A Guide to Le Marais, Paris

Travel with me to the 4th in Paris, and discover its many secrets…



The renovated Hotel Pavillon de la Reine was architected by a mastermind craftsman 400 years ago, with the same kind of skill and fierce obsession France’s most famous artist, Picasso, was known for. By the way, Picasso created many of his works near this place, so go explore around to get some behind-the-scene stories about this genius.

A Guide to Le Marais, Paris

One of several sculptures in the courtyard at the hotel

The Pavilion itself, though, is just like a work of Picasso’s art, made with diligence and precision. It is covered with ivy. Everywhere. Beautiful ivy jutting in and out of the building, wrapping itself around the delicately laid brickwork as if it was an extra layer of protective skin. I thought, this is what a hotel should be.

A Guide to Le Marais, Paris

Daydreaming of the queens who previously graced this courtyard

But little did I know that this place wasn’t always a hotel. In fact, it was built and named for the Queen of Austria, Anne, France’s King Louis VIII’s mysterious child bride turn powerhouse. What conversations were had here, I wondered? What decisions did this powerful woman make that affected the lives of millions? What secrets did she keep and why? My hubby always told me I was a queen, but now I really felt like it — like a powerful she-hero surrounded by the trappings of nobility.

A Guide to Le Marais, Paris

I savored my time in the hotels lounges; the perfect place for an evening nightcap or morning espresso

A Guide to Le Marais, Paris

Having a midnight nightcap of port from the honor bar in a lounge at the hotel, after a fun night out in Paris

I was staying in the same place that housed one of history’s most fabulous women, an ultra-luxe hideaway known as much for its glam amenities as for its super cozy layout. While there, I came to this inescapable conclusion: that at least once in her life, every modern woman should stay in a palace made for a queen — it will remind you how beautiful, perfect and special you truly are.

A Guide to Le Marais, Paris

The round Hermes-colored key fob, our guides to Paris, French macaroons and my petit Chanel handbag

As if the hotelier’s knew this, I arrived to a suite filled with goodies. How they could have known that my favorite cookie is a French Macaron, I don’t know, but the staff at Hotel Pavillon de la Reine seemed to read my mind throughout our stay.

A Guide to Le Marais, Paris

A delicious breakfast using almond milk and vegan (oil, not butter) croissants, especially for us

Part of what makes this place so unique isn’t just the royal hotel itself, as charming and spectacular as it is. What makes this place special is the DNA that surrounds the hotel as well. And in this case, it is the famed Le Marais district, Paris’s witty and urbane 4th arrondissement nestled between the medieval Place des Vosges and ultra-modern Centre Pompidou, the heart of Paris’s cultural life. In other words, going to the Le Marais is like being simultaneously  immersed in the most fascinating parts of history and the most fun parts of modern life.

A Guide to Le Marais, Paris

The window in the bedroom of our suite looked over the gorgeous courtyard

The Place des Vosges is 1,000 years old, bordered by 36 exquisite buildings, and is structured like a lusciously green city square, having previously been home to Paris’s sports tournaments, parades, and duels (much like the Roman Coliseum, but preserved for its architecture and beauty). It is one of the only pre-world war, pre-revolutionary Medieval regions still standing in Europe. That’s right. It’s a place that has never been destroyed by the hubris or hