled in Summer 2012. See the attached photos for before and after.
Designed in 1872 by the architect Marcellin-Emmanuel Varcollier, la Synagogue des Tournelles is the second largest synagogue in Paris. It serves the Ashkenazi Jewish community of Paris, many of whom are originally from central and eastern Europe. The architecture, perhaps considered neo-Romanesque, is similar to that of la Grande Synagogue de la Victoire (the largest synagogue in Paris) in the 9th arrondissement. It is named after the street it is on, rue des Tournelles, in the Marais district, right behind Place des Vosges.
Probably more famous then the church I just mentioned, but certainly not better for me, is the Hôtel de Sens. The only thing I can say about it is that it looks 'different' with the little towers. But it didn't leave me in awe at all.
Hôtel de Sens is one of the 3 remaining medieval private residences in Paris and it was built between 1475 and 1507. Nowadays it houses Bibliothèque Forney, where you can admire decorative and fine arts, as well as industrial techniques. I haven't been inside, so I can't judge about that. I just can say that the outside is disappointing, and for me not worth making a detour for.
On Sunday afternoon le Marais is absolutely mobbed with people. There are lots of kosher markets, boulangeries, bookstores, and restaurants and it is also an area where the young trendy designers have set up shop. You will also find lots of nonkosher bars and restaurants as well as museums and theatres.
I took my Parisian landlady there and she was amazed. Even though her brother-in-law lives in le Marais, she had no idea that on Sundays it was the liveliest place in Paris.
Check out the website below. It will tell you everything you want to know about le Marais.
This is a Hôtel in the old sense of the word, mean a stately and elaborate private residence. It is named after its most famous owner, the first Duke of Sully, who bought it in 1634 and fixed it up as his retirement residence.
This is now the head office of the Center of National Monuments, and also houses an exhibition hall and a library.
Second photo: People in the first courtyard of the Hôtel de Sully, coming in from Rue Saint-Antoine. From here you can walk through and come out the back end at Place des Vosges.
Third photo: Here's what it looks like from the street, Rue Saint-Antoine.
Fourth photo: Across the street there is a small pastry shop with the marvelous name Aux Désirs de Manon, referring to the heroine of the novel Manon Lescaut by Abbé Prévost (1697-1763) -- a novel which was the inspiration for operas by Auber, Massenet, Puccini and Henze, among others.
One of many hôtels particuliers in le Marais district, Hôtel Libéral Bruant carries the name of the architect who designed l'Hôtel des Invalides, among other structures in Paris. He built this mansion in 1685 as his own residence in a Louis XIV style, with arched windows and four niches containing the busts of Roman emperors. The façade's pediment contains elaborate bas-reliefs of cherubs and vegetal motifs. Over the course of history, the mansion changed hands several times until it was purchased in 1967 by the State and turned into a museum. Unfortunately, the museum shut down a couple of decades later and the Hôtel Libéral Bruant has since been closed.
Considered one of the most beautiful Renaissance-period palaces in Paris (of a Louis XIII style), Hôtel de Sully was completed in 1630. It was built for the compte financier Mesme-Gallet, but only four years later, a former royal financial minister, the Duke of Sully, purchased the property. It retained his name as it continued to be owned by his family for centuries before changing hands a number of times afterwards. When the mansion was partially destroyed in WWII, the government purchased it and restored it to its former glory. The façades of the first courtyard are beautifully decorated, and above the main entrance are two sculptures representing Spring and Summer. The second courtyard contains a separate pavilion, known as l'Orangerie, which gives access to Place des Vosges behind. Nowadays, Hôtel de Sully houses la Caisse nationale des monuments historiques et des sites, an institution responsible for historic sites in France, and the contains a photographic exhibition hall on its ground floor.
Dedicated to the patron saint of the right bank of Paris, Église Saint-Merri is considered one of the city's most beautiful Gothic churches. Saint Merri was a 7th century abbot, originally known as Medericus, who died near the spot where this church was erected. Although it was first built in the 12th century AD, the existing church is from a 16th century reconstruction. Only parts of the lower façade, which is intricately decorated with Gothic sculptures and is facing rue Saint-Martin, are from the original structure. Its small Gothic bell tower, which possesses the oldest church bell in Paris (1331), was originally one floor higher, but the top floor was destroyed in a 19th century fire and was never rebuilt. Although Saint-Merri is a fairly typical French Gothic church, its interior is unusually well lit, especially when the sun shines through the upper Gothic windows. Église Saint-Merri is located in the heart of the Marais district of Paris.
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