The Marais – Everyone's Favorite Hip & Historic Paris Neighborhood

The Marais is one of the most popular quartiers of Paris. And no wonder — it's famous for old-world charm, narrow cobblestone streets, hidden courtyards & tranquil gardens, a multitude of mansions called hôtels particuliers, a vibrant Jewish community, and a thriving gallery & cafe culture. Historically, this area, built over marshland ("marais"), was the neighborhood of choice for the aristocracy from the 13th to the 17th centuries.

Untouched by Haussmann's 19th-century rebuilding of Paris, the luxurious hôtels still line the streets; many of them now house some of the best museums in the city. What the Marais district doesn't have are the grands boulevards or the big parks found in much of the rest of the city. It's all small, maze-like streets, giving you a glimpse of what Paris looked like 200, 400, even 600 years ago.

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11 Great Things About The Marais

1. Musée Picasso

Musée Picasso

Opened in 1985 in the 17th-century Hôtels Sale, the Picasso Museum was closed in 2009 after a famous art theft. It only reopened (with better security, we hope) in 2015. The elegant mansion is the perfect place to peek into Picasso's monumental treasure trove of his paintings, sculptures, love letters, poetry, and photography.

2. La Maison Européenne de la Photographie

La Maison Européenne de la Photographie

The House of European Photography is one of the most important museums of photography in Europe with exhibitions that change often. We always head here to see the new shows. The museum itself is housed in one of those fabulous mansions we mentioned; this one is the Hôtel Hénault de Cantobre, built in the 17th century. The entrance is on Rue de Fourcy just around the corner from the Saint-Paul Metro station.

  • 5-7 Rue de Fourcy, 75004
  • Closed Monday & Tuesday
  • Website

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The Best Activities On The Left Bank Of Paris

Small-Group French Cooking Class & Market Tour
At a food market in the Latin Quarter shop for ingredients. Then, back in the cooking studio, you create a delicious three-course lunch.
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Chocolate & Pastry Walking Tour of Saint-Germain-des-Prés
On a food walking tour through this historic Left Bank district discover the finest pastry and chocolate shops. Lots of sampling will ensue!
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3. Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges

In the Marais you can visit the oldest place, or square, in Paris and one of the prettiest. Place des Vosges was the inspiration for hundreds of squares (it's where the name came from) around Europe and the first Paris park to be open to the public. A great location to start your walking tour of the Marais, you can explore the shops along Rue des Francs Bourgeois and stop for a Jewish pastry on Rue des Rosiers. Place Royale (as it was first called) was built by Henri IV and is a true square, measuring 140 m x 140 m.

By the way, the square was renamed in 1799 when the département of the Vosges in eastern France became the first jurisdiction to send tax money to support the state after the French Revolution.

4. Maison Victor Hugo

Maison Victor Hugo

After resting your feet next to one of the pretty fountains in Place des Vosges, go directly into one of the most charming, hidden museums in Paris. Explore the very rooms where Victor Hugo lived and wrote. Make sure you snag an audio guide to learn about the 1,000 love letters Hugo penned during his lifetime, many were to his long-time mistress, actress Juliette Drouet over a 50-year period. Located in the southeast corner of the square. Entrance is free.

  • 6 Place des Vosges, 75004
  • Closed Monday
  • Website

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The Best Seine River Dinner Cruises

VIP Dinner Cruise with Bateaux Parisiens
This romantic dinner cruise includes champagne, wine & a classic meal. Choose the Service Privilege option for the best seating, best meal, and the ultimate experience.
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Bateaux Mouches Dinner Cruise with Live Music
At your private table enjoy a classic 4-course French dinner, with live music. Your bateau lazily floats past illuminated landmarks like the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower.
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5. The Pompidou Center

The Pompidou Center

Hate it or love it, this paean to modern art is one of the busiest museums in Paris. The somewhat controversial Pompidou Center (opened in 1977) cut a swath through the medieval Marais neighborhood, destroying historic buildings in its path. But, it is the place to see the works of David Hockney, Picasso, Klee, Philippe Starck, Andy Warhol, and other great modern artists — if you like that sort of thing.

