The Best of Paris – The Marais
After living in France for over 4 years now, I like to think I have a little bit of Paris figured out. I know some of the areas pretty well from living in the neighborhood, and others I love to visit and take in the sights. I don’t think I am an expert by any means, but I know what areas I like and I know what ones to never venture into. I get so many requests from people asking what to do in Paris if they come on a holiday, so I thought I would write a series of blog posts featuring some of my favorite things in the city!
One of my favorite areas in the city is the Marais. Spreading across the 3rd and 4th Arrondissement, the Marais is full of character and is known to have a diverse collection of boutiques, Jewish grocery stores and gay bars. I love wandering around the streets looking in the little boutiques that carry one of a kind pieces that you can only find in the Marais. If you are hungry for a snack, pick up a Nutella and almond croissant at Atelier Hure located at 18 Rue Rambuteau. Their cakes also look delicious, but I haven’t tried one …… yet!
A sight not to be missed is the small garden in Musee Carnavalet located at 16 rue des Francs-Bourgeois. No matter if it is summer or winter, this small garden space is beautiful and open for free public viewing every day expect Monday.
If you are into modern art, the Pompidou Center is the place to go. The largest modern art museum in Europe, you cannot miss this “inside out” building that seems to stand out against the surrounding traditional French buildings. A team of architects designed this building to show all of its pipes and plumbing on the outside. if modern art isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the surrounding pedestrian streets that run behind the center. Filled with shops and restaurants with artists and buskers, this area provides unlimited things to see and do. Beside the Pompidou center you will also find the whimsical Stravinsky fountain, designed to represent themes and works by the famous composer.
Another place I often like to visit is the oldest planned square in Paris, Place des Vosges. This beautiful square full of boutiques and art galleries surround a pretty little park that I often sit in and enjoy a treat from one of the many bakeries in the area. Also in this square is the former home of Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérables. With free admission, this is an interesting look back in time as you walk through the famous writer’s house as it was when he left it in 1848.
Victor Hugo’s House
Victor Hugo’s House
If you are like me and love jewelry and handbags, then you will love the Marais. This is where most of the wholesale jewelry, bead and handbag shops are located. If you don’t have a business, sadly you cannot purchase any of the goods, but it is still fun to window shop! The street that is best for eye candy is Rue du Temple between Rue Rambuteau to Rue Reaumur. If you want to do some bead shopping, there is Matiere Premiere on Rue de Sévigné and La Perlerie 22 on Rue du Temple.
Wholesale Beads on Rue du Temple
If you are looking for a Paris department store where you might actually be able to afford something, visit BHV on the corner of Rue de Rivoli and Rue de Temple. They have everything from house wares to clothing and jewelry and even have a home repair shop in the basement.
BHV Department Store
Looking for a place to eat? I recommend Comptoir des Archives for lunch located on the corner of Rue des Archives and Rue Rambuteau. After lunch just cross the street and check out a beautiful boutique full of French curiosities at Les Milles Feuille.
Comptoir des Archives
Taking a little walk across Rue de Rivoli head towards the Saint Paul metro stop and you will find the little village of St.Paul. If you are craving American food, you can pick up some Pop Tarts, Nerds candies and other assorted American treats at Thanksgiving American grocery store located at 20, rue Saint Paul. Otherwise just wander around the small streets just south of Rue de Rivoli and you will find an assortment of antique, design and craft shops. You can also stop and take some pictures of the St.Paul church which was constructed in 1641.
Just a short walk from St.Paul is Hôtel de Ville, Paris’ building housing the city’s local administration. This is a beautiful building and a great photo opportunity spot. They also host a lot of free exhibitions in Hôtel de Ville so be sure to check out if it is something you might be interested in!
Hôtel de Ville
Overall, the Marais is one of my favorite districts in Paris where I am able to wander around the little streets for hours and shop in the many boutiques in this area. Some of the most picturesque streets are around the Jewish quarter on Rue des Rosiers. The Marais is the area that I lived in when I first came to Paris, so it will always be a special place to me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!