Le Marais is a charming neighborhood in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. There are plenty of things to do in Le Marais, the trendiest and most diverse community in the heart of Paris.
Visitors come to experience its unique blend of old-world charm and modern-day flair. The Marais district boasts an eclectic mix of charming cobblestone streets, historic architecture, trendy boutiques, precious art galleries and museums, gourmet restaurants, hip bars and pubs. The aristocratic Parisian district is also the city’s most prominent Jewish quarter and the LGBT community.
This Le Marais Guide covers what to do in Le Marais, where to stay in Le Marais, and many hidden looks and crannies. On y va!
Table of Contents
Check out my other articles to plan your perfect trip to the City of Light!
- Start here >> Paris Itinerary for 4 days
- Then this >> Where to Stay in Paris First Time
- Should you buy Paris Pass or Paris Museum Pass?
- 10 Best Small Museums in Paris Without the Crowds
- Female Solo Travelers >> How to Take a Fabulous Solo Trip to Paris & 15 Things to Do Alone
- Shopping: 10 Trendy Travel Shoes for Paris
- Shopping: Best Shopping Guide in Le Marais
- Food: 25 Iconic French Desserts in Paris
- Food: 20 Best Casual Restaurants in Paris
- Paris Neighborhood Guide: Hidden Gems in Montmartre
- Paris Neighborhood Guide: 22 Amazing Things to Do in Le Marais
- 7 Most Beautiful Covered Passages in Paris
- Day Trip: How to Survive Overcrowded Palace of Versailles in Summer
- Day Trip: Best Paris Day Trip for Spring & Summer: Giverny Monet’s Gardens
- Weekend Trips from Paris by Train or Car
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A Guide to Le Marais: Historic & Fashionable District of Paris
How to get to Le Marais
There are two metro lines within Le Marais: Line 1 (yellow) and Line 11 (brown). But you can also take Line 8 (pink) to reach Haut Marais.
- Saint-Paul (Line 1)
- Hôtel de Ville (Line 1 & 11)
- Saint-Sébastien – Froissart (Line 8)
- Chemin Vert (Line 8)
Le Marais Neighborhood
Le Marais (“the Marsh”) was once a swampy marshland. When the Place Royale (now Place des Vosges) was built in the 17th century, the French nobles started to move in as they wanted to live close to the king. The area finally transformed into a fashionable aristocratic neighborhood.
During the Second Empire, Napoleon III commissioned Baron Haussmann to modernize Paris. The Haussmann project demolished and rebuilt the city from the ground up. Le Marais is one of the few neighborhoods untouched by this massive project; thus, many buildings and medieval streets remained among the oldest in the city. And the labyrinth of Paris’ Middle Ages village has been well-preserved.
This historic district is a hub of art, fashion and gastronomy in Paris today. It is home to iconic museums, including Centre Pompidou and Picasso Museum, and independent art galleries. The area is also dotted with boutique shops, trendy eateries and bars. In a nutshell, Le Marais is THE place you should not miss out!
Le Marais stretches through the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in the heart of Paris. The northern part of the area is also called Haut Marais.
Where to Stay in Le Marais
Is Le Marais a good place to stay?
Le Marais is one of my favorite areas to stay in Paris. I highly recommend staying in the Marais district for anyone, but especially for the first-timers.
Its central location makes your trip convenient. And the neighborhood is the quintessential Paris, where old-world charms meet modern chic. You have many options for restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, etc. within walking distance.
Is Le Marais safe at night?
Most likely, yes! While Le Marais is lively during the day and night with shopping, restaurants and bars, it is also residential. This neighborhood is one of the most prestigious areas to live in Paris. As such, it is safe.
Of course, there is no place with 100% guaranteed safety. You should still need to stay alert and trust your gut. But it is less likely to spot suspicious people for pickpockets than the Eiffel Tower or Champs-Élysées. Even in the evening, the streets are always full of tourists and locals. I felt comfortable walking alone, so I recommend staying in Le Marais for solo female travelers.
Where to Stay in Paris?
Paris has 20 arrondissements with distinctive pockets of neighborhoods. While Paris is gorgeous, some areas are better than others for tourists to stay. Here’s your guide to 10 Best Areas in Paris for all travel styles and budgets.
Best Places to Stay in Le Marais
Hôtel Sookie (4*) is a very cute boutique hotel in the fashionable Haute Marais. It is in the middle of the action, close to Saint-Sébastien – Froissart metro station (Line 4), where you are a block away from shops and restaurants. The rooms are not huge (standard in Paris) but tastefully decorated and efficient. I stayed in this chic hotel and loved it. | A/C & Heater: Yes. Elevator: Yes.
