The 4th arrondissement of Paris, Le Marais, is one of its most quaint, yet most bustling. Jam‐packed with shops, cafés, small museums and some the oldest architecture in Paris, a walk though its ancient maze‐like streets is an extraordinary way to spend the day.
Begin your walking tour at the Metro: Saint Paul. With your back to the Seine, take a right out of the metro onto Rue Saint Antoine, walk down a few blocks and then take a right onto Rue Saint Paul, a darling street filled with antique dealers, artisan galleries and bookshops. On the right hand side of the street (when heading toward the Seine) lies the Village Saint Paul. A hidden treasure comprised of a lovely series of interconnected courtyards. Reserved for pedestrians, it’s a quiet and unique place. Well worth the detour.
After you’ve explored the enclosed ‘village’, find your way back to Rue Saint Paul. Heading toward the Seine again, make a right onto Rue Charlemagne, wander along it towards Rue de Nonnains D’Hyères, onto which you will make a left, heading towards the river. These two streets are some of the most ancient in Paris, offering amazing examples of its earliest architecture.Read more
Rue de Nonnains D’Hyères will take you directly onto the banks of the Seine where you will cross over the river via the Pont Marie in order to access L’Ile Saint Louis, surely one of Paris’ most picturesque sights. Walk over the bridge (Pont Marie) and go straight until you reach the island’s one main street Rue Saint Louis en L’Ile. Make a right onto it and wander along the length of the street to find a dazzling array of specialty food shops and restaurants. At the tip of l’Ile St. Louis, stop and have an ice cream cone at Paris’ most famous ice cream purveyor Berthillon. While you’re enjoying your cone, gaze over the Seine to see the back end of the majestic Notre Dame Cathedral, or watch the dazzling street performers wowing the crowds on the Pont Saint Louis.
When you’re done exploring L’Ile Saint Louis head back towards the Marais by crossing over the bridge Pont Louis Philippe, which will lead you to the Rue du Pont Louis Philippe. This is one of the city’s best streets for buying quality stationery goods. It is lined with exceptional specialty paper shops, well worth a visit if you’re in the market for this sort of item. Parallel to Rue du Pont Louis Philippe lies Rue des Barres, a cute pedestrian street that leads to a lovely old church called L’Église Saint Gervais, the oldest parish on the Right Bank.
After your detour to the church you can continue on Rue du Pont Louis Philippe until you cross over the Rue de Rivoli (a major thoroughfare that runs from here to Place de la Concorde) after which Rue du Pont Louis Philippe becomes Rue Vieille de Temple.
Once you are on Rue Vieille de Temple, you will be heading into the epicenter of the Marais and its famous boutiques.
At the start (bottom end) of Rue Vieille de Temple you will find a series of great cafés where locals and tourists linger for hours watching the fashionable and fun crowds file by. The trendiest of these cafés are clustered together near a tiny, ancient, deadend street called Rue du Trésor.
CAFES & SHOPPING
Our favorite cafés on this bustling stretch are:
• Les Philosophes
• La Chaise Au Plafond
• Le Petit Fer à Cheval
• L’Etoile Manquante
We also love this great little wine bar come bookshop: La Belle Hortense.
A bit further up Rue Vieille du Temple you’ll come across Rue des Rosiers on your right. This is one of the oldest streets in Paris and was once the center of the city’s Jewish community. Specialty food shops and the now legendary falafel spots like Chez Marianne and L’As du Falafel can be found on this street.
Continuing on Rue Vieille du Temple you will come its intersection with Rue des Francs Bourgeois. Before the Marais’ underground designers spread into the upper part of the Marais (now referred to as the Haut Marais), these streets were the streets in Paris to find trendy things. They are still filled with original chic shops, many of which have since expanded to mini‐chains due to the success they first encountered on this famous street.
If shopping is your thing, we recommend a leisurely browse down the length of Rue des Francs Bourgeois. This area is so dense with great shops, restaurants and cafés that listing them all is near impossible. Please consult the accompanying map, on which we’ve highlighted other neighbouring streets worth wandering down.
Here are some of our favorite shops in the area:
RUE DU BOURG TIBOURG
30 Rue du Bourg-Tibourg
Ph. 01 42 72 28 11
Hours 7/7 Shop – 10.30am-7.30pm & Salon du thé 3-7pm
This is one of the most exquisite tea rooms in town. Done in a vintage colonial style, the white-gloved waiters provide old-fashioned elegance for a sumptuous high tea. The front of the tearoom is also a tea shop, which sells an amazing selection of the best blends from all over the world. The added benefit being that the tins they come in also double as terrific keepsakes.
RUE VIEILLE DU TEMPLE
RUE DES BLANCS MANTEAUX
RUE SAINTE CROIX DE LA BRETONNERIE
One of the best vintage shops in town (which also has two other locations nearby in the Marais). Very cheap, and there are great deals to be had if you don’t might cramped quarters and battling with gorgeous models for the best finds!
RUE DES FRANCS BOURGEOIS
• BA & SH
• Et Vous
You may also want to stop by and take a gander at Paris’ ornate City Hall on Place de L’Hotel de Ville and then cross the street on Rue de Rivoli to browse Paris’ legendary superstore the BHV (Bazaar de L’Hotel de Ville). This enormous department store, sells, literally everything. From make up, to housewares, from interior design to major appliances, from hardware to hats, from paint to pillows, this store has it all!!
There are also a number of small museums in the area worth visiting:
Hotel de Sully
62 Rue Saint‐Antoine
This main building of this Louis XIII residence is closed to visitors but the main yard and gardens can be traversed en route to the Place des Vosges during business hours.
Maison Européene de la Photographie
5/7 Rue de Fourcy
Ph. 01 48 78 75 00
Hours W-Sun 11am-8pm
Metro: Saint-Paul (1)
Once you hit Rue de Turenne, you’ve come to the end of Rue des Francs Bourgeois. Crossing over Rue de Turenne will lead you directly onto Place des Vosges – Paris’ oldest square. Originally built under Henri IV from 1605 – 1612, it is a spectacular construction comprised of majestic brick buildings and arcades. This magical place surrounds a lovely, bustling, center garden. Walking across the square north to south and through the center southern arcade will lead you back to Rue Saint Antoine and the Saint Paul metro station right nearby.
Bonus! If the weather’s nice and you’re in the mood, we’ve got one more secret treat for you. Scan your map and you’ll notice that just off Rue de Turenne there’s a little square called Place du Marché Sainte Catherine, get ready to take an additional vacation without leaving town! This incredible little oasis feels just like a Provence town square. Bordered by a selection of restaurants, each cuter than the next, we encourage you to grab an outdoor table and end your day toasting to all the unexpected treasures that Paris has to offer.
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