Le Marais, located within the 3rd and 4th arrondissements of Paris, has everything a traveler could want. Old-world charm and quaint atmosphere combined with trendy shops, chic boutiques, and bistros line the area where you can tour the streets and walk through buildings once visited by famous writers, artists, and members of the French nobility. Within Marais Paris you will find several cultural sites as well as outdoor venues where you can wile away the afternoon.
The Place des Vosges, created in the 1600s, is the city's oldest public square. Visitors can stroll through the area and see ornate fountains that still bear the name of King Louis XIII, who reigned at the time the square was completed. Within Place des Vosges stand two houses: The Queen Pavilion to the north side and the King Pavilion to the south were dedicated to the former king and queen of France. Among other famous residents, Victor Hugo (the author of Les Miserables) lived in Le Marais, and his home is a public museum owned by the city and open daily with free admission.
Pablo Picasso made his mark in the art world and spent a significant amount of time in the Quartier le Marais as well, along with other districts in the city such as Montmartre and St Germain des Pres. Hugo, Picasso, and other famous artists and writers made Le Marais a gathering spot for creative thinkers, poets, and painters. For a look at Picasso's work, including the portrait of Dora Maar and the whimsical Paul Arlequin, visit the Musee Picasso, which contains more than 200 paintings, nearly 300 sculptures and ceramic works, and thousands of engravings, drawings, and manuscripts. The French state was the recipient of many of Picasso's works after his death, and the museum was created as a place for his personal collection to be enjoyed by the public. The museum is located in Le Marais in the former Hotel Sale, which was built in 1656 and is known as one of the most decorative buildings in Paris. It also contains works by Matisse, Degas, Renoir, and Cezanne.
Other attractions in this district include the Musee Cognacq-Jay, the Musee Carnavalet, the National Archives, and the popular Cafe Charlot. Restaurants and cafes abound in Place des Vosges, with an assortment of cultural foods and establishments available. If you're looking for a relaxing break from sightseeing, take a seat outside at the Cafe Hugo and watch the street scenes while enjoying a light meal, glass of wine, or cup of coffee.
Accommodations in Marais Paris range from three star hotels such as the Hotel des Chevaliers and Caron de Beaumarchais Hotel to suites at Paris luxury hotels such as the four-star Hotel Pavillon de la Reine. For adventurous travelers, several hostels are in the district and for families, secluded Paris bed and breakfast locations such as the Paris Rivoli or Marais Rosiers. The Hotel de Sully and Hotel de Sens are found in Le Marais, but both are city palaces that house libraries and works of art, and are not functioning hotels.
Marais Paris is convenient to public buses and the Paris Metro system making travel to other districts in the city easy. This provides plenty of time for sightseeing, dining, and enjoying the nightlife, whether you're heading for a relaxing dinner in the Quartier Latin or a night at the infamous Moulin Rouge in Montmartre.
Image: Paris Tourist Office/ Marc Bertrand