PARIS 4 IN A NUTSHELL
Paris 4 is maybe our favorite Paris district: full of history, nightlife and shops, this is the kind of place where you can never get bored. One of the liveliest neighborhoods of the city, Paris 4 contains the Hôtel de Ville (Paris’ town hall), Ile de Saint Louis, the Eastern part of Ile de la Cité and it is also home of le Marais (shared with Paris 3).
Formerly known as Lutèce, Ile de la Cité is the oldest district of the city, the place where Paris was born during the Gallic time. On Ile de la Cité you cannot miss Notre Dame Cathedral. Built during the Middle Ages, Notre Dame is a masterpiece of Gothic art and one of the most visited monuments in Paris. If you want to know more about the history of Paris, take the steps down to the Archaeological Crypt. Despite its central location, the crypt is a fascinating place which gets few visitors. And it is a pity because walking through Lutèce’s Roman remains visitors can get a glimpse into the Paris of the past.
Pont de Saint Louis, behind Notre Dame, will lead you to the Ile Saint Louis. This is a nice area with its own atmosphere and a lovely place for a stroll, with nice views of the Seine and the city. On Ile de Saint Louis you will find the best ice cream in Paris, at Berthillon (there are many “Berthillons” but the original one is on 31 rue Saint Louis en l’Ile)
Le Marais: much more than Hôtels Particuliers
Enjoy the liveliest Part of le Marais in Paris 4. This old marsh area became the aristocratic area of Paris in the XIVth century when Charles V decided to move to le Marais. The most important people in the court followed him and built around the new Royal Palace some of the city’s most grand houses (hôtels particuliers). The best way to explore le Marais is to get lost and walk, walk and walk. However don’t forget to check the neighborhood’s main jewels: Place des Vosges, Hôtel de Sully (and its garden) and Hôtel de Beauvais, home of a young Mozart during his first trip to Paris.
Le Marais is far from being a homogeneous neighborhood. On the streets around Rue de la Verrerie there is a lively gay scene and rainbow flags everywhere while Village Saint Paul’s cobblestone courtyards, quiet cafes and vintage shops have a little town vive.
Finally le Marais in Paris 4 is also the heart of the main Jewish community in the city. Cross Rue Rivoli and you can enjoy the particular atmosphere of a little Shtetl in the Pletzl (=little square in Yiddish) of Paris. The first Jewish community settled in this area during the XIIIth century. From 1881 Ashkenazi Jews began to flock to France fleeing the persecutions and they lodged in Paris with their coreligionists established in le Marais. More than half of people living in the Pletzl died in the Nazi concentration camps but the ones who survived managed to keep the Pletzl’s spirit until our days: street merchants, orthodox Jews with their recognizable hats, boulangeries proposing the Hallot and other Jewish delicacies and even a Schnorrer (rue des Rosiers).
TOP SIGHTS IN PARIS 4
No surprises here: you can find all these places on all the guidebooks about Paris so no article talking about the 4th arrondissement would be complete without these Paris tourist places. If you are visiting Paris for the first time you will like to visit some of them, they are very touristy but beautiful !
Notre-Dame de Paris
Place des Vosges
Marché aux fleurs at l’Île de la Cité
Hôtel de Ville de la ville de Paris
Victor Hugo’s house
Tour Saint Jacques
BEST THINGS TO SEE IN PARIS 4 (AMAZING OR QUIRKY SIGHTS)
Some of them are part of touristy sights, some of them are hidden gems. This is our personal list of best things to see in Paris 4th arrondissement if you want to know Paris 4 like a local.
Paris from Notre-Dame’s towers – a unique view from a unique place
Cloître des Billettes – the only cloister from Middle Ages (XIVth century) that we can still see in Paris
Village Saint Paul – a quiet and stuck in time labyrinth of cobblestone streets, cafes and vintage shops
Half timbered houses and an underground cellar from Middle Ages – at rue François Miron
Censored stalls at Saint Gervais -Saint Protais Church – unexpected profane scenes on the priests’ seats
Guimard’s beautiful Synagogue at rue Pavée
Hidden Jardin des Francs Rosiers – a quiet and unique atmosphere
Sunset in Paris at le Perchoir du Marais – with your favorite drink and favorite company
Brancusi’s Workshop – Get a glimpse of how artists worked during the 20’s
BEST THINGS TO DO IN PARIS 4
We would need two more posts to tell you all the things that we love to do in Paris 4! These are, in our opinion, the best things to do in Paris 4 like a local.
Step on France’s kilometre zero – just in front of Notre Dame, all the roads are measured from this point
Stroll along rue des Rosiers – get a taste of its many street food options in the heart of the Jewish Quarter
Travel back in time inside the Crypte Archéologique– learn about former Lutèce, and the birth of Paris
Coffee break at rue de Barres or rue du Trésor– quiet and shady oasis in the bustle of le Marais
A picnic on the banks of the Seine – a locals’ must. Vin, fromage & baguette, Paris’ beautiful architecture, Bateaux Mouches . . . quintessential Paris as its best
Enjoy the best ice cream of Paris at Berthillon – on Ile de Saint Louis, probably also the almost expensive ice cream in Paris
Check the latest photo exhibition at Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) – Always top quality exhibitions
Follow the traces of Philippe Auguste’s walls– these XIIIth century walls (many locations) separated once Paris from the marshland
WHERE TO EAT IN PARIS 4 LIKE A LOCAL
Foodies will love rue des Rosiers and rue Rambuteau, with endless delicacies shops, street food and little bistrots.
The best falafel in the city is at l’As du Falafel (34 rue des Rosiers, closed on Saturday). Its competitor and neighbor, le Roi du Falafel, is not bad at all either.
Miss Manon (87 Rue Saint-Antoine) has INCREDIBLE French pastries. If you like sweet treats you don’t want to miss this place.
Check our proposals of best places to eat in Paris (by Paris arrondissement) on Yummy Paris. This is a living page which we are continuously “feeding” with our Parisian friends’ suggestions so we recommend you to come back from time to time to check the newest additions.
WHERE TO STAY IN PARIS 4
On Where to Stay in Paris section we always try to give 3 top options of best hotels in Paris in each price brackets. Have in mind that this is very trendy area and the prices are higher. For the same price you can have better quality in other districts. Because the budget proposals in the 4th arrondissement do not convince us, we prefer to propose a luxury hotel and two mid range options instead. You can check all the hotel options for the 4th arrondissement here
Excellent location, on the heart of Ile de Saint Louis. Its classic Parisian décor, wooden beams and exposed stone walks make this hotel unique and an excellent option for your stay in Paris.
Stay in the heart of busy Marais, and finish your days in the hotel’s quiet garden. Rooms are cute and bright with a very defined contemporary design and breakfast is served in the hotel’s impressive stone cellar
In the heart of Marais and very close to Place des Vosges, this hotel combines and excellent location with a good price. Rooms and common spaces are cute and the hotel proposes a “comptoir gourmand” with free coffee, tea and French pastries
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