Hôtel Jules & Jim (4*) is a popular hotel in the heart of Le Marais with superb reviews. The hip hotel is near the Arts et Métiers metro station. Some rooms have balconies with views of the Sacré-Cœur. There is also a courtyard with an outdoor fireplace where you can sip wine. | A/C: Yes. Elevator: No.
Le Compostelle (3*) is an affordable hotel on the street lined with boutiques and restaurants. | A/C: No. Heater: Yes. Elevator: Yes.
Beauquartier Paris is a chic studio apartment with a fully equipped kitchenette, washing machine, and terrace. The modern spacious apt in an excellent location like this is a rare gem in this area. | A/C: No. Heater: Yes. Elevator: Yes.
Best Guided Walking Tours in Le Marais
>> Le Marais Walking Tour: Walk into the Middle Ages and Renaissance Paris and marvel at the beautiful mansions and little streets.
>> Le Marais Bike Tour: Explore the historic district on an e-bike
>> Jewish History Walking Tour: Discover the cultural legacy of the Jewish quarter in the heart of Paris
>> Le Marais Food Walking Tour: Munch on French delicacies while discovering hidden gems of the trendy Le Marais.
What to Do in Le Marais
#1. Hôtel de Ville
The Hôtel de Ville is the city hall of Paris, locates in the Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville in the 4th arrondissement. It was first built in the 14th century, then the reconstruction was completed in the late 19th century. The architecture features a beautiful Renaissance style designed by Italian architect Boccador.
Since the French Revolution, the building has held political significance. It also hosts cultural events and exhibits throughout the year. At the square, there is a music festival in summer and an ice rink in winter. Christmas market is another most anticipated event. (I have seen a fancy merry-go-round at some point as well).
Admission: Free | Hours: 10 am-7 pm, Closed on Sat & Sun | Location: [Open Google Map]
Insider Tip: Hôtel, in French, can mean a hotel we know. But there are a few occasions when it means something else. When it is a hôtel de ville, it becomes a city hall. A hôtel particulier refers to a grand townhouse of the French nobles and bourgeois; in the 17th and 18th centuries, they built a free-standing luxury residence with a courtyard in the city, almost a miniature version of their châteaux in the countryside.
#2. Église Saint-Paul Saint-Louis
Église Saint-Paul Saint-Louis is a 17th-century baroque church on rue Saint-Antoine, listed as a historical monument since 1887. The Jesuit church was inspired by the Church of the Gesu in Rome, hence showcasing a blend of French and Italian Baroque architecture. It has gone through a complete renovation in 2012.
The historical church has been one of the most significant religious buildings in Paris. The Cardinal Richelieu celebrated the opening mass. And Victor Hugo’s daughter’s wedding was held here.
Some original ornaments were damaged or destroyed during the French Revolution. But step inside to see the remaining sculptures, paintings, and other embellishments.
Admission: Free | Hours: 8 am – 8 pm | Location: Le Marais, Paris 4e Arr. [Open Google Map]
#3. Le Village Saint-Paul
Le Village Saint-Paul is a maze of alleys and covered passageways filled with vintage and antique stores. The quiet area has the medieval village look and feel. It is fun to navigate through the cobblestone streets. You can also find something unique from Parisian artisan stores.
Hours: 11 am – 7 pm | Location: [Open Google Map]
#4. Place des Vosges
Place des Vosges in the charming historic neighborhood of Le Marais is one of the oldest urban parks in Paris. The greenery is surrounded by shops and cafes in red brick houses.
This quaint park used to be the Place Royale. During the 17th and 18th centuries, it was fashionable to live here among the French nobility. One of these mansions on the corner is the Maison de Victor Hugo (#5), now a heritage museum. And Jardin de l’Hôtel de Sully (#6) is at another corner.
It is an excellent place to stroll or rest on the bench. This gated urban park should be open most of the time. (But one time I went during the day, it was closed without notice.)
Admission: Free | Location: [Open Google Map]
#5. Maison de Victor Hugo
Even if you did not grow up reading the French literature, you most likely have heard of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Both of them were made as a movie and musical.
Victor Hugo is the celebrated French writer who authored both books. The famous writer lived in Le Marais for 16 years, from 1832 to 1848. His former residence is located at the corner of Place des Vosges, and has been turned into a museum dedicated to his life. You can explore the preserved apartment and see some of his belongings and manuscripts.
