holiday in Paris, choose to stay in Le Marais, the most historic and culturally enhanced area of the French capital. Opulent buildings, magnificent museums and unique stores and café are just the tip of the iceberg in this most fashionable nook of Paris.
Le Marais enjoyed quite noble beginnings, being the district of choice for the French élite, yet suffered one of France’s most ironic transitions, when it became home to the new country’s struggling artists, philosophers and literati. Nowadays this translates to a district adorned with extravagant old buildings yet inhabited by local and foreign bohemian and alternative types, representing the true essence of modern day France. Book your holiday rental apartment in Le Marais and let us take you through its street in a walking tour you’ll never forget.
To get the most out of your Le Marais tour, start your day in one of the most iconic Paris landmarks: the Place de la Bastille, site of the 1789 revolution which saw heads roll and a new French era begin. Granted, there’s not much left of the old Bastille (only an enormous monument erected in honour of the French Revolutions), but the area still boasts an old-world charm and remnants of its historical importance. For an early morning coffee, head to Café des Phares which is on the western rim of the Bastille roundabout. This most famous meeting point was established in honour of the many famous philosophers who lived in Le Marais and is a weekly gathering spot for those with a serious argumentative side to their personalities. Discuss the meaning of life, or the existence of God, or perhaps just enjoy a café au lait and a croissant and admire the constant flow of people and cars.
Next, walk up Rue St Antoine and take the third street to the right to reach Place des Vosges, the gorgeous Royal Garden built by King Henry IV in the early 1600s. Considered by many to be the most striking square in Paris, it is believed this is the square all other European plazas were styled upon. Even Napoleon, who loved to tear down most symbols of aristocracy, considered Place des Vosges the real ‘gem’ of Paris. These gardens served as a relaxing for the royals, and were also the site where King Henry II was killed during a jousting match. Many important figures of national history like Victor Hugo, Madame de Sevigne, Bossuet and poet Theodore Gautier all lived in the historic buildings which surround the gardens.
Backtrack to Rue St Antoine and continue walking westward, until you reach Rue Malher and turn left. Only two blocks up will see you intersect with Rue des Rosiers, a stunning cobblestone street long considered the heart and centre of Le Marais.
The history of ‘the street of rose bushes’ (Rue de Rosiers) actually explains the popularity of this district. Once you set foot on Rue des Rosiers you will be right in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, hence the reason why this is one of the only districts which does not shut down on Sundays. The Jewish population in Paris was thriving well up until WWII, and the tragic consequences of that war saw its numbers tragically dwindle by 75%. Luckily, the culture has revived and is yet again flourishing right on this avenue, so dive into its myriad of Jewish bookstores, bakeries and pastry shops and you’ll be pleasantly rewarded. For lunch, head to the most famous store here, L’As de Falafel and gorge on what is regarded as the best falafel roll in Europe! This is also the street for your haute-couture shopping, although it is trendier hippy fashion items you’ll find, rather than classic designer gear which is normally found in boutiques on the Champs-Élysée.
If you’re in the mood for a quiet and relaxing afternoon, then we suggest you head back towards Rue Saint-Paul (a side street off Rue Saint Antoine), where an amazing collection of antique shops and art galleries are to be found. If you’re travelling with children, make sure to stop at the Museum of Magic (Musée de la Magie) so they too can experience the magic of Le Marais.