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What to Do in Le Marais
Le Marais is one of the highlights of any trip to Paris. You will find the finest architecture, interesting museums, lovely secluded gardens, cheap and hip bars, pretty cafés, and amazing fashion stores.
This beautiful neighborhood is also home to different communities, like the Jewish community, the Chinese community, and the LBGTQ+ community. With such an interesting blend, it is hard to be bored in Le Marais!
Le Marais is the perfect neighborhood in Paris for flâner, wandering aimlessly around the city to experience it. Check out this list of things to do in Le Marais, Paris, complete with the best places to eat and sleep.
TIP: Le Marais means ‘marsh’ in French, and in medieval times it was just this, a marshland. Things changed in the 14th century when King Charles V drained the marshlands, included this area inside the new walls that protected the city, and built a new Royal Palace where he and his court settled. Soon, nobles and wealthy men moved to Le Marais to be close to the king and built beautiful private mansions that we can still see today.
Le Marais District Practical Information
How to Get to Le Marais, Paris?
There are several metro lines with metro stations within Le Marais: Sully-Morland and Pont Marie (line 7); Saint-Paul (line 1); Temple and Rambuteau (line 11); Filles du Calvaire (line 8); République (lines 3, 5, 8, 9, 11). Line 1 is the automatic line so even if there’s a transportation strike you are covered!
Where to Eat & Sleep in Le Marais?
Best Things to Do in Le Marais, Paris
If you are wondering what to do in Le Marais Paris, here’s a good list with something for every kind of traveler.
1. Hotel de Ville
Our list of what to see in Le Marais starts at Hotel de Ville. The Hôtel de Ville is one of the most famous buildings in Paris and has been the seat of the Paris Council since 1357. This building is the political center in Paris and is also home to many cultural and festive events.
This imposing Neo-Renaissance construction was built in the 19th century to replace the former Hôtel de Ville burnt down during the Paris Commune in 1871. The Function Room was created as a replica of the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles!
2. Musée Carnavalet
The Carnavalet Museum is a must on any first trip to Paris. Nestled in two beautiful private mansions of the 16th and 17th centuries, this beautiful museum is dedicated to the History of Paris, from its origins to the present day. We especially like the rooms underground dedicated to Roman and Medieval Paris, and the rooms dedicated to the French Revolution.
After many years of renovation work, Musée Carnavalet is back in Paris’ cultural program, and you cannot miss it! The museum is free to visit, but you need to book a date and time slot online in advance.
Address: 23 rue de Sévigné, Paris 3
TIP: Musée Carnavalet’s courtyards are occupied by Les Jardins de L’Olympe, a beautiful restaurant and ideal meeting place during the summer. Book your table in advance through their website (lesjardinsdolympe.com).
3. Place des Vosges
Place des Vosges is high on the top of our Le Marais things-to-do list. Place des Vosges is one of the royal squares in Paris. It is also the oldest (1605) and the most elegant square in Paris.
A perfect square of 140 m x 140 m, Place des Vosges embodied the first European program of royal city planning. Made of 36 identical elegant buildings connected by a continuous arcade with cafés and shops, only the Pavillon du Roi (Saint-Antoine side) and the Pavillon de la Reine (opposite) are different. Le Pavillon de la Reine is today one of the best hotels in Le Marais, and we always recommend it.
Place des Vosges is an exclusive place to live, but it is also a place for a stroll or to meet some friends. You can also enjoy a Parisian picnic in the shade of the trees in the landscaped garden.
4. Village Saint Paul
The hidden squares between rue Saint-Antoine and the Seine River form a little village of antique dealers in the heart of Le Marais.
Here, the atmosphere is totally different, and you have more than 80 designers, antique dealers, and gallerists offering original, quality shopping for the home.
5. Tour Saint-Jacques
Built in flamboyant Gothic style, the Tour Saint-Jacques is the only remaining vestige of the Eglise Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie destroyed in 1797. This church was one of the pilgrims’ meeting points along the Via Toronensis (or Tours route) to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
On the northwest corner, a statue of Saint Jacques le Majeur dominates the tower, while the sculpted symbols of the four evangelists (the lion, bull, eagle, and man) appear on the corners. The rest of the decoration is completed with some gargoyles and statues of saints.
Access to the top (54 m) is via a narrow staircase of 300 steps. After the effort, you will be rewarded with one of the best views of Paris.
Address: Square de Saint-Jacques
6. Rue des Barres
This lovely street located between St Gervais-et-Saint-Protais Church and the tiny Square Couperin is one of the oldest streets in Le Marais Paris.
The name of rue des Barres is already mentioned in 1152, and it refers either to the 11th-century wall barriers or the barriers located near the Seine River.
Rue des Barres is one of the most beautiful streets of Medieval Paris. There’s the church, which dates back to the 7th century, and some of the few half-timbered houses in Paris. The restaurant l’Ebouillanté has a lovely terrace perfect for a coffee or a quick lunch in the sun.
