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Historical Path through Le Marais

Place des Vosges

Dive into the enchanting streets of Le Marais, one of Paris’s most historic and dynamic districts. This 2 to 3-hour exploration not only traverses through centuries of rich history and culture but also unveils hidden treasures, magnificent photo ops, and great spots for Parisian delicacies.

Starting Point: Métro Temple. Your adventure begins at Temple metro station (line 3).

Go southwards along rue du temple, then turn left in rue Dupetit-Thouars.

Stop 1 : Carreau du Temple: this former market has been transformed into a multi-purpose space hosting events, exhibitions, and sports activities. Its architecture and vibrant atmosphere make it a must-visit spot in the northern part of Le Marais.

Then take rue Eugène Spuller on the side of Carreau du Temple, then turn left when you arrive in rue de Bretagne. You’ll quickly see a market entrance on the right.

Stop 2: Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris’s oldest covered market. Named after the 16th-century orphanage that once stood here, the market offers a plethora of fresh produce, international cuisines, and a lively atmosphere. It’s a great spot for a morning snack or to capture the local Parisian life in your photos.

Keep on walking East in rue de Bretagne, then turn right in rue Debelleyme and walk a few minutes, until you reach rue de Thorigny. These beautiful ancient streets are typical of old Paris. Turn right in this street, 100m further, you’ll find Musee Picasso on the right.

Stop 3: Musée Picasso. If you like the painter’s works, pay a visit to this great museum, featuring the most extensive collections of Pablo Picasso’s works. Located in the Hôtel Salé, this museum not only showcases the artist’s paintings but also his sculptures, ceramics, and drawings, offering a deep dive into his creative genius.

Keep on walking rue de Thorigny, then turn right in rue Elzevir. At the end of this street, turn right in rue des Francs Bourgeois, walk a bit, then turn left in rue des Hospitalières Saint-Gervais.

This area is really great for a drink or a lunch, as well as for shopping. Continue till the end of the street, then turn left in rue des Rosiers.

Stop 4: Rue des Rosiers, the heart of the Jewish quarter. This street is famous for its falafel shops, bakeries, and unique boutiques. L’As du Fallafel is a popular choice for a quick bite, offering flavors that have delighted visitors and locals for decades. There’s often a queue but it’s worth the wait.

If you prefer typical French treats, stop at Yann Couvreur’s pâtisserie (23bis rue des Rosiers), where you’re sure to get a wonderful experience through delicious pastries and snacks.

Stop 5: Hôtel de Ville. Turn right to take a look at Paris’s city hall. The building’s magnificent facade and the square’s historical significance offer a splendid backdrop for photography enthusiasts.

In front the City Hall, you can find BHV –Bazar de L’Hôtel de Ville-, my favourite departement store in Paris (and the one Parisians prefer along with Bon Marché). Worth a visit if you like to do some shopping. Be sure to visit 1st floor, great for creative activities and DIY (makes great presents), the 3rd for coooking tools and the 4th for decoration. If you have kids, 5th floor has a great choice of toys and kids clothes.

Follow rue de Rivoli, leaving BHV on your left and Hotel de Ville on your right. Turn left when you reach rue de Sévigné to get deep into Le Marais streets, then turn right on rue des Francs-Bourgeois. You can see many fashion shops on your way. But after crossing Rue de Turenne, you’ll arrive at magnifiscent Place des Vosges.

Stop 6: Place des Vosges. Conceived by King Henri IV and inaugurated in 1612 to celebrate the wedding of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, it is acclaimed as the first planned square in Paris. Characterized by its uniform architecture, the square is surrounded by 36 brick and stone pavilions, all featuring steeply pitched slate roofs, which create a remarkable harmony and elegance that has been admired for centuries. At its center lies a lush, symmetrical garden, offering a tranquil retreat with neatly trimmed lawns, mature linden trees, and majestic fountains.

