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Rue des Barres: An Old Medieval Street
The Marais is one of the oldest and most beautiful Parisian neighborhoods. From its narrow little streets to its Medieval and Renaissance-era residences and squares, the Marais, plunked in Paris' central 4th arrondissement, gives more than a glimpse of what the city was like before the architect Haussmann remodeled and modernized most of Paris in the mid-19th century. In the same right, the Marais represents contemporary Paris at its most exciting: some of the city's most up-and-coming galleries, fashion, and home deco boutiques can be found here. The perfect blending of several different communities, including gay and Jewish, and the presence of arty types crowding cafe terraces, makes the Marais one of Paris' most eclectic and interesting spots.
After browsing through this gallery for some inspiration, get on your walking shoes and take our self-guided historic tour of the Marais, which whirls you through some of the most storied places in the area.
Rue des Barres, with the... Saint-Gervais cathedral on the left side. An example of the Marais' narrow, medieval-style layout.
After browsing through this gallery for some inspiration, get on your walking shoes and take our self-guided historic tour of the Marais, which whirls you through some of the most storied places in the area.Continue to 2 of 32 below.
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Hôtel de Sens
The Hôtel de Sens, built between 1475 and 1507, is a late-medieval residence with neoclassical-style gardens. Queen Margot lived here in the 17th century. Today the residence houses an arts library.Continue to 3 of 32 below.
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During World War II, Paris occupied under Nazi Germany saw thousands of French Jews deported to concentration camps. Many of these were children, and many of them lived in the Marais, which has always been a center of Jewish cultural life in Paris. This memorial plaque, one of many that can be found around the Marais, is outside of a school from which students were deported.
Read Related Features:Continue to 4 of 32 below.
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Rue des Jardins-Saint-Paul
This narrow street shows the remains of the fortress built around Paris by King Philippe Auguste in the 12th century. Much of contemporary Paris, including most of the Marais, was excluded from Philippe Auguste's protection. The large Jewish community was expelled from the city.Continue to 5 of 32 below.
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The Village Saint-Paul is made up of a series of protected courtyards. Today you can find charming galleries and artisan home decorations here. There's also often a weekend antiques market that pops up.Continue to 6 of 32 below.
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A quiet passageway and courtyard off of Rue Saint-Paul.There are countless quiet little streets to explore in the area, making it pretty easy to escape the hustle and bustle of central Paris when the need arises.Continue to 7 of 32 below.
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St-Paul-St-Louis Church is Paris' oldest Jesuit-style church. It was commissioned by Louis XIII and completed in 1641. Its baroque design was inspired by the Gesu church in Rome. The columns and dome show the Jesuit style, which can also be seen at the Sorbonne and the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris.Continue to 8 of 32 below.
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Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis, Interior 1
The interior of the Jesuit-style church shows corinthian pillars, elaborate sculptures and ornaments.Continue to 9 of 32 below.
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Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis Church, Interior 2
This picture shows the detail of the Eglise St Paul St Louis' dome from the inside.Continue to 10 of 32 below.
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Absinthe, favorite drink of 19th-century poets Verlaine and Rimbaud, has since been made illegal. But it can still be sold without its harmful components. This Marais absinthe shop speaks to nostalgic, romantic notions of Paris.Continue to 11 of 32 below.
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Place du Marché-Sainte-Catherine
The Place du Marche-Sainte-Catherine, originally built in the 13th century, is one of the Marais' most attractive spots. Spontaneous-- or not so spontaneous-- artists' performances often erupt here.Continue to 12 of 32 below.
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Place du Marché-Sainte-Catherine (2)
Another shot of the charming square, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Rue de Rivoli.Continue to 13 of 32 below.
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Hôtel de Sully
The Hôtel de Sully was once the private residence of Sully, one of Henri IV's ministers. Its neoclassical design and sculptures representing the four seasons are an impressive sight, and its garden, or "orangerie" in French, lead directly into the covered galleries of the Place des Vosges.Continue to 14 of 32 below.