6. Musée Carnavalet – Museum of the History of Paris

Musée Carnavale

This rambling mansion (actually, it's two mansions) is the perfect place to discover the history of Paris. It's rarely crowded and has many fascinating permanent exhibits as well as a pretty garden to relax in. Access to the permanent galleries are free. A grand re-opening in 20201 revealed an expanded, refreshed museum that's a delight to visit.

  • 23 Rue de Sévigné, 75003
  • Closed Monday
  • Website

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Visit the Champagne Region from Paris

A Day in the Champagne Region, with Hotel Pick-up & Lunch
A small-group tour led by an expert guide to the Land of Champagne for a day-long tasting of the bubbly. Inclues lunch & pick-up at your Paris hotel.
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VIP Champagne Private Day Tour
On this exciting day trip you travel by high-speed train to the Champagne region where your guide, a vineyard owner and wine exporter, introduces you to the best of the bubbly.
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7. Musée Cognacq-Jay

Musée Cognacq-Jay

Ernest Cognacq (a retail magnate of the Belle Époque) and his wife donated their possessions to the City of Paris. It is now a beautiful collection of fine art and decorative items focusing on 18th-century France. 8 Rue Elzevir, 75003.

8. Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

It's a strange but fascinating little museum, one that honors the hunt and explores the relationship between man and animal. It was first opened in 1967 in the Hôtel de Guenegaud, a 17th-century mansion. Forty years later, it was expanded to include the mansion next door, the Hôtel de Mongelas.

  • 62 rue des Archives, 75003
  • Metro Rambuteau
  • Website

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The Most Popular Food Tours in Paris

Discover the Food & Wine of the Marais
Visit the top food & wine shops in the historic Marais, tasting the best of French foods. There's plenty of sampling on this small-group tour.
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Cheese & Wine Tasting in a Paris Cellar
In the cheese-aging cellar of a Paris fromagerie you discover 7 classic French cheeses and the wines that pair with them. Lots of sampling!
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9. Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme

Museum of Jewish Art and History

At the Museum of Jewish Art and History you trace the evolution of Jewish artistic and cultural heritage. The museum focuses on French Jewish history since the Middle Ages. Its collection is one of the finest in the world and includes works by Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine, Michel Kikoine and Amedeo Modigliano.

  • Hôtel de Saint-Aignan, 71 Rue du Temple, 75003
  • Metro Rambuteau
  • Website

10. Hotel de Ville

Hotel de Ville

The magnificent Paris City Hall sits on the banks of the Seine in the 4th Arrondissement and has been the seat of city government since 1533. The building itself was gutted by a fire during the tumultuous Paris Commune of 1871 but was rebuilt in the years that follow. The plaza in front of the building is a center of municipal life hosting concerts, a winter skating rink, and other activities.

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The Top Activities in Montmartre

Montmartre & Sacre Coeur Private Guided Walking Tour
Explore the hilly streets of Montmartre that inspired artists like Renoir, Monet & Van Gogh. From the hilltop home of Sacre Coeur, revel in some of the best views of Paris.
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Secret Food Tour in Paris: A Taste of Montmartre
Embark on a culinary tour of Montmartre, one of the city's most charming neighborhoods. Sample croissants and éclairs at a local patisserie, cheeses at a fromagerie, and sweets at a classic chocolaterie.
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11. Marché des Enfants Rouges

Marché des Enfants Rouges

400 years and counting. It's the oldest covered market in Paris. There are better fresh food markets in Paris but this is the place to go to eat. Choose from Japanese bento boxes, hamburgers et frites, crepes, and Moroccan couscous. It's not exactly a food court, each stall is individually owned and operated. The market was created in 1615 by Louis XIII to supply food to the then up-and-coming neighborhood. . .

  • 39 rue de Bretagne, 75003
  • Metro: Saint-Sébastien–Froissart

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Find Hotel Deals for Your Dates in Paris

Check with Booking.com to find today's sale prices on hotel rooms in every arrondissement of Paris. Save 20% to 30%… or even more!