The Place des Vosges is not only a testament to the architectural brilliance of the early 17th century but also a lively hub of activity, where locals and tourists alike gather to bask in its timeless beauty. The houses lining the square have hosted famous residents, including Victor Hugo, whose home is now a museum dedicated to his life and works. The Place des Vosges remains a profound symbol of Parisian elegance and a cherished enclave of cultural and historical significance, inviting all who visit to step back in time and experience the grandeur of Parisian life.

Stop 7: Maison de Victor Hugo (6 Place des Vosges). Explore the former residence of one of France’s most beloved writers, offering insights into his life and works.

The Maison de Victor Hugo occupies the second floor of the Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée, where Hugo lived for 16 years from 1832 to 1848. The museum presents an intimate glimpse into the private life of the author of “Les Misérables” and “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame,” showcasing his personal belongings, original manuscripts, and art collections. For kids, the museum offers a mixed experience. While younger visitors may find the historical furnishings and texts less engaging, older children with an interest in literature or history might be fascinated by Hugo’s multifaceted creativity and the stories behind his iconic novels. But even if your kids don’t know about Victor Hugo, it can still have some interest as an old house.

You can finish your tour with a drink and a pastry (or a meal) at Carette (25 Place des Vosges), an institution. You must try their millefeuille and their tarte aux fraises (strawberry pie)!

From Place des Vosges, take rue de Birague to get to rue Saint-Antoine and then take metro Saint-Paul to leave. Or you can continue by turning left in rue Saint-Antoine and walk to Place de la Bastille for another walk in a famous Parisian area (famous for being the starting point of French Revolution in 1789, when the Bastille prison was taken over by the crowd).

FAQ about Le Marais area:

What is Le Marais known for?

Le Marais is renowned for its deep historical roots, stunning preserved architecture, and vibrant cultural scene. It’s home to beautiful medieval streets, private mansions (hôtels particuliers), trendy boutiques, and a diverse array of restaurants and bars. The area also holds significant importance for the Jewish community and the LGBTQ+ community, adding to its rich cultural tapestry.

How do I get to Le Marais?

Le Marais is accessible by various Metro lines, including lines 1, 3, 11, and 8, with stations like Saint-Paul, Hôtel de Ville, and Chemin Vert serving as gateways. Buses and walking from nearby central Paris locations are also convenient options.

What architectural styles can be found in Le Marais?

Le Marais showcases a mix of medieval, Renaissance, and classical architecture. The area’s hôtels particuliers, such as Hôtel de Sully, are prime examples of private mansions with courtyards and gardens, characteristic of the district’s historical charm.

Are there any parks or green spaces in Le Marais?

Yes, the Place des Vosges offers a serene green space with perfectly manicured lawns and shaded walkways. The Jardin Anne-Frank, a hidden garden, provides a quiet retreat from the bustling city.

Where can I find the best nightlife in Le Marais?

Le Marais is famous for its lively nightlife, with numerous bars, clubs, and gay bars catering to a diverse crowd. Rue des Rosiers and Rue Vieille-du-Temple are bustling with activity, offering everything from chic cocktail bars to casual pubs.

Where are the best places to shop in Le Marais?

Le Marais is a shopping haven, boasting a mix of high-end boutiques, vintage shops, and independent designers. Rue des Francs-Bourgeois is a popular street for fashion and lifestyle stores, while the BHV Marais department store offers a wide range of goods. Don’t miss the concept stores and artisanal shops scattered throughout the neighborhood.

How can I experience the Jewish culture in Le Marais?

The Jewish Quarter in Le Marais, centered around Rue des Rosiers, offers a deep dive into Jewish culture with kosher bakeries, bookstores, and synagogues like the Agoudas Hakehilos Synagogue. The Jewish Art and History Museum also provides insights into the community’s rich history in Paris.

Can you recommend any museums in Le Marais?

Le Marais is home to several notable museums, including the Picasso Museum, which houses an extensive collection of Picasso’s works. The Carnavalet Museum, dedicated to the history of Paris, and the Maison de Victor Hugo, showcasing the life of the famous writer, are also must-visits.

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