Urban walk in the Marais

In the centre of Paris, straddling the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, the Marais district is like no other. Although it's best known for being a festive and avant-garde area, it's a complete district that's sure to satisfy every taste. Its architecture takes visitors on a journey back in time, while its many museums offer the chance to learn about a whole host of subjects, from the history of the city at the Musée Carnavalet to contemporary art at the Centre Georges Pompidou... People also come here to sample local and international specialities on the terraces of the restaurants or during a bucolic picnic on the Place des Vosges. It's also a popular spot for shopaholics, with major international names rubbing shoulders with small boutiques, antique shops and concept stores. You could almost compare the Marais district to a small village in the heart of Paris.

A bar in the Marais district.

- © Elena Dijour / Shutterstock

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The history of the Marais district

Located in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements of Paris, the Marais district was originallya marshy area, hence its name. In the 12th century, religious orders moved in and set up farms.

It was in the 17th century that the nobility began to take an interest in the area, building a large number ofprivate mansions that can still be admired today. These include the Hôtel de Béthune-Sully and the Hôtel Salé (home to the Picasso museum), both listed historic buildings, not to mention those surrounding the famous Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris.

Place des Vosges in the Marais district.

- © Catarina Belova / Shutterstock

There are also some older buildings, such as the 16th-century half-timbered houses on rue François Miron and Nicolas Flamel's house on rue Montmorency, the oldest house in Paris, built in 1407. And don't miss a trip to the Hôtel de Ville to admire its grandiose architecture! Built in the 14th century, it was burnt down in 1871 and rebuilt. A stroll through the Marais will take you back through the centuries to the history of the capital.

What to do in the Marais district

A cultural bath

We were talking about history... If you're interested in this subject, take a trip to the Musée Carnavalet, which traces the history of Paris from its origins to the present day: access to its impressive collection is free! The Musée Cognacq-Jay recreates theatmosphere of Parisian homes during the Age of Enlightenment in a 16th-century town house. On the Place des Vosges, you can also visit Victor Hugo's house, where the writer lived from 1832 to 1848.

The facade of the Centre Pompidou in the Marais district.

- © nikolpetr / Shutterstock

In the Marais, visitors can also go to the Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme or the Musée Picasso, but the star museum of the district is the Centre George Pompidou! With its stunningly colourful architecture and impressive collection ofcontemporary art, it's a visit not to be missed. If you're looking for something less mainstream, you'll find what you're looking for in the district's many art galleries.

A temple to shopping

The Marais district is also a meeting place for fashionistas from all over the world, who flock to the BHV Marais, a must-visit Parisian department stores' since 1856. The streets of the Marais are also littered with shops. The big names have set up shop on rue du Temple, rue Vieille-du-Temple and rue Charlot, while small boutiques, concept stores and second-hand shops are scattered throughout the backstreets. The Village Saint-Paul-Le-Marais, for example, is home to dozens of antique and design shops.

BHV Marais.

- © frantic00 / Shutterstock

If you're looking for fresh produce, head for the Marché des Enfants Rouges, the oldest covered market in the capital! On Wednesdays and Saturdays, there's also a market on the Place Baudoyer.

A gastronomic mecca

The Marais district boasts an impressive concentration of restaurants celebrating French cuisine, as well as specialities from all over the world. The district has its fair share of Michelin-starred gourmet restaurants, such as L'Ambroisie and L'Auberge Nicolas Flamel, alongside must-try street food addresses such as L'As du Fallafel and Bob's Kitchen. In between, there are hundreds of typically Parisian brasseries and exotic restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets.

A restaurant in the Marais district.

- © Lilly Trott / Shutterstock

If you've got a sweet tooth, don't worry: the bakeries, patisseries and tearooms in the Marais won't disappoint! Pancakes, waffles and ice creams are also on offer: when temperatures rise, you'll need to be patient before you can order from Amorino or Bachir.

The heart of the Parisian party

As well as restaurants, the Marais district is also home to numerous bars and nightclubs that attract Parisians and tourists alike. Here, generations, genres and styles mingle in a joyous mix. The terraces fill up as soon as you leave work and the beer flows freely. As night falls, the music starts to fill the air and the revellers begin to dance.

Activists at the pride march in the Marais district.

- © Victor Joly / Shutterstock

If you're looking for something a little more original, there's karaoke, minigolf, escape games, a theatre and many other more or less unusual activities. The Marais district is also known as an emblematic place for the LGBT+ community.

Our favourite hotel in the Marais district

Hôtel Le Presbytère 3* Paris

Hôtel Le Presbytère 3*

Right in the heart of the Marais, this 3-star hotel welcomes you in comfortable, beautifully decorated rooms. Special mention for the superb breakfast!
9.3 Fabulous
£236 / night

Practical information for the Marais district

The Marais is one of those typically Parisian districts that attracts locals and tourists alike. Whether you're looking to eat, visit, have a drink or party, we urge you to take a trip there during your next stay in Paris!

🚌 How do I get to the Marais district?

The Marais district is very well served by the Paris metro:

  • Chemin Vert station: metro 8
  • Filles du Calvaire station: metro 8
  • Hôtel de Ville station: metros 1 and 11
  • Pont Marie station: metro 7
  • Rambuteau station: metro 11
  • République station: metros 3, 5, 8, 9 and 11
  • Saint Paul station: metro 1
  • Sully Morland station: metro 7
  • Temple station: metro 3

Many buses run through the area, and there are also several Velib' stations.

Haussmann-style buildings in the Marais district.

- © Pascale Gueret / Shutterstock

A few tips for your visit

  • The Marais isone of the safest districts in Paris, but you should still be careful, especially when leaving bars or nightclubs.
  • In fine weather, the area can be very crowded!
  • The sometimes narrow streets of the Marais can be difficult to navigate for people with reduced mobility or pushchairs.
by Editorial Team
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