Streets and typical Parisian facades in Le Marais
Live like a local

A neighbourhood guide to Le Marais

August 24, 2021

Once a marshland (‘marais’ in French), Le Marais is a chic and idiosyncratic district in Paris that for four centuries was the aristocratic heart of the city. Wind through its medieval streets and get lost in an array of boutiques, vibrant bars, and internationally renowned museums.
Carnavalet Museum architecture

Art and culture in Le Marais

Set in two grand buildings dating from the Renaissance, the often-overlooked Musée Carnavalet has a superb mix of artefacts and items showcasing the city’s history, from Marie Antoinette’s objets to 19-th century signs and shopfronts. A short stroll away, in the Place des Vosges, one of Paris’s oldest and most beautiful squares, is the Maison de Victor Hugo, which takes you through the rooms where Victor Hugo wrote Les Misérables.

Several other noble mansions have also been transformed into museums, including the Musée Picasso Paris, located in the splendid 17th-century Hôtel Salé, which houses over 5,000 works and tens of thousands of archived pieces. In contrast, on the western edge of Le Marais you’ll find the Centre Pompidou, a striking building with a glass and steel structure encased by brightly coloured pipes, and home to Europe’s largest modern art collection.

The markets of Le Marais

Nestled away in the Haut Marais, the Marché des Enfants Rouges is Paris’s oldest food market, having first opened in 1628. Its name, which translates as ‘The Market of the Red Children’, derives from a 16th-century orphanage that used to occupy the site. Mouth-watering dishes are served here, with the dazzling choice of cuisine including Japanese bento boxes at Chez Taeko and delicious tagine at Le Traiteur Marocain, but there are plenty of regional French specialities too. In the heart of Le Marais, amid a maze of cobbled courtyards, you’ll also find the Village Saint-Paul-Le-Marais, look out for one of the oldest watch repair shops in Paris as well as delectable chocolatier, Le Trois Chocolat.

French market in Le Marais District, Le Marché des enfants rouges
Main dish of a Parisian Restaurant, Qui Plume la Lune

Eating in Le Marais

Le Marais overflows with delightful restaurants dotted along its picturesque narrow streets, and among these is Benoit, owned by Alain Ducasse since 2005. The atmosphere here is delightfully vintage, with red velvet banquettes and wooden panelling. The restaurant serves classic French dishes on pretty floral crockery and is known as one of the most authentic bistros in Paris. Other Michelin-starred restaurants include L’Ambroisie, in a townhouse on Place des Vosges, where chef Bernard Pacaud creates exceptional French Haute Cuisine, and the romantic Michelin-starred Qui Plume la Lune, known for its fresh local produce from small-scale farmers.

Shopping in Le Marais

Le Marais is the perfect place to turn on the Parisian style and discover the city’s best fashion haunts, from famous designers like Isabel Marant to smaller concept stores. At Mes Demoiselles you’ll find richly printed dresses in luxe fabrics that are both bohemian and elegant. Nearby at The Broken Arm there’s a curated selection of millennial-friendly labels and streetwear, from Balenciaga and Céline to Asics and Nike, as well as a bright Scandinavian-style café serving ceviche and salads.

Streets and typical Parisian facades in Le Marais
Interior of 38 Riv Jazz Club in Le Marais District, Paris

Drinking in Le Marais

An area renowned for its mishmash of vibrant bars and cafés, Le Marais is home to 38’Rivoli, an intimate music bar set in a vaulted 13th-century cellar, where you can listen to jazz, baroque and classical concerts. One of the city’s best-known bars is La Perle, nondescript yet very popular among artists and actors, with Carole Bouquet and Romain Duris said to frequently come here. For views over the Paris skyline, including the Eiffel Tower and the Seine, find the secret rooftop bar The Perchoir perched on top of the famous department store BHV MARAIS, which hosts regular DJs and serves sensational cocktails.

Explore and be seduced by Paris’s iconic neighbourhoods, including St-Germain-des-Prés, when you stay at Le Meurice or Hôtel Plaza Athénée.

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