The fame of Le Marais is undeniable. Highly appreciated by Parisian "bobos," the gay community, the Jewish community, as well as tourists, it is one of the most historically rich neighborhoods in Paris. Located on the right bank of the Seine River, it stretches between Rue Beaubourg on the west side, Place de la Bastille on the east side, Place de la République to the North, and the Seine River to the South. From the Beaubourg Center to the charming Place des Vosges, from typical small restaurants to upscale fashion boutiques, the Marais, with its two faces, continues to fascinate.
A formerly deserted upscale district
In the 12th century, religious orders settled in the marshy area just above the Seine River. This area, prone to regular floods from the Seine, remained neglected by the wealthiest populations who preferred the neighborhoods of Saint-Honoré and Saint-Germain. However, the creation of the Place Royale in the 17th century (now known as Place des Vosges) attracted the bourgeois elite of Paris. Yet, a century later, they deserted it once again, replaced by industrious artisans. In the 19th century, the Jewish community settled around Rue des Rosiers.
Today, the originality and beauty of this neighborhood largely stem from its escape from the massive Haussmann renovation that swept through Paris in the 19th century. As a result, the Marais retained its charming winding streets and historic hotels.
The 20th century also left splendid marks on Le Marais. The Centre Beaubourg adds a completely different facet to the neighborhood. Impressive, metallic, and colorful, this modern art museum is worth visiting, if only for the incredible view of Parisian rooftops it offers from its sixth floor. The esplanade of the center is one of the favorite gathering places for caricaturists, art automatons, and street singers who entertain passersby. Just a stone's throw away, on Rue Brisemiche, the Stravinsky Fountain and its astonishing multicolored water-spouting machines attract children seeking refreshment on hot days.
Le Marais with its two faces
A lively hub of the gay community, the neighborhood is filled with trendy restaurants, bars, boutiques, and bookstores, creating an atmosphere that is both festive and refined. Rue des Rosiers perfectly exemplifies the duality that defines this district. As the main artery of the old Jewish quarter, it offers everything that constitutes Jewish culture: falafel stands, a synagogue, Ashkenazi bookstores, kosher shops, and tempting pastry displays. Vibrant and full of life, the area has managed to retain its popular character but now faces the onslaught of high-fashion boutiques that settle in, slightly diminishing its picturesque charm.
Lastly, the Place des Vosges is the ultimate must-see in Le Marais. The perfect architectural harmony of the square is enhanced by the 36 pavilions with blue roofs and red bricks that surround it. At number 6, the house where Victor Hugo lived between 1832 and 1848 is open to visitors.
The must-see attractions in Paris
For groups of 10 or more
Cruises with meals or private evenings