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Hidden gems of the Marais district

Often referred to as ‘Old Paris’, the Marais in the 3rd and 4th arrondissments is a charming and history-laden district that best represents what Paris looked like in Medieval times, before Napoléon III, (nephew of Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte) and Baron Haussmann’s grand and sweeping boulevards transformed the city in the mid-late 1800s.


This area has been a protected area since 1965, with more medieval and pre-revolutionary buildings left intact than in any other part of Paris. Full of cobblestoned laneways, portes cochères (large doorways originally built to accommodate carriages), hidden gardens, and courtyards; a visit to the Marais is one steeped in the history of another time.




While Place des Vosges is well known as the first royal square in Paris, built by Henry IV in 1605, the lanes and side streets around it are full of lesser-known treasures; restaurants, galleries and museums to pique your interest. A spot once preferred for duels, a stroll through the beautiful gardens of Place des Vosges and its side streets is well worth your time. Look out for number 6, where Victor Hugo lived while he wrote Les Misères, which would become Les Misérables.


The Marais has no shortage of museums, including Musée Picasso, Musée Carnavalet, Musée Cognacq-Jay and Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature among them. The Musée Picasso comprises over 5000 words by Pablo Picasso, donated by his heirs, along with other acquisitions. Musée Carnavalet is a museum of the history of the city of Paris, and is housed in two neighbouring mansions, the Hôtel Carnavalet and the former Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau. While it is closed for renovations until 2019, they are running events outside the walls of the museum, follow their Facebook page for more information.


Place des Vosges Paris


Musée Cognacq-Jay is housed in an exquisitely restored 17th-century ‘hôtel particulier’, (a French term for a private mansion or townhouse) and has a wonderful collection of 18th Century art.


Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature contains a fascinating collection of the history of hunting. Including weapons and examples of animals from all over the world, it is a fascinating look at the history of this historically popular pastime that has fallen far from grace in contemporary life.


The Marais also contains the Jewish quarter of Paris, a bustling area on the rue de Roisers, full of kosher delis, bakeries famed for their cheesecakes, Jewish restaurants, libraries, Synagogue and the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Judaïsme, a museum of Jewish history.


Paris on the Way is a leading personalised French tour guide company, offering over 50 classic and themed tours of Paris, Normandy and Bordeaux, as well as bespoke tours tailored to suit the exact personal requirements of individuals or groups. Fully endorsed by the French Ministry for Culture, Paris on the Way delivers tours that are heart-felt, memorable and bespoke, combining French savoir-faire with true joie-de-vivre. Paris on the Way offer a walking tour of the Marais. Discover more at: 


Written by: Fabien Latache
Published: 10 August 2017

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