If you ask almost anyone to recommend you a Paris district, you will hear “Le Marais”. Paris apartments for rent in Le Marais are the most sought after and the neighbourhood, which crosses the 3ème and 4ème arrondissements, keeps an old Parisian charm that is unique in the city centre. But what makes Le Marais so special? Here’s a short summary of the favourite Paris district.
The name Le Marais comes from its origins as marshland, which began to be built on many centuries ago. In the 17th century, the Parisian aristocracy took over much of Le Marais, building remarkable mansions. One of the highlights has to be the delightful Place des Vosges, which has had a great literary history and is now a hit for picnickers on its pretty gardens.
Le Marais was left nearly untouched by the Haussmann urbanisation and beaux-arts architectural style in central Paris which followed, apart from being given broader streets.
By the 19th and 20th century, Le Marais had become the Jewish quarters in Paris, especially around Rue des Rosiers. This was to become a target during the great wars when the Nazis invaded Paris and the area fell into decline between the 40’s and 60’s.
In 1969, the author and statesman André Malraux had Le Marais protected, to allow the museums, art galleries and historical façades to remain untouched by modern development. This has in fact led to one of Le Marais’ most charming features which can be found all over the neighbourhood; an old shop front of a bakery with a trendy boutique inside, for example.
Today, Le Marais still serves a strong Jewish community, with a synagogue on Rue Pavée. There is also a hip gay scene in the southwestern part of the district, around Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie and Vieille du Temple.
To get a good feel for Le Marais, the Saint-Paul metro station is a good starting point. From there you’ll find the authentic Paris shops, inexpensive places to eat and plenty of locals.
Definitely worth a stroll is the Rue des Francs Bourgeois which is remarkably open on a Sunday.
Rue Charlot has been labelled as one of the classiest streets in Le Marais, thanks to its mix of designer shops, eateries and art galleries. Located here, the interesting Le Boudoir et sa Philosophie has an interesting insight into Marie Antoinette’s style. This is also just around the corner from the Picasso museum, which houses thousands of the artist’s works.
Le Marais is an excellent area of Paris to explore, to sit at a terrace café or grab some cheese and wine and sit in the park. The real Paris experience awaits you in Le Marais.