The Marais is one of the most beautiful parts of Paris – and one of the only areas that preserved the narrow streets and architectural styles of Medieval and Renaissance Paris. Historically, it was the Jewish quarter, and in modern times it still is… but it is also a funky, hip area for people to hang out in or to go antique-ing. A stroll in this neighborhood and you can find kosher butchers, trendy clothing boutiques, breathtaking architecture, antique shops, and many shops with Jewish paraphernalia. Just be sure that you stop for lunch at the world famous falafel house called L'As du Falafel (located at 34 rue des Rosiers, closed Saturdays). Unfortunately, they do not have a website, but this is the place where celebrities come to get their falafel because it is so delicious.
Two other great lunch options are Breizh Café (109 rue Vieille du Temple, closed Mondays and Tuesdays) and Le Loir Dans la Theiere (3 rue des Rosiers, open every day).
These are some things worth checking out in the Marais:
The rue des Francs-Bourgeois, rue Vieille du Temple and rue des Archives are the three principle strolling streets for the shops, cafes and general ambiance. Many of the shops there will be open on Sundays. While on the rue des Francs-Bourgeois, make sure to pop your heads into the courtyard of the Carnavalet Museum to check out its wonderful gardens, beautiful this time of year! The buildings are in fact two adjacent Renaissance mansions.
Place des Vosges- Take a stroll at Place des Vosges (metro: St. Paul or Bastille, lines 1, 5, and 8). This beautiful square is the oldest square in Paris and was inaugurated in 1612 under the name Place Royale. In 1800, it changed its name to honor the administrative department called Vosges (located in the north-eastern France) because they were the first department to pay their taxes. Napoleon himself referred to Place des Vosges as the ‘jewel of Paris’, the most beautiful place in the whole city.
Victor Hugo's House- A notable inhabitant of number 6 Place des Vosges was the author and poet Victor Hugo. Hugo lived here from 1832- 1848, after he completed the Hunchback of Notre Dame. His former home is now a museum dedicated to him, which features an impressive collection of his drawings and paintings. Open from 10am-5:40pm. To see the permanent collection is free, for temporary exhibits the price is 7.70 euros. It is closed on Mondays.
While you’re over there, make sure you stop at 4 rue du Pas de la Mule – there is a gem of an artisan chocolate shop there called Josephine Vannier. The creations are unique – chocolate masks, mini pianos, replicas of vintage ads… (Closed Monday)
Hotel de Sens – this majestic Medieval building is now an art library. It was built between 1475 and 1519. Stop for a moment to admire the elegant formal gardens – grab a bench in the sun for a bit of relaxation time! And look on the outside wall of the third floor for the cannonball lodged there in 1830. 1 rue Figuier 75004
Village St. Paul – nestled between rue des Jardins St-Paul and rue Saint-Paul just south of rue Charlemagne is Village St Paul, an incredible antique, art, and artisan market! The interconnected courtyards allow you to enter along any of the streets mentioned above. This is really a unique place to go – many Parisians don’t even know about it! Open every day.
Hotel de Sully – walk through the main courtyard to see the Greek-inspired statues in this beautiful mansion, built between 1625 and 1630. 62 rue Saint-Antoine.
Carnavalet Museum- The Paris history museum has artifacts on display that chart the history of Paris from Gallo-Roman times to present day. Some of France's most important documents, paintings, and other objects from the French Revolution are housed here. 23 rue de Sévigné 75003.
Open from 10am-6pm Tuesday-Sunday (Closed Mondays). To see the permanent collection is free.
See the link for more details http://en.parisinfo.com/museum-monuments/232/musee-carnavalet-musee-de-l-histoire-de-paris?1
The Museum of Jewish Art and History- This museum showcases important Jewish art, artifacts and culture, much of which was destroyed during World War II. This museum pays tribute to the rich history of Jewish people in Europe and in particular France. It is open from 11am-6pm and the cost is 6.80 euros per person (audioguide included in price). Located in the Hotel de Saint-Aignan, 71 rue du Temple (this is not a hotel, it’s a ‘hotel particulier’ which is basically an inner-city mansion). Learn more here: http://www.mahj.org/en/index.php
La Memorial de la SHOAH- This is a research center dedicated to WWII. It is open from 10am- 5pm (Closed Saturdays), is free of charge and features documentation and photographs of significant value. Also has temporary exhibits on Jewish writers, artists, and others who have or are doing great things for society. If you have any Jewish family that were in Europe during WWII, you can look them up - For more details, see here: http://www.memorialdelashoah.org/getHomeAction.do?langage=en
17, rue Geoffroy-l'Asnier
The oldest food market in Paris, Marché des Enfants Rouges, is also in the Marais (the northern part). If you have time, you should make the visit (even if it is all covered in scaffolding right now)! If you do decide that you want to take a look, just keep in mind it is best not to go between 1-4pm during the week, as some of the stands will be closed for lunch. It is closed on Mondays. Follow the arrow along rue des Archives on the map until reaching rue de Bretagne. Rue de Bretagne turns into rue Froissart further east, which you can see on the map. Make a right on rue de Bretagne and after about a block and a half you will see the entrances to the market on the right.
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