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Place des Vosges
The Place des Vosges is arguably Paris' most beautiful square. It was the royal stomping grounds of Henri IV in the 17th century, as well as other monarchs. Famed writer Victor Hugo lived in one of the Henri IV-style apartments around the square. Today, when the lawn is not "resting" (as the French expression goes), coming to sit on the grass and picnic is a Parisian tradition.Continue to 15 of 32 below.
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Place des Vosges (2)
A second shot of the Vosges square and its elegant, unusual architectural detail.Continue to 16 of 32 below.
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Boutique on Rue des Francs-Bourgeois
Thanks to a policy that protects many of the Marais' historical buildings, it is not uncommon to see contemporary boutiques move into former bakeries or other shops, preserving the original facades. Here, a fashion boutique on Rue des Francs-Bourgeois is housed in a historic bakery and pastry shop.Continue to 17 of 32 below.
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Rue Vieille du Temple
The Rue Vieille du Temple is the main artery of Marais nightlife. Its many bars, cafés, and restaurants, many of them catering to gay or mixed clientele, are always packed, especially on the weekends.Continue to 18 of 32 below.
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Yiddish Bakery on Rue des Rosiers
This traditional Yiddish bakery on Rue des Rosiers is an example of the treats that abound in the historic Jewish quarter.Continue to 19 of 32 below.
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A Quaint Marais Cafe
A shot from inside a vintage-style Paris café in the quaint Marais.Continue to 20 of 32 below.
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Neo-Kitsch Shot From the Politburo
This shot was taken from the Politburo, a favorite bar among the indie rock set in Paris (and now sadly defunct). The red lights and fake fur plush seats around the window provided an inspiring frame for a neo-kitsch shot of the retro boutique across the street.
25 Rue de Roi de Sicile
Metro: Saint Paul or Hotel de VilleContinue to 22 of 32 below.
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Square Georges Cain
The Square Georges Cain is one of the Marais' most peaceful places to sit, read, or people-watch. This is a somewhat unknown spot and is situated next to one of the neighborhood's stately residences.Continue to 23 of 32 below.
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A (Semi) Secret Marais Garden
A lush and semi-secret rose garden tucked away in the Marais.The area counts many such places, havens away from the noise of tourists and brunchers and shoppers.Continue to 24 of 32 below.
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Rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie
Rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie is one of the Marais district's busiest streets and is lined with restaurants and cafes, clothing shops, bookstores, and theaters. This is also the scene of a lively gay and lesbian scene in Paris.Continue to 25 of 32 below.
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A quiet street near the Place des Vosges.Continue to 26 of 32 below.
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Children of the Revolution?
An odd and eye-catching display in one of the Marais district's designer shop windows.Continue to 27 of 32 below.
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Narrow Marais Street
A quiet, narrow street off of Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie.Continue to 28 of 32 below.
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Les Mots à la Bouche
Les Mots à la Bouche is a gay and lesbian-themed bookstore located at 6, Rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie in the Marais. Offering a wide selection of books and gifts, this is one of Paris' most popular gay and lesbian bookstores.Continue to 29 of 32 below.
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Mariage Frères Tea House
The Mariage Frères tea house in the Marais is one of the city's finest tea sellers. With dozens of varieties of fragrant, pungent, or spicy teas and a relaxing tea salon, Mariage Frères is an obligatory stop for tea lovers. There are several boutiques around Paris: this one is at 30, Rue Bourg-Tibourg (Metro Saint Paul or Hôtel de Ville).Continue to 30 of 32 below.
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Le Point Virgule Theater
Le Point Virgule is a theater and cabaret on Rue Saint Croix de la Bretonnerie in Paris' lively Marais district. One-man/woman shows and offbeat Paris cabarets are on the program each night here.Continue to 31 of 32 below.
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Easter Chocolate Display
An elaborate Easter chocolate window display at a chocolate shop on Rue Bourg-Tibourg in the Marais.Continue to 32 of 32 below.
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Centre Culturel Suedois
The Centre Culturel Suedois (Swedish Cultural Center) is located across from the Square Georges Cain on Rue Payenne in Paris' Marais district. It regularly schedules film screenings, concerts, exhibits, and other cultural events. The center is housed in an ornate Renaissance-style building.