With its rich architectural displays, charming shops and tiny crooked Medieval streets, you simply cannot miss the Marais. Developed in the 12th century, the rich installed themselves comfortably in the ancient marsh, leaving their mark with their posh mansions and residences. It remained a coveted address for the wealthy until the Revolution, when they abandoned their houses, leaving the area to deteriorate. Saved from being razed by Haussmann and Napoleon III, and after a period of restoration in the 60s, the Marais retains its pre-Revolutionary architecture and old-world charm to this day.
The Lower Marais is known for its Jewish community: Le Memorial de la Shoah (17 rue Geoffroy l'Asnier) and Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaisme (71 rue du Temple) are a testament to this. Rue des Rosiers, rue des Ecouffes and rue Pavée host a dense concentration of falafel stands, hammams, and kosher delicatessens, as well as a number of Orthodox synagogues.
There are a lot of buildings, architecture, monuments and gardens to take in. The Hotel de Ville, Paris's city hall, is probably the most lavish structure in the Lower Marais. Rebuilt in 1873, after being burned during the Commune of 1871, it regularly hosts free exhibits within its walls, and its square comes alive during different seasons, transforming into a sandy beach in the summer or a skating rink in the winter.
A few meters to the west of Hotel de Ville is the lone gothic bell tower Tour St. Jacques, which is all that remains of the 16th century Saint-Jacques-La-Boucherie church. It now serves as a weather station.
Walking towards the direction of Hotel de Ville along the Seine, turn left from Quai des Celestins to the tiny rue des Jardins Saint-Paul where you'll find the remnants of the 12th century fortress wall built by King Philippe Auguste to define Paris's boundaries.
Continuing down the street you'll find yourself in the charming St. Paul Village, where courtyards are connected by quaint maze-like streets. Here you can wander the afternoon away, popping into art galleries and artisan boutiques, and during the weekend there are yard sales where you'll probably find the perfect antique accessory that has eluded you until now!
Pass by Hotel de Sully (62 rue Saint-Antoine), constructed in 1624 and classified as a historic monument in 1862. You can cross its two courtyards and drink in this hotel particulier's Renaissance-style architecture before exiting the second courtyard which will lead you to Paris's oldest planned residential square, the Place des Vosges. Originally called Place Royale, it was inaugurated by Louis XIII in 1612. Thirty-six symmetrical brick houses and arcades border the leafy square, where Parisians, firm believers in sunbathing only in front of the most beautiful structures in the city, usually kick off their shoes to relax during sunny days. You can visit Victor Hugo's house, number 6, now a museum dedicated to the celebrated novelist.
Shopping - lots of it - can be had by walking down rue des Francs Bourgeois, which eventually turns into rue Rambuteau. With stores like Zadig & Voltaire, the casual-classy Comptoir des Cotonniers, Gerard Darel, Muji, L'Occitaine and L'Eclaireur − it's bound to be a long walk to the Pompidou Center (rue Saint-Martin). Open since 1977, it now holds an astounding collection of modern and contemporary art, and its inside-out structure of colourful pipes and air ducts make it a sight to behold.
Don't be surprised to find a long queue in front of L'As du Fallafel (34 rue des Rosiers), the undisputed king of falafel joints in the Marais — and most probably in Paris. Its slogan, "Always imitated, never equaled", will have you nodding your head in agreement. Expect a meal at the neobistro Metropolitan (8 rue de Jouy) to be a bit pricey, but it will give you a sampling of Top Chef contestant Paul-Arthur Berlan's cuisine. Book a table at Jaja (3 rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie), yet another neobistro with a terrace/patio open during sunny days (try to stop by for lunch when the menu is cheaper). A few steps from Place des Vogues, head over to Icho, an izakaya known for its sushi-and-wine pairings: seating is limited so reserve in advance.
Agathe was absolutely delightful! Her knowledge and charming personality made her an excellent tour guide. I would highly suggest this tour!!
Jesica was a great tour guide and made the experience one of the highlights of our entire trip to Paris. It certainly met our expectations.
Marjorie was just great! I didn't really want to do the Louvre but she made the history come alive in stories and I just LOVED our experience!
Alberto was a great guide, he was very informative. The Catacombs were just awesome. Would definitely recommend this to everyone!!
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