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Marais Tour

Must-see spots in an old neighborhood brimming with character and history
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2.6 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview :  The Marais makes it easy to imagine what the City of Light was like during medieval and Renaissance times. The neighborhood has been... more »

Tips:  Unlike most of Paris, businesses in the Marais stay open on Sunday. That makes this a good tour to do while the rest of town is shut... more »

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Points of Interest

This Metro station is on the 7 line. You will exit on the main roads right off of the Seine.

2. Sens Mansion and Forney Museum (Hôtel de Sens and Bibliothèque Forney)

This private mansion was constructed around the turn of the 16th century. It now functions as a public library dedicated to decorative arts and houses a few temporary exhibitions. It is full of posters, postcards, wallpaper, photographs and old advertisements, some of which are available to borrow for lucky members of the Paris public library... More

3. Saint-Paul Village

The "village" is a block of buildings dedicated to boutiques, galleries, antiques and specialty shops all connected through a maze of courtyards. The area runs from Rue Saint-Antoine down to the Seine. It is mostly centralized around Rue Saint Paul, but includes shops on Rue Ave Maria, Rue Charlemagne and Rue Charles V. While Rue Saint... More

4. Post Card shop (Librairie Cartes Postales)

At first glance, this shop looks like somebody's messy storage space. Shelves wrap around the tiny interior, each one stacked full with unsteady piles of boxes. Further inspection reveals that these disheveled shoe boxes are actually little treasure chests of postcards from all different times and places. François Magnin collects and sells ... More

This little private grocery store and restaurant is devoted to American comfort food. Why bother going into an American grocery store in Paris? It's goofy and cliché inside, but seeing a Parisian interpretation of American culture gives interesting insight into life state side.
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Address: Rue Saint-Paul
Phone: 01 42 77 68 29
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Store... More

6. The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore

This little English-language bookstore has been around for about only a decade, but it fits the feel of the area perfectly. It's full of character and crammed with so many books there is barely enough space for people.
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Address: 22 Rue St Paul
Phone: 01 48 04 75 08
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Hours:
Monday 10am-6pm
Tuesday-Saturday 10am-7pm
Sunday 2-6pm

Once you have thoroughly perused the little nooks and crannies of Village Saint-Paul, head on up to Rue Saint Antoine and visit the Hôtel de Sully. This beautiful 17th century building is a prime example of the luxurious private mansions common to this neighborhood back when it was a fashionable area for wealthy aristocrats to live. It is... More

This is the oldest planned square in Paris, built in the early 17th century. It was originally named the Place Royale and it certainly has a royal feel to it, even though no royalty ever lived here. It has, however, been home to numerous famous French people throughout the centuries, including but not limited to Cardinal Richelieu and Victor Hugo.

Built in the early 17th century, this mansion was home to legendary author Victor Hugo for 16 years. Now it is a museum dedicated to him, with other exhibits occasionally thrown in the mix.
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Address: 6 Place des Vosges
Phone: 01 42 72 10 16
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Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm
Closed Mondays
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Admission Free

Head out the northern corner of the Place des Vosges and take a left on Rue Des Francs-Bourgeois. When you reach Rue de Sevigné, head right and you will find the Carnavalet Museum. It's dedicated to the history of Paris. The collection is housed in a combination of what used to be the Hôtel Carnavalet and the Hôtel Le Peletier... More

Another free museum in the area, this was a private collection of fine and decorative arts until it was donated by the founders of the La Samaritane department store. Most of the collection hails from the 18th century, but there are also some 17th and 19th century artists represented, including Rembrandt and Degas.
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Address: 8 Rue Elzevir
Phone... More

This museum does a wonderful job of outlining Picasso's evolution, including many of his early works so that you can see how he developed the style he became known for. Housed in another beautiful old mansion, this collection is unfortunately closed for remodeling and isn't due to open until spring 2013.
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Address: 5 Rue Thorigny
Phone: 01 42 71... More

This popular restaurant serves up hot crepes and alcoholic cider typical of the Brittany region. Food is delicious and prices are reasonable, but this means it gets crowded. A reservation is not a bad idea, especially in the evenings.
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Address: 109 Rue Vieille du Temple
Phone: 01 42 72 13 77
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Hours
Wednesday-Sunday Noon-11pm
Closed Monday,... More

When you get to Rue de Bretagne, you will find the location of the indoor market Marché des Enfants-Rouges, the oldest food market in Paris. It is open Tuesday-Saturday. You can choose from fresh produce of all sorts, including many Asian specialties. If you are hungry, you can grab something hot and ready to eat on the spot.
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Address: ... More

15. Hunting and Nature Museum (Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature)

Back down the Rue des Archives you will find the quirky Hunting and Nature Museum housed in a 17th century mansion. It exhibits a wide variety of hunting weapons, an amazing number of taxidermy animals and a cabinet of curiosities dedicated to the unicorn. The visit is both educational and amusing, totally worth the admission fee.
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Address: 62... More

This site has been a residence since the 14th century, housing everyone from Templar knights to royals. It was almost entirely rebuilt in 1705 and Napoleon III converted it into the Museum of French History. That is what it remains today, with its architecture and furnishings largely unchanged, as a part of the French National Archives.
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... More

17. Les Mots à la Bouche Gay and Lesbian Bookstore

Since the 1980s this corner of the Marais has been considered the Gay District in Paris. This funky bookstore is dedicated to that demographic and includes a wide variety of art and fashion books.

NOTE: There are a number of adult items so if you have kids along you will probably want to skip this stop.
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Address: 6 Rue Ste Croix la Bretonnerie
... More

18. Free 'P' Star Vintage Shop

The Marais is a great place to dig for hidden treasures of all sorts and this gem of a store is a destination for those seeking vintage clothes. With two locations in the Marais, Free 'P' Star offers a wide selection of vintage clothes and accessories in good condition.
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Address: 8 Rue Ste Croix la Bretonnerie
Phone: 01 42.76.03.72
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Hours: ... More

After the nobles started leaving the city in search of more space, the Marais became a commercial center and a hub for the Jewish community. It was unofficially called the "Pletzl," Yiddish for "little place," with Rue des Rosiers at the heart of it. Many Jews were chased out during the Nazi occupation, but the Jewish community... More

This immense open square marks where the city of Paris' government has been since the 14th century (though the current building dates back only to the 1870s). There is always a lot of activity around here and with its spectacular fountain and views of the river, it makes for a great spot to hang out and people watch.