Le Marais#5 in Best Things To Do in Paris
- 4.5Food Scene
Straddling the 3ème and 4ème arrondissements (districts), Le Marais is one of Paris' oldest and coolest districts – so cool, in fact, that French writer Victor Hugo (author of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Les Misérables") called it home. With all of its cobblestone streets, stately stone architecture and tucked away courtyards, it's easy to feel as if you're strolling through medieval Paris. Back in the day, Le Marais housed some notable French royalty. King Henry IV was the one responsible for the construction of the Place des Vosges, Paris' oldest square. And Louis XIV called this neighborhood home for a while until he decided to move his family and court to Versailles. Much of Le Marais also survived the destruction made during the French Revolution.
Despite the Old-World French atmosphere, the neighborhood has played host to multiple cultures throughout its lifetime. Since the 13th century, Le Marais has been the city's Jewish quarter. The quarter's history can be most felt along rue des Rosiers, which feature some old-school delis and bakeries. Today, Le Marais is the epicenter of the city's gay community, with chic boutiques and vibrant nightlife options outnumbering traditional Jewish establishments. Le Marais is also known for its delectable falafel (especially at L’As du Fallafel), shopping and numerous art galleries and museums. Here you can find the Centre Pompidou, the National Archives of France, the Musée Picasso and Musée des Arts et Métiers, the oldest science museum in Europe. In addition to the neighborhood's collection of boutiques, Le Marais is known for its numerous vintage shops and specialty stores, including papeteries. Antique hunters will get a load of good finds at the Village Saint-Paul while foodies will delight in a visit to the Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris' oldest market.
Visitors say the best (and easiest) way to experience Le Marais is to simply walk around. Strolling through its lively streets, travelers couldn't help but fall in love with Le Marais and all its offerings. Le Marais' vast amenities, including its many delectable eateries, kept travelers entertained (and satiated) for hours on end while the neighborhood's beautiful architecture left many in awe. This, in combination with the district's overall fun atmosphere, made the neighborhood a choice place to stay for travelers while in Paris (the area is known for its swanky hotels). If you're interested in learning more about Le Marais' rich history, consider joining a walking tour. DiscoverWalks offers free walking tours around the neighborhood every day at 2:30 p.m.
Le Marais is free to explore all hours of the day, however individual business may have their own entry fees or hours. The best starting point to explore Le Marais is from Saint-Paul, which services line 1. The Sully-Morland (line 7) and Rambuteau (line 11) metro stops also border Le Marais.
More Best Things To Do in Paris
#1 Notre-Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris)
Note that the cathedral sustained significant damage as a result of a fire on April 15, 2019. Its wooden roof and spire collapsed during the fire. It remains closed until further notice.
Like the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is seen as a Parisian icon. Located right along the picturesque River Seine, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is considered a Gothic masterpiece and is often regarded as one of the best Gothic cathedrals of its kind in the world. Construction of the famous cathedral started in the late 10th century and final touches weren't made until nearly 200 years later. And once you get an eyeful of the cathedral yourself, you'll start to understand why it took so long.
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