Some of the best things to do in Le Marais — which includes parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements — are actually free. And, of course, some are not. I stayed in this neighborhood on my recent visit to Paris so I had the chance to explore it a bit. However, I didn’t get to do all that I wanted in Le Marais because I wanted to experience some other spots in Paris such as my favorite museum — Musée d’Orsay — and the Pantheon (which I love!). I know I missed some treasures of this beautiful district. But I want to share with you some of my favorite places in Le Marais as well as a few of the things I missed — and will definitely get to on my next visit to Paris. You know the routine. Let’s start with the where.
This Parisian neighborhood spreads across parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements on the Right Bank. Le Marais actually means “the marsh” which it was at one time. It was during the mid 1200’s that this area began to grow. Religious buildings were built here then the royal folks followed creating palaces and mansions. It was quite the fashionable neighborhood through the mid-1700’s. Then the French Revolution happened.
And Le Marais began to decline. But the Jewish people of Paris moved in and made into a bustling commercial center up until WWII. Well, we know what happened during WWII. After the war, Le Marais became a working class district. But in the mid-1960’s the French government decided that the buildings needed to be protected as there are some gorgeous ones here. So this wonderful piece of Paris began its rise to being hip, trendy and fashionable again.
Visiting Place des Vosges is definitely one of the best things to do in Le Marais. And it was at the top of my list for my stay in this trendy neighborhood. I’m always a fan of parks as they are great for people watching! No place is better for seeing locals go about their daily lives. What I didn’t realize — until I got there on a chilly Saturday afternoon — is that it was originally Place Royale and is the oldest planned square. Buildings surround the park itself. It was all built by Henri IV from 1605 to 1612. The intriguing aspect to these buildings is that the fronts of the houses were all built to the same design. This was new to the era. I really love this park and the buildings. I would love to return when the flowers are in bloom and I could sit with a baguette and some cheese!
The Picasso Museum was not on my list because his art is not really my thing. But for Picasso fans, a visit to Pablo’s museum is one of the best things to do in Le Marais. Located at 5 Rue de Thorigny, the Picasso Museum sits about at the center of this neighborhood. And the museum is not far from where the artist lived and worked. The museum opened in 1975 and has been updated with it officially being inaugurated in 1985. There are loads of works by Picasso — paintings, sculptures, prints and engravings — as well as works by other artists that he collected.