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Marais Neighborhood

Le Marais Neighborhood

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Why you will love it?

The Marais district is a Paris neighborhood famous for its shopping and food, but those are not its only attractions. A fascinating history, a mixture of cultures and people as well as great architectural jewels make the Marais one of the most dynamic and enjoyable places in Paris. Enjoy! Parisianist.

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About this place

46 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 75004 Paris
Line 1 - Hôtel de Ville Line 11 - Hôtel de Ville

Our Insiders' Article


The Marais district is a historical district of Paris located in the center-east of the capital, on the right bank of the Seine River. The Marais extends between the Centre Georges Pompidou to the west, République to the north, Bastille to the east and the Seine River to the south. It is a very lively district filled with boutiques and restaurants and is especially popular on Sunday as, unlike the rest of Paris, most of the shops are open.


The Marais district has 3 main attractions.

- Shopping: many different shops that will satisfy all kinds of desires and budgets.

- Food: the Marais district offers a wide variety of international food, especially falafel or baba ganoush delicatessens in the Jewish quarter.

- Architecture: because the Marais district has been inhabited since the 12th century, there are many interesting mansions and churches, as well as the oldest square in Paris: Place des Vosges. 


Before the 9th century, the area was just a swamp, hence the name of the district (marais = swamp in French). It was first used as a grazing field in the 9th century until the first settlers arrived. The Knights of the Temple, or Templars, were a western Christian military order officially endorsed by the Catholic Church who built a priory outside Paris’ city walls. The priory attracted many craftsmen and traders, fleeing Paris’ high tax rates in the 14th century.  

Parisianist Fast Fact: After having lost the Holy Land (Israel & Palestine), the Templars were banned by the church, and later on arrested, tortured, and burned at the stake in France.


King of France Charles V built the royal residence Hôtel Saint-Pol in the lower eastern part of the Marais, therefore attracting other noble families in the area. Yet it is not until Place des Vosges was created in 1605 that the district’s popularity among nobles soared. Up until the end of the 17th century, noble families built large mansions, known as “hôtels,” and churches, but the area was abandoned when the Royal Court moved to Versailles. The Marais slowly became a poor working class neighborhood, attracting many different types of people throughout the later centuries, making it the lively and eclectic district it is today. 


Some of the best shopping in Paris is in the Marais, and there are 4 key areas every shopper should know about. First are the central streets of the Marais (Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Rue du Temple, Rue des Archives, Rue Vieille du Temple). On Sunday, these are reserved for pedestrians and you will find them bursting with people popping in and out of the trendy garment and decoration stores. On the lower east side of the Marais is the cozy Village Saint Paul, for a more intimate and local shopping experience. The BHV/Marais (9:30AM-8PM) is one of the biggest and trendiest department stores in Paris, located next to Hôtel de Ville. Finally, for a real market experience, the Marché des Enfants Rouges, the oldest market in Paris established in 1628 on Rue de Bretagne, is a great place to buy fresh produce or eat local or international food.

Jewish quarter

At the end of the 19th century, the Marais welcomed a lot of Ashkenazi, Jews from Eastern Europe. This reinforced the “confection” aspect of the Marais, especially in garments. Although the community was sadly targeted during the Nazi occupation of Paris, the Jewish Quarter located on Rue des Rosiers now very lively and animated, especially on Sundays. Rue des Rosiers is probably where you will find the best Jewish specialties.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Many traditional shops in Rue des Rosier have been replaced by large international trendy clothing brands, but the spirit carries on.

Chinese & Gay Quarters

During World War I, France lacked manpower in factories. China sent several thousand Chinese citizens to France, provided they were not sent to the battlefields. Since then, these families have remained in France and settled in the upper part of the Marais, near Place de la République. In Rue Maire, you will find a lot of small traditional Chinese restaurants, while the Chinese Jewelry and Bag businesses are located mostly on Rue des Gravilliers.

Parisianist Fun Fact: The western part of the Marais around Rue des Archives is the Gay and Lesbian Quarter, a very lively nightlife area. Here too, many small traditional shops have been replaced with the trendiest stores in town.


Because of its rich history, there are many architectural highlights in the Marais. Among these highlights is Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church built in 1641, where most of the rich inhabitants of the 17th century Marais would come pray. Another iconic building is Paris’ city hall along the Seine, Hôtel de Ville,” a beautiful example of Neo–Renaissance architecture.

Parisianist Tip: Check out our Citinerary walking tours Marais 1 (lower Marais) and Marais 2 (Higher Marais) for an in depth discovery of the architectural jewels of the Marais.


A visit to the Marais district would not be complete without seeing the Place des Vosges. In 1612, in memory of his ancestor Henri II, King Henri IV built the Place Royale (Royal Square), now called the Place des Vosges. Today, it is a very luxurious living area, where many politicians and famous people live.

Parisianist Fun Fact: one of our favorite squares in the Marais is the Place du Marché Sainte Catherine, on Rue Ormesson: a small and quiet square with charming café terraces.


The old narrow streets and houses are part of the Marais’ highlights. 3 very old houses are worth mentioning: Maison de Nicolas Flamel (51 rue de Montmorency), the oldest building in Paris, was built in 1407. Old inscriptions can still be seen on its façade. Another old building can be seen at 3 Rue Volta, while Maison d’Ourscamp (46 Rue François Miron) has the most beautiful 16th century cellar.


There are several museums located in the Marais district, which in turn have attracted diverse art galleries. The 2 most popular museums are the Picasso Museum (5 rue de Thorigny, reopening in June 2014), displaying a wide range of the works of the world famous Spanish artist, and the Musée Carnavalet (23 Rue de Sévigné / free / 10AM-6PM, closed on Monday) dedicated to the history of Paris.

Parisianist Fun Fact: Just north of the Marais is the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Arts and Crafts Museum) with a collection of over 4,000 inventions, some of them displayed in an old church!

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