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Marais:  Paris' Historic Arrondissement

Place des Vosges Marais Paris France

The Marais is one of the city's oldest areas, with parts of the neighborhood dating back to the 12th century. The historic buildings and narrow streets were both expertly preserved and neglected as the rest of Paris raced into the 21st century. Le Marais occupies parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements on the right bank of the Seine River and can be reached from several metro lines, including lines 1, 5, 8 and 11. Throughout history, the Marais was home to such esteemed figures as Robespierre, Victor Hugo, John Galliano and the Princess of Rohan Soubise. Here you'll find a blend of medieval narrow lanes, trendy bars and restaurants, high fashion, and small ethnic communities. In contrast to many of the wide avenues and vast city squares of Paris, here you'll find quaint, narrow lanes and specialty shops.

Among the highlights of Marais are the Hôtel de Sens, an elegant medieval home dating back to 1519; the remains of Philippe-August's fortress and fortifications meant to keep some people in and invaders out; St. Paul-St. Louis Church at 99 Rue Saint-Antoine with its 59.4 meter high dome and the Sainte-Catherine-du-Val-des-Ecoliers. Another stunning church in the area is the Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais Church. Le Marais is home to the 1240 Temple built by the Order of the Temple and the 13th century former residence of King Louis IX's brother at 7 Rue de Sevigne. Hotel Saint-Pol is another former royal residence built in 1361 for King Charles V. The French nobility took a liking to this elite area and had their mansions constructed here including the Hotel de Guenegaud, Hotel de Sully, Hotel de Sens and Hotel de Soubise. Many of the famous Hotels Particuliers are now museums like the Picasso Museum (which was reopened in the summer 2013 after renovations) in the Hotel Sale and the Paris Historical Museum in the Hotel Carvavalet. Le Marais is a hub of art galleries and museums, it is a fashionable district where you can shop for designer labels and view some of the world's finest art work.

Prior to WWII the area around Rue des Rosiers was populated by a strong Jewish community and although the Jewish area, Pletzl, was targeted by the Nazis during the war, today it is once again a thriving Jewish area. You can find Jewish bookstores, kosher restaurants including the "best falafel in the world" at L'As du Falafel, fantastic Jewish delicatessens and bakeries, and stores selling Judaica in the area around the 1913 Art Nouveau synagogue at 10 Rue Pavée. The Musee d'Art et d'Historoire du Judaisme can be found in the Hotel de Saint-Aignan.

The diverse area is also home to a large Chinese community around Place de la Republique and on Rue du Temple where the Chinese Church of Paris can be seen. Establishments catering to the gay community can be found in the southwestern part of Le Marais around Sainte-Croix de-la-Bretonnerie and Rue des Archives.
You can explore the covered passage ways of Saint-Paul Village where there are art galleries, antique stores and specialty food shops as well as craft stores. To pick up a bargain visit the yard sales held here on the weekends. Shopaholics will love the plethora of vintage and second-hand clothing stores near the Picasso Museum, the most famous being Free'p'Star.

One of Marais' streets with many bars, cafes and restaurants is Rue Saint-Paul and for a shady square visit the 13th century Place du Marche Sainte-Catherine. Another famous square is Place des Vosges leading from Hotel de Sully, this is thought to be one of the city's most beautiful squares.  

France Homestyle has a wide range of vacation rental apartments in Marais.  Apartments that can sleep from 2 to 5 persons that are all centrally located in both 3rd and 4th arrondissements of Paris.  Rue du Temple is a comfortable rental apartment located in a quiet 17th century building with a view over a garden courtyard.  Bella Marais is a two bedroom stylish apartment fully renovated in 2011 by by an Italian architect/artist couple who own the apartment.