Booking.Com Paris Hotel Deals
Find hotels in the Latin Quarter, Saint Germain, the Right Bank, the Marais, near the Eiffel Tower.
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The Best Places to Stay in The Marais

The Marais is built on a smaller scale than the rest of Paris. So, you don't usually find hotels like the grand, five-star hotels in the Heart of Paris. But in the Marais you find smaller, charming places to call home. There are far fewer choices in the Marais than elsewhere in Paris, so we often stay in another neighborhood. But here are our top choices in the Marais.

Hotel du Petit Moulin

Hotel du Petit Moulin

You know that a hotel designed by Christian Lacroix is going to be fabulous, and the Petit Moulin doesn't disappoint. The fun starts outside, where the hotel has retained the facade of the historic boulangerie that once occupied this space. This is our top pick in the Marais.

  • 31 rue de Poitou
  • 3rd Arrondissement
  • Our Rating – Superb

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Le Pavillon de la Reine

Le Pavillon de la Reine

From the Place des Vosges you enter a tranquil courtyard that leads to the hotel, which is an oasis of calm. La Pavillon is in the heart of the Marais, close to museums and shopping. This is our (very close) runner-up in the Marais.

  • 8 Place des Vosges
  • 3rd Arrondissement
  • Our Rating – Superb

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Hotel Beaubourg

Hotel Beaubourg

Clean rooms, elevator and close to everything you want in the Marais. Rooms are equipped with air-conditioning and free WiFi. Ask for a room facing the inner courtyard.

  • 11 Rue Simon-Le-Franc
  • 4th Arrondissement
  • Our Rating – Highly Rated

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Hotel Caron

Hotel Caron

Just off Rue de Rivoli and a two-minute walk from Saint-Paul Metro station, this small hotel (only 18 guest rooms) is set on a side street in the Marais. Cozy, clean, even charming.

  • 3 Rue Caron
  • 4th Arrondissement
  • Our Rating – Superb

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See the Magnificent Castles of the Loire Valley

Small-Group Loire Valley Chateaux & Wine Tasting Trip from Paris
Visit the magical castles of the Loire Valley in a day that also features a guided tasting of the best regional wines. Travel in a luxury Eurovan.
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Private Loire Valley Chateaux by Minivan from Paris with Hotel Pickup
Visit 3 of the best castles in the valley with a knowledgeable and passionate guide who brings 700 years of history to life. Wine tasting included.
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Jewish Marais

Jewish Marais

Ever since the Romans conquered the city in the 1st century BCE, Jews have lived in Paris. And as early as the 13th century they settled in the Marais, still the city's most famous Jewish neighborhood. Known as the Pletzl (Yiddish for "little place"), the Marais was once also known as La Juiverie.

Although it's one of Paris' most trendy areas, the Marais still has a strong Jewish presence.Walk along Rue des Rosiers and you will find Jewish restaurants, bookshops, boulangeries, kosher delis, and synagogues. Stop at #10 Rue Pavée to visit Agudath Hakehilot, an orthodox synagogue designed by Hector Guimard, the Art Nouveau architect famous for his Paris Metro station entrances. Built in 1914, it's the largest synagogue in the Marais. Guimard's wife was an American Jew; with the rise of anti-semitism they left France for the United States in 1938.

On Yom Kippur in 1940, the Germans destroyed the synagogue with dynamite. After World War II, Agudath Hakehilot was restored and is now a national monument and a vital meeting center.

Dynamiting synagogues was by no means the worst of Nazi atrocities. Throughout the Marais there are plaques to remind us about the Jewish families and children who were wrested from homes and schools and sent to concentration camps to be killed. It's a painful and poignant reminder of France's treatment of Jews during World War II. Another typical plaque reads —

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To the memory of the students of this school, deported from 1942 to 1944 because they were born Jewish, innocent victims of Nazi barbarism, with the active complicity of the Vichy government. They were exterminated in the death camps. Never forget them."

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