Simply strolling along the cobble-stoned streets of the historic Le Marais district is one of my favorite things to do when I´m in my hometown, Paris.
One thing is certain; you can’t go to Paris and skip Le Marais. The small crooked medieval lanes are alive with bars, restaurants, hotels, high and low fashion boutiques, trendy shops, hip designers, old fashioned bread shops, jewelry, wine shops, fashionable art galleries and museums all crammed into one small area.
Le Marais is the closest you will get to the feel of medieval Paris and has more pre-revolutionary buildings and streets left intact than any other area in Paris.
Le Marais is also the most famous Jewish quarter in Paris and in much of Europe, still maintaining strong traditions. If you are interested in the Jewish quarter just stroll up the rue de Rosiers. The street is packed with kosher delis, bakeries, old hamams, and East European Jewish restaurants.
The little square of St. Catherine is one of my favorite places to go at night and you will be amazed at the atmosphere in this small square ringed by old apartments and giant trees with soft yellow light filtering down through the leaves and glow of street lamps. There are some nice little bars and restaurants strung around the perimeter of the square where you can sit at night and eat outside or just have a glass of wine. Definitely where you will find me this summer.
If you like Museums, there are plenty of them in the 3rd arrondissement. Here are some you should not miss:
Musée National Picasso: This well-curated museum features works from all periods of Picasso’s career. 5 rue de Thorigny Métro: Chemin Vert
Musee National des Arts et des Metiers. This fascinating museum was founded in 1794 as a place to showcase scientific instruments and artifacts. Today, it houses over 80,000 objects and 40,000 drawings. The big draw is Foucault’s pendulum. 60 rue Réaumur Métro : Arts et Métiers, Réaumur-Sébastopol
Musée d´Art et d´Histoire du Judaïsme: This beautiful museum includes historical objects and art that represent Judaism 71, rue du Temple Métro: Châtelet)
Musée Carnaval : The lovely Musée Carnavalet takes visitors on a historical tour of Paris through thousands objects artfully displayed in over 140 rooms of two historic Parisian homes. Entry to the permanent collection is free. 23 rue de Sévigné Métro: Saint-Paul, Chemin vert.
When passing in front of the Musée Carnavalet, you will see a wonderful French Garden hidden behind the beautiful wrought iron gates of a mansion that once belonged to Madame de Sévigné, mistress of Louis XIV; today it houses the museum of the history of Paris.
Where to shop in the 3rd arrondissement?
Rue des Francs-Bourgeois and rue des Rosiers are certainly Paris most trendy shopping street. You will find most French fashion brands there. Moreover, all fashion stores are open on Sundays, which is unique in Paris.
BHV Paris: one of the best department stores in Paris. Merci: trendy concept store and décor. You will find also top fashion boutiques and designers in the area, especially rue Charlot and rue Poitou.
Rue des Francs-Bourgeois
Rue des Rosiers
Christophe Lemaire´s boutique, rue Poitou
Merci, rue Charlot
Where to eat?
Some of the best restaurants of the capital are in Le Marais. Some have only very few seats which gives them an intimate and private atmosphere. At Claude Colliot’s restaurant, we rediscover the forgotten vegetables and spices in a modern setting. The Renard is an unusual restaurant, settled in a former theater dating from the 1920s and introduced by Rasmus Michau, the king of Parisian nights and the director of the Institut du Bonheur. And Le Marais hosts typical Parisian bistros too, such as Les enfants rouges. Nestled in the heart of the Marché des enfants rouges, this property suggests a selection of cold meats from Auvergne, generous wines and classic dishes like chicken and mash potatoes. Delicious! After a long walk, you can take a well earned break and stop by La Pâtisserie “Fées” on rue Rambuteau, their pastries are simply to die for.
Les enfants rouges
You might want to have a time out at Le Petit Fer à Cheval, in the Gorgeous atmospheric street, rue du Vieille du Temple. The tiny entrance, flanked by a couple of postcards-sized pavement tables, conceals a generous dining room at the rear, while in front the shining bar welcomes drinkers, quick lunches and dining alone.
Stylishly shabby, Le Petit Fer à Cheval has the air of an authentic bistro, all dark wood, reclaimed Métro benches, patchy plaster, arty posters and gilt-edged lettering on the signs outside. The menu, too, is solidly bistro – affordable sandwiches, coffee, drinks and snacks, and a more substantial, beautifully done selection of things like duck confit, steak and salads. All in all, a lovely atmosphere, good food and classic Parisian vibe.
On the same street, L´Etoile Manquante and La Belle Hortense are also worth having a coffee break.