The Marais, once a marsh and not even important enough to be included in the walled Paris of King Philippe-Auguste, is now a hot spot and one of the most desirable residential areas of the city. An eclectic mix of fashion and Jewish history, this neighborhood is not to be missed by history and art lovers alike. Even if you can’t afford the high-priced apartments, you can still enjoy the area like a local and wander its streets. Of all the great things to do in Paris, the Marais must be at the top of your list.
1. L’As du Fallafel
34, rue des Rosiers
No visit to the Marais is complete without a stop at this famed falafel shop. You can’t miss it—just look for the long line of tripists and locals standing in front of the dark green facade. It has been chosen as the best falafel in Paris, and was hyped even more by Lenny Kravitz, so stop in and decide for yourself.
2. La Gaîté Lyrique
3 bis, rue Papin
This is one of the newest art venues in Paris, where live musical performances, a research center for the arts, and film screenings as well as special presentations and lectures are combined in a three-story space controlled by the curator’s iPad. It’s very cutting edge and a must for modern-art lovers.
Place des Vosges.
3. Place des Vosges
Off the rue des Francs Bourgeois, near the rue de Turenne
The oldest and most beautiful square in Paris, this is the perfect place to admire the surrounding homes and shops owned by some of the wealthiest Parisians and famed politicians. During the summer you can find women in bikinis lounging in the sun around the serene fountains and chestnut trees. It’s one of the few parks where you can actually touch the grass in the spring and summer.
Place des Vosges.
4. La Belle Hortense
31, rue Vieille du Temple
Love books and wine? Then this is the shop for you. Find peace from the bustling streets of the Marais inside this book shop/wine restaurant, which offers rare, independent and classic reads. The wine list is quite lengthy and as vintage as the books. The shop also hosts readings and literary events weekly.
26, rue Saint-Antoine
This is the best place in Paris to find luxury-brand shoes. They are at the top of the current fashion, and they are expensive, but you definitely get what you pay for. Try to stop here during the sales week during the winter and spring months to save some cash.
6. Mon Amour
77, rue Charlot
If you’re looking for fashion from all around the world, look no further than Mon Amour. Discover your inner vintage-fashion self through this shop, created by three former designers—Christophe Lemaire, Sandrine Arnone and Narumi Omori. There is a good selection of clothes and accessories from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, including designers such as YSL, Yohji Yamamoto, Dior and Lanvin.
Mon Amour. Photo via monamourvintage.blogspot.fr.
7. L’Eclair de Génie
14, rue Pavée
Had enough macarons and croissants for one day? The French are always on the verge of the newest food trends, and this year it seems to be decadent éclairs. Offering a wide variety of flavors, including vanilla and black currant as well as praline cream with hazelnut, you will be salivating for more.
8. Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione
110, rue Amelot
One of the oldest circuses in the world, and operated by the same family for decades, the show runs from October to March and includes acrobats, death-defying stunts, tigers and an orchestra. Enjoy a French circus experience inside the beautiful historic interior.
Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione. Photo via paris-saint-honore.com.
9. Breizh Café
109, rue Vieille du Temple
Reservations are a must at what could be the best crêperie in Paris. Here only the highest-quality ingredients are used, and there is a list of more than 50 different ciders to accompany the savory crêpes. You may even want to indulge in one of the inventive buckwheat galettes, such as the Cancalaise, made with potato, smoked herring from Brittany and herring roe.
10. Fabien Breuvart Images & Portraits
35–37, rue Charlot
This little shop specializes in anonymous vintage photography. Find the perfect photo memento to remember your dreamy trip to Paris among the boxes of funny, mysterious, and extraordinary images that line the walls. These images tell thousands of stories and make for a tender afternoon of browsing and losing yourself in their charm. Fabien also offers portrait services and hosts a monthly exhibition.
If you want to explore more charming areas like this one, consider getting a downloadable set of our walking trips. There are 18 in all, and they help you uncover the best parts of Paris.
L’As du Fallafel
La Gaîté Lyrique
Place des Vosges
La Belle Hortense
L’Eclair de Génie
Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione
Fabien Breuvart Images & Portraits
Krystal Kenney is an American living in Paris as a photographer and writer. Her specialty is romantic photography trips in the City of Love.