The Marais is a beautiful part of Paris and perfect to get 'lost' in. I loved wandering around in the small streets, look at all the houses, which have so many architectural details. Old doors, decorated with wonderful wooden carvings, a funny cornerstone build in the wall, balconies, balconies and more balconies, often filled with flowerpots. I just didn’t know where to look anymore! In the old days the Marais used to be a marshland, which is really hard to believe when you walk around this area these days…
There are some famous houses in this area, like Hôtel des Francs-Boureois, Hôtel de Sully and Hôtel de Lamoignon, all which I planned to look at. But strangely enough I forgot about those plans within no time. The Marais had put its spell on me and made me love it as a whole. I forgot my urge to see specific houses; I just wanted to absorb it all. I was too amazed by all the details of the houses, the grandeur; all I wanted tot do was look around one more corner to see what surprises I would find there……
Our stroll through the Marais continued, and we ended up at the crossing where the Rue the St.Antoine splits into two and becomes the Rue de Rivoli and Rue Francois Miron. Here your eyes most likely will be drawn to the church St.Paul-St.Louis. I didn't think the façade of the building was so beautiful, but it did intrigue me, so I decided to take a look inside the church. And I was certainly not disappointed!
St.Paul-St.Louis is a Jesuit church and dates back to 1627. The one thing that strikes the most when entering this church is the 60 metres high dome. I loved the way the light filtered through the windows of the dome and I was just in awe by the architecture. The church is rather bare as it was looted and emptied during the Revolution, but the architecture compensates for all of that. To be honest: I didn't miss it at all, as I was so enchanted by the architecture.
There is some art left in the church, and the most famous piece is Delacroix's "Christ in the Garden of Olives." My attention however was drawn to this sculpture in the right wing of the church. The sunlight coming through the window touched the sculpture in a magical way, giving it an emotion and extra dimension that touched my heart.
The church is open from Monday to Saturday: 8:00-19:30 and on Sundays from 15:99-19:00. I really can recommend going in here to take a look when you are in the area!
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.
From the moment you find yourself heading into the district known as Le Marais (the marsh) you know you are in a very special part of Paris. Once the most fashionable part of the city, the quartier is stuffed with beautiful grand houses - known as "hotels" though few, if any, have room rates posted. Those that open their doors to the public are mostly museums and they are worth visiting as much for the architecture as the collections they display. The oldest - the Hotel de Sens - is a library now, open to anyone but only by appointment. Its warm golden stone walls and mediaeval turrets are a delight though, so do seek it out.
As the fortunes of the Marais have risen and fallen, and risen again, one thing has remained constant - this has always been the place that Paris' Jewish population considered their quartier and even today kosher restaurants, boulangeries and charcuteries pepper the streets - and this is still the only area of Paris where shops are open on Sundays - including the excellent Richard -Lenoir market.
There's much more to the Marais than Sunday shopping though - the historic quartier is home to more museums than any other part of Paris, including the Picasso Museum (housed in the lovely 17th century Hotel de Sale - worthy of a visit in its own right) and the Cognacq-Jay Museum -a gift to the city of the exquisite collection of 18th Century paintings and decorative arts gathered together by the owners of the Le Samaritaine store. It too is housed in yet another beautiful house - this time the 16th century Hotel Denon.
Had enough museums? The Marais is renowned for its trend-setting shops and boutiques, small galleries, smart cafes where the art of people-watching is a time-honoured pastime. Or you can simply stroll the narrow streets, keeping your eyes open for anything that catches them. You'll be richly rewarded.
Welcome to the Marais! Most people think of it as the center for gay community or Jewish life but it's so much more than that. If you're a museum buff, then this surely is the area for you; if you're not a museum buff, then there is surely one museum that will suit your taste: Picasso, modern art, Victor Hugo, several pre-French-Revolutionary War royalist places, science, dolls (Musée de la Poupée), & Jewish artifacts (including works by Chagall).
If museums just aren't your thing period, then surely there is enough shopping (antiques, jewelry, textiles, boutiques, papeteries) to suit your tastes. Or just hang out in the Place des Vosges enjoying the park, or people watching from one of the cafés surrounding the Place? Not satisfied yet, then perhaps just meandering thru the winding maze of cobblestone streets, discovering pockets of greenery such as the Place du Marché Ste-Catherine? It definitely has great appeal for me.
Photos: Feb 06
Le Marais covers the biggest parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, from Seine to the streets Beaubourg and Turbigo and the avenues Republique and Bastille.
In Le Marais is located the famous Place des Vosges, commissioned by Henri IV and made between 1605-1612, being the signal of the new urbanization of the city.
As a consequence, numerous luxury hotels have been built in the area, some of them being still in good conditions.
At the beginning of 20C, Le Marais, abandoned by its famous inhabitants, became a popular district dominated mainly by industry and handicraft, most of its beautiful hotels being abandoned, but following the Malraux law of 1962 the construction works to this valuable patrimony started again.
You really should not miss a walk on Le Marais beautiful narrow streets in order to admire these splendid buildings.
Commissioned by Tristan de Salazar in 1475, Hotel de Sens is the oldest civil building from the end of Middle Ages in Paris.
The building was meant to become the residence of the Archbishop of Sens.
Queen Margot, Henri IV’s wife, came to live here in 1605.
The small but elegant garden was made in 1955 in renaissance style.
With its imposing facade, Eglise St-Gervais - St-Protais is dedicated to the brothers Gervase and Protase, Roman officers martyred by Nero.
Having beautiful stained-glass windows from 16 C, the church is also adorned with other works of art such as the Flemish oil panel on wood of the Passion and a wooden Christ by Preault from 1840.
Build initially as the Jesus Church in Rome, Eglise St-Paul - St-Louis was subsequently modified and restructured.
Inside the church is spacious and decorated with elegant statues.
For continuing the tour in Le Marais, the second door on the right side of church gives access to Passage Saint-Paul.
Housed by the beautiful Hotel de Sale, built from 1656 to 1659, the museum is dedicated to Pablo Ruiz Picasso, one of the most important modern painters.
Hotel de Sale took this name from its owner, a salt tax collector.
The museum collection includes over 250 paintings, sculptures, collages and over 3000 drawings.
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.
The Marais really is one of the best parts of Paris. The area was originally swamp land (Marais = Swamp) but was slowly reclaimed until it was full of typical small parisian streets. There are a whole lot of museums and galleries in the Marais featuring everything from Picasso to the Paris History Museum (Carnavalet) plus Victor Hugo and Passage de Retz (Avante Garde).
A nice circuit is to get off at St Paul Metro (line 1) and walk over the road and into the Marais or alternatively at the Bastille Metro stop and down Rue Ste Antoine then right onto rue de Birague and into Place des Vosges (Paris' oldest square). From there it's up toward Rue de Thorigny and the Picasso Museum in the converted Hotel Sale. From there you are close to Les Iles Grecques and some very interesting deli type food (for that perfect picnic). From here you can either go toward Temple Metro station or back toward rue Ste Antoine and Musee Carnavalet.
This area is also central to a large part of the Jewish community so the shops and their opening times are reflective of this (many will be closed on Saturday being the Sabbath day). There are some good cafes and restaurants, especially around Place du Marche Ste-Catherine and Place des Vosges (though here they are a bit expensive).
Built in 1705, Hotel de Rohan was meant to become the residence of Bishop of Strasbourg, future Cardinal de Rohan.
The building served later as home to the state press (Imprimerie Nationale) and national archives.
Musee Carnavalet is the museum of the history of Paris and displays a wide collection presenting the development of the city until the modern times.
Housed by Hotel Carnavalet, whose construction started in 1548 and was bought by the city council in 1866 for this purpose, and by Hotel Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, the museum has a varied collection of paintings, objects of art and photographs.
Opening hours: 10:00 - 18:00
Closed on Mondays.
Free admission to the permanent collection.
Funny that I don't have a picture of the district where I "lived" for more than a week. But anyway, Le Marais district is worth a visit.
The district itself has great shops and restaurants, surrounded by superb façades. The neighbourhood itself is a paradise for pedestrians (like myself): you can quietly wander around, enjoy a cup of tea, get a bite of a falafel or devour a brunch. Everything is open on Sundays, so be sure to join parisians on the last day of the week. The area is surrounded by mansions the nobility had in early times, that give you the "old-but-rich" feeling...
Le Marais has become the centre of gay culture in Paris over the last few years. So there are many men & decoration stores, plus a lot of places to eat, like restaurants and bakery shops.