Admission: Free. Audio guides (French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese): €5 | Hours: 10 am – 6 pm (Closed Mondays) | Location: [Open Google Map]
#6. Jardin de l’Hôtel de Sully
L’Hôtel de Sully is one of the most exquisite hôtel particuliers in Le Marais. This impressive Louis XIII-style mansion used to belong to the Duke of Sully, former Superintendent of Finances to King Henri IV.
While the interior is not open to the public, except for the souvenir shop, enjoy the stunning gardens and the Hôtel de Sully’s architecture. It is easy to miss if you don’t know which gate is the entrance; it is at the corner of the Place des Vosges at the opposite end of Maison de Victor Hugo.
Admission: Free. | Hours: 9 am – 7 pm | Location: [Open Google Map]
#7. Musée Carnavalet
Carnavalet Museum is the oldest museum in Paris and one of the hidden gems in Le Marais. The museum opened in 1880, occupying two hôtel particuliers from the 16th and 17th centuries, later renovated in the 19th century. Interestingly, Madame de Sévigné, a lover of King Louis XIV and a writer, once lived in one of the townhomes from 1677 to 1696.
From the signages to door panels to an entire jewelry shop, its unusual collection from the various periods of Paris makes this museum an amusing place to visit. You can learn about the extensive Parisian history, dating back 2,500 years ago. Besides the 17th/18th-century artworks, you can appreciate charming interiors and classic furniture.
Admission: Free. | Hours: 10 am – 6 pm (Closed Mondays) | Location: [Open Google Map]
#8. Musée National Picasso-Paris
Picasso Museum is housed in the Hôtel Salé located in the historic Le Marais. The architect Jean-François Bodin renovated the 17th-century private mansion to house 5,000 artworks by Pablo Picasso, from his paintings to ceramics.
April 8, 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Pablo Picasso. The Musée Picasso Paris celebrated his life and heritage milestones with the special exhibit “Célébration Picasso, La Collection Trend des Couleurs” by the British designer Sir Paul Smith.
Admission: €14 [Book tickets here. Included in Paris Museum Pass or The Paris Pass (4&6-day passes)] | Hours: 10:30 am – 6 pm. Sat & Sun opens at 9:30 am. (Closed Monday.) | Location:[Open Google Map]
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#10. Le Centre Pompidou
The Pompidou Center is home to a public library, a center for music and acoustic research (IRCAM) and the National Museum of Modern Art (Musée National d’Art Moderne) with iconic artist collections, such as Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Kahlo, Andy Warhol, etc.
The avant-garde building is also a piece of artwork. Instantly recognized by the exterior escalators in glass tubes, it is a 20th-century architectural marvel in the heart of Paris. (Did you know all functional structures are color-coded in the building?) Its rooftop unfolds a breathtaking view of Paris.
Insider Tip: This famous museum gets busy. Get there first thing in the morning. Visit its rooftop restaurant, Place Georges-Pompidou, for a fantastic view.
#11. Atelier Brâncuși
A small corner of the Pompidou Center, L’Atelier Brâncuși presents the sculptures by Constantin Brâncuși. The studio was recreated by the architect Renzo Piano. The atelier is not big; you can see the Romanian sculptor’s work through the glass walls. It is a quick stop, but still a gem.
Admission: Free | Hours: 2-6 pm (Closed Tuesdays) | Location: [Open Google Map]
#12. Art Galleries
Le Marais is dotted with excellent independent art galleries. If you are interested in discovering up-and-coming artists, Le Marais would be a perfect neighborhood for gallery hopping and shopping for collectible art. While the galleries can be intimidating to step in, they are open to the public, free of charge. Some of them are locked, and you need to be buzzed in, though. I walked into one of them during a champagne-flowing event. I did not have an invitation, but they were welcoming. (My local friend even spotted a French celebrity.)
If you do not know where to go, here are a few to start with:
#13. Rue des Rosiers
Le Marais is the hub for Franco-Jewish life in Paris. And the famous street is part of it.
Rue des Rosiers translates to “street of rosebushes.” As promising as it sounds, it is one of the prettiest streets in Paris. The cobblestone street with a quaint village feel is lined with delicious yet affordable eateries and cute shops. One of the iconic French dessert shops is on this street as well.
Jardin des Rosiers Joseph Migneret is a small community garden with rose bushes. It is a perfect lunch picnic spot tucked away from the busy streets. Pick up falafels and baklava on Rue des Rosiers to enjoy your lunch break and get some sunshine.
Location: [Open Google Map]
#14. Jewish Quarter
Le Marais is the historic Jewish quarter of Paris. Since the Jews immigrated to France, fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe in the 19th century, Jewish emigration continued to the mid-20th century, creating the “Pletzl” (“little place”) in Le Marais.