7. Musée des Arts et Métiers
The Musée des Arts et Métiers is a science and technology museum, part of the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts.
Housed in the Abbaye de Saint-Martin-des-Champs (11th century), the Musée des Arts et Métiers has an interesting collection of machines, models, and drawings used in the 19th and 20th centuries by the Conservatory to train technicians and engineers.
Address: 60 Rue Reaumur, Paris 3
TIP: Le Marais is a home to exceptional musums. In addition to Musée des Arts et Métiers, Musée Carnavalet and Centre Georges Pompidou, described in this article, there’s the Musée Picasso, Maison Européenne de la Photographie MEP, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Maison de la Chasse et la Nature, Mémorial de la Shoah, Gaîté Lyrique, Maison de Victor Hugo, Musée Cognac-Jay, and many more!
8. Rue des Archives
Rue des Archives, located between the Seine River and rue Bretagne, is one of the most important streets in Le Marais, Paris. It represents the layout of five medieval streets merged into today’s Rue des Archives.
A walk through this street, with beautiful private mansions, is like a step back in time. For example, you can see on number 58 the medieval door and two beautiful turrets of the Hôtel Clisson. On 22-26 of this street, there’s the Billette Church, whose cloister, in a flamboyant style, is the only cloister from medieval times that remains in Paris.
On the street’s lower part, there’s the epicenter of gay life in Paris. The Bar Cox (15 Rue des Archives), for example, is a real institution of homosexual emancipation in Paris.
9. Square du Temple
This beautiful English-style garden is built on the site of the Commandry of the Knights of the Order of the Temple (13th century). This square became the scene of bloody repressions when the Templars were considered heretics by the King of France.
From here, you can see the Carreau du Temple, a beautiful glass and metal structure that was a former cloth market and today hosts interesting exhibitions and events. There’s also the Mairie (city hall) of the 3rd Arrondissement of Paris, a magnificent 19th-century building.
THE LAST REMAINS OF THE TEMPLE. Perhaps, you will notice some strange blue lines on the pavement and sidewalk just in front of the Mairie. In fact, this is the exact layout of the Old Temple Keep, the prison where King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette spent the last years before their execution. At that time, the Keep was the only medieval vestige of the Old Temple, and it was completely razed in 1810 by the order of Napoleon to avoid any memory or place of worship dedicated to the Monarchy.
10. Rue des Rosiers and the Pletzl
Rue des Rosiers is the beating heart of one of the oldest Jewish communities in Paris. This area is home to a synagogue with a beautiful Art Nouveau façade, specialized Jewish bookstores, and shops selling typical Jewish food and sweets.
Here, you can also eat the best falafels in Paris (L’As du Falafel but also Le Roi du Falafel). At number 10, there’s a beautiful secluded garden (Jardin des Rosiers) where you can eat your takeaway falafel.
11. Marché des Enfants Rouges
The Marché des Enfants Rouges is Paris’ oldest food market, created in 1615. Its name comes from the Hospice des Enfants Rouges located nearby. The orphaned children were all dressed in red, a symbol of Christian charity.
Exploring the food stalls of this colorful covered market is one of the best things to do in Le Marais, Paris. You can buy fresh produce and there’s also the possibility to eat on-site all kinds of cuisines in a canteen-type atmosphere. The market also opens from Tuesday to Sunday.
Address: 39 Rue de Bretagne, Paris 3.
12. Hotel de Soubisse – Archives Nationales
The Hôtel de Soubise is one of the most beautiful private mansions in Paris from the 18th century, with reception rooms decorated by Germain Boffrand and paintings by Boucher, Van Loo, Trémolière. This spectacular hôtel particulier or private mansion is the result of the merging of two oldest private mansions: Hôtel de Clisson (14th century) and Hôtel de Guise.
The Hôtel de Soubise is the seat of the National Archives and the Armoire de Fer (the Iron Cabinet), containing some of France’s most important historical documents.
The Hôtel de Soubise is surrounded by a beautiful secluded garden, which is ideal for a short break in the shade.
Address: 60 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Paris 3
13. Place Sainte-Cathérine
This lovely square is one of the hidden gems in Paris. Place Sainte Cathérine owes its name to a market set up in 1784 on the site of the former priory of Sainte Cathérine du Val des Escoliers (13th century).
Far from the city’s hustle and bustle, Place Sainte-Cathérine is calm and very picturesque, and it has some benches in the shade and pretty cafes perfect for a break during your wanderings around Le Marais district. There are also some bistros, which are great and inexpensive places to taste Paris food.
14. Centre Georges Pompidou (Beaubourg)
Designed by the famous architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the Centre Pompidou is home to the National Museum of Modern Art, with important collections from the 20th and 21st centuries. This museum also covers contemporary art, and it usually proposes interesting temporary exhibitions – Click here to buy your tickets
Before visiting the museum, don’t miss the Stravinsky fountain and the street performances in Place Beaubourg.
Address: 19 rue Beaubourg, Paris 4