What to See & Do
The best way to really experience the Marais neighborhood is to get lost in it! It is essentially a labyrinth of small crooked medieval lanes with bars, restaurants, hotels, fashion boutiques, old fashioned bakeries, art galleries and museums all crammed into one small area. That being said, if you would like some direction and things to tick off your list, here’s a few places to see that I would recommend.
Place des Vosges
The Place des Vosges is the oldest square in Paris, dating back to around 1605, and possibly the most beautiful in the city. Some will say it is the crown jewel of the district that is not lacking in attractions. It would be a shame to visit Le Marais and not see this much adored square!
Located inside the 17th-century Hôtel Salé, an exquisite private mansion, showcases an impressive art museum devoted to Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso. It’s an extrodinary collection with more than 5000 works and was recently redeveloped.
A little bit of a hidden gem in the Marais is the Musée des Archives Nationales, otherwise known as the National Archives. It’s a relaxing courtyard where you may sit, read a book or just escape some of the crowds for a while!
Rue des Rosiers
The Rue des Rosiers is a street in the Marais that was once the largest Jewish community in Europe. Today the street is packed with delis, bakeries, old hamams, and East European Jewish restaurants. It’s definitely a street you shouldn’t miss walking through but just take note to avoid Saturdays as it’s the Jews worship day, therefore the street becomes a little too quiet.
Eat & Drink
L’As Du Fallafel
Although you will find many places serving falafel in the Marais, L’As Du Fallafel is the place in Paris. You’ll spot a queue lining up outside it’s infamous green facade just about any time of the week, but I promise it’s worth the wait. I didn’t even know I loved fallafel as much as I did until I tried it from here… beyond words, really. It would be a sin to visit the Marais and not try one!
When most people think of Carette, they think of their macarons, often dubbed the best in the city. What most people don’t know is that it’s actually one of the best places for brunch too! Soft and flaky croissants (my personal favourite), fluffy eggs, homemade sandwiches and other delicious pastries. And of course don’t forget to grab a macaron on your way out!
I was so excited to finally find Amorino, a gelateria that serves gelato in cones with beautiful flower creations, as I’d seen them previously all over instagram! So basic, I know, but can you really blame me. There’s endless options of flavours and they’re the perfect thing on a warm and sunny day strolling the streets of the Marais!
There are too many crêperies to even count in Paris, but Breizh Cafe is very well known for making some of the best in the city, and certainly the best in the neighborhood. Be prepared to queue, especially on a Sunday, but I assure you it is worth the wait. Whichever you decide on, savory or sweet (or both, in my case), you can’t really go wrong. Their crepes are exceptional with flavours ranging from traditional to unconventional, so there’s something for everyone.
Le Mary Céleste
A hotspot in the Marais known for it’s fashionable, well-mixed cocktails and oysters. Although quite pricey, everything is absolutely phenomenal – from the food, to the drinks and service. Just note you must reserve to eat as this place gets incredibly popular.
Where to Stay
As a favourite of VOGUE Paris, and of course myself, I couldn’t possibly write a guide to the Marais and not include Hôtel Bourg Tibourg. Often compared to stepping into an Audrey Hepburn movie, the aim of this hotel is to take you back in time, to the old Paris, which is quite fitting given the district. It’s not grand in size, with rooms a smaller size than average, but it exudes a feel of sophistication and romance. An almost invisible gem in the heart of the Marais.
Rose Tascher de la Pagerie, nicknamed Josephine by Napoleon Bonaparte and known as JoBo to her closest friends, inspired this eternally contemporary Parisian venue. She was scandalous, with a boundless curiosity and unconditional love for beauty. Stepping into Hotel JoBo is made to feel like stepping into her dreamworld. It is a boutique hotel with 24 rooms spread over four floors, arranged around a flamboyant courtyard. The hotel occupies a 17th-century convent, taking the decor and style codes of the Napoleonic period, as well as JoBo’s love of roses. It also has a fabulous cocktail bar and tea room, all in a cosy and funky atmosphere.
This hotel will be closed from end of July 2016 for a year to undergo renovations. It will be open for next Summer so I thought I’d still include it here as a viable option. It is one of my favourites and it’s reopening is said to make it one of the best hotels in the district. The bedrooms are huge, which is a luxury in a place like Europe, let alone Paris. Upgraded rooms have sitting areas, while suites have separate living rooms with some on a mezzanine level. Although there is no real theme, the decor is traditional and very Parisian. An exceptional find in the centre of Paris.