What to Do in Paris’s Marais Neighborhood
In the 1300’s, King Charles V held court in Paris’s Marais neighborhood, where for the next three centuries French nobility built ornate limestone mansions. Today those mansions house must-see museums like the Picasso (Hôtel Salé) and the Carnavalet (Hôtel Carnavalet), and the locals and tourists that weave through its charming, intimate side streets lean towards the hip and young (who mix with culture hounds and the food-obsessed). Even if you don’t stay in the Marais for your entire trip to Paris, it’s worth considering a couple days here to see one of the most alluring areas of the city. Start with the six places below, but be sure to take time to wander with no plan at all—sometimes, the best places are those you simply stumble upon.
Stunningly restored and reopened in 2014, the Picasso Museum is located in an exquisite 17th century mansion. The collection contains some 5,000 works, including paints, drawings, and sculptures set throughout the museum's four floors. A rooftop café invites museum-goers to enjoy a light lunch, or simply a coffee and pastry, from Angelina's with views over the roofs of the Marais.
Some of the best and most innovative crepes in the world can be found at Breizh Café. The ambiance is warm and lively, with a distinct Japanese flavor in the form of pale wood and low lighting. The backbone of the eclectic menu is the quality of ingredients: farmers' eggs, rich, unpasteurized Gruyère, fresh shiitake mushrooms, and locally made Jean-Yves Bordier butter for starters. Artisan ciders and Breton cola pair spectacularly with Cancale oysters and Chantilly dessert crêpes alike.
In the ever-trendy Upper Marais, this food concept venue opened up in 2015, featuring dining options as well a refined grocery store for locals to pick up a few bits of quality fare. At tables overlooking Boulevard Beaumarchais, soups and salads are on the menu, as well as a few simple, inexpensive breakfast options to get the day started. Inside, vendors hold tastings and sell a variety of seasonal products and produce from farmers across the country, including cheeses, charcuterie, and, of course, wine.
This Upper Marais mecca for fashionistas is a huge, light-filled emporium dedicated to designer fashion and accessories—for men and women, jewelry, beauty, housewares, and more. The space also includes three great café spaces; a favorite among locals is on the lower ground floor overlooking the herb garden, while another space surrounds coffee drinks with books of all types.
This charming hotel features 30 guest rooms, including one suite. The rooms are small, but they are known for their lavish décor courtesy of designer Jacques Garcia. Garcia’s aesthetic includes a plethora of design elements, such as stripes, fringe, and animal prints. Despite their size, guest rooms are equipped with the requisite modern amenities, including air conditioning, wireless Internet, and cable/satellite television. Breakfast is served in the lounge and the guest rooms.
Dedicated to the history of Paris, the Musée Carnavalet has the bed where Marcel Proust wrote À la Recherché du Temps Perdu and re-creations of rooms from various periods.