Until today, numerous Jewish businesses, including restaurants, synagogues, bookstores, and kosher markets, are present along the Rue des Rosiers. You may also visit the Jardin Anne-Frank [Open Google Map].
Take a Jewish History Walking Tour or a Private Tour, including a visit to the Museum of the Art and History of Judaism to learn more about the Jewish heritage in the neighborhood. (The admission to the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme is also included in the Paris Museum Pass or The Paris Pass (4&6-day passes).)
#15. LGBT Community
In general, the LGBT community is well-accepted in Paris. The city elected an openly gay man, Bertrand Delanoë, as the mayor in 2001 and re-elected him in 2008. (Although I should add that he got stabbed once for being a socialist homosexual politician.)
The center for the LGBT community is Le Marais. As Le Marais embraces cultural diversity, the most fashionable district of Paris is home to many LGBT-friendly restaurants, bars and hotels in the area. This is where Paris Gay Pride (Marche des Fiertés) takes place each year in June.
I have to say, though, that the LGBT culture in Le Marais is somewhat subtle. I did see some rainbow umbrellas hanging, but I don’t recall noticing any typical signs that I would expect to see in the Castro District in San Francisco, for example. If you want to be part of the scene, you might want to visit a bar or club.
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#16. Rue Vieille du Temple for Trendy Shopping
Rue Vieille du Temple is one of Paris’ oldest and trendiest streets, filled with boutique shops, hip restaurants and bars. It runs from Rue de Rivoli to Rue de Bretagne.
This quintessential Parisian street houses the hottest brand shops. Whether you want to go window shopping to see what’s trendy or buy the IT style, it is an excellent place to cruise. I discovered many French brands right here at Rue Vieille du Temple!
Location: [Open Google Map]
#17. Vintage Shopping
It is no secret that Paris is the holy grail destination for vintage shopping. As chic French women would go for the timeless, classy style instead of chasing after the latest trend, the concept of vintage works very much French.
While Le Marais is known for trendy shops, it is also the ultimate destination for thrifting. With more than a dozen vintage shops, there is a wide range of options from dirt-cheap thrifting to luxury consignment for your treasure hunt pleasure.
#18. Concept Stores
Le Marais is the best place to check out hip concept stores in Paris. These concept stores not only carry trendy fashion and accessories but also have unique home decor, furniture, kitchenware, stationery, postcards, jewelry, and many more. And some of them have the best coffee in the city. Visit Merci, The Broken Arm, Empreintes, Ofr. and Bensimon.
#19. Jardin de l’hôtel de Lamoignon
Jardin de l’Hôtel-Lamoignon is a tiny secret garden in the heart of Le Marais. This gated garden belongs to Hôtel Lamoignon, one of many beautiful hôtel particuliers in the neighborhood currently used as a history library.
It is easy to pass by without setting foot into this small flower garden. But it is open to the public. You are welcome to appreciate the architecture and flowers and eat a croissant on the bench.
Hours: 8 am – 8:30 pm | Location: [Open Google Map]
#20. Street Art in Marais
As a cultural center for art, Le Marais is the perfect neighborhood to spot urban artworks, from murals to graffiti.
Some murals make a presence on an entire wall. But many of them in Marais are small and located on the second floor (French 1st floor) on the corner of the buildings, like a charm. So look up from time to time as you walk along the streets, and you will see mosaic tile pixels resembling the characters of the arcade game.
#21. Bibliothèque Forney
The Hôtel de Sens was built for the archbishops of Sen in 1345. This rare medieval civil architecture was later used by King Charles V before he moved to the Louvre Palace. The original building was destroyed and rebuilt as a 16th-century hôtel particulier you see today.
Now a protected heritage site since 1862, this architectural gem houses a Fashion library with a lovely garden. The Forney Library has 50,000 exhibition catalogs, 4,000 newspapers, and rich iconographic collections dedicated to decorative arts, arts and crafts, graphic arts, fashion, advertising, and design.
Hours: 1-7 pm (Closed on Sundays and Mondays.) | Location: [Open Google Map]
#22. Marché Couvert des Enfants Rouges
No matter where you go, it is always fun to visit a local market. Marché Couvert des Enfants Rouges is a historic covered market in Haut Marais with various vendors selling produce, cheese, flowers and street food.
This is not a one-stop market where you pick up all your groceries. While it is neither a huge market nor a farmer’s market, you will find many food stalls for lunch, where you find diverse international food.
Hours: 8:30 am – 8:30 pm (Sunday closed at 5 pm) Closed on Mondays. | Location: [Open Google Map]
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