Once a swamp, Le Marais has changed dramatically over the years. The neighbourhood, which was once synonymous with Judaism in Paris, became a hub for LGBT Parisians from the 1980s. Today, the area is one of the most popular places to live and shop.
Rue des Rosiers
The Rue des Rosiers is a historic street at the heart of Paris’s Jewish quarter. The street is home to a variety of Jewish restaurants as well as both high-end and vintage clothing stores. Weave through tourists as you window-shop, stopping to chow down on a pastrami sandwich from an American-style deli or snack on hamantaschen at a Jewish bakery. The street’s most popular place to eat is L’As du Fallafel, which serves hefty pita sandwiches filled with falafel balls and smoked eggplant. Overall, the Rue des Rosiers reflects the neighbourhood’s Jewish heritage and its new trendy reputation, making it a must-see in Le Marais.
The Place des Vosges is the oldest planned square in Paris. This expansive square is the ideal place to recuperate after wandering Le Marais. Rows of trimmed trees enclose the square, which features four large fountains and a bronze statue of Louis XIII. The surrounding buildings house shops, galleries, restaurants and, most notably, the Maison de Victor Hugo, where the author lived and wrote for many years. Visit the small museum to see mementos from Hugo’s childhood as well as the rooms where he wrote Les Misérables (1862).
This museum tackles the ambitious task of charting Paris’s history, from Lutetia to present day. Using paintings, items of clothing, scale models and more, the museum guides visitors through the dense and complex history of the city. The museum has around 100 rooms, so set aside the better part of an afternoon before attempting to delve into Paris’s past. The landscaping in the museum’s gardens adds to the atmosphere – it’s as if visitors have stepped into another time. The Musée Carnavalet is closed for renovation until the end of 2019.
This beloved art museum reopened in 2014 after five years of renovation. Located in a 17th-century hôtel particulier, the museum features approximately 5,000 works by artist Pablo Picasso. The museum also showcases artwork from Picasso’s personal collection, including works by Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas and Henri Matisse. Tourists flock to this museum, so be sure to reserve a ticket online ahead of time.
Built in 1627 by the Jesuits, this visually stunning church is just steps away from the Saint-Paul Métro station. As the first Jesuit church in Paris, the Église Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis shaped the local Jesuit community. Today, the church is still active. It is free to visit, so step through the distinctive red doors to marvel at the sweeping stone interior lit by hanging chandeliers.
The Institut Suédois offers a glimpse into Swedish life and culture. The cultural centre houses a café, theatre, art museum and artist studios. During the summer, spend the afternoon in the institute’s back garden, where an outdoor café serves coffee, tea, smoothies, bagels and cakes. Order a thick slice of home-made carrot cake and people-watch from a bench or recline on a striped beach chair and lose yourself in a book. Fans of all things Swedish can even take language lessons at the institute.
In the last decade, the City of Paris transformed this run-down clothing market into a lively recreation centre. The space, which houses a boutique, bar, restaurant, gym and more, has become a hub of activity in the neighbourhood. Le Carreau du Temple also regularly hosts events, including September’s highly anticipated Street Food Temple, a festival featuring food trucks, workshops for children and concerts.
This spacious garden named after Anne Frank is at the end of a picturesque side street. Quiet and secluded, the garden offers the perfect escape from Le Marais’s small, crowded streets. Read a book under the garden’s beautiful trellis walkway or enjoy lunch beside the fountain. A playground offers the perfect distraction for children.
The Musée des Arts et Métiers is a science and technology museum housed in an old abbey. The museum traces the evolution of machines and modes of transportation, proving to be both entertaining and educational. Temporary exhibits add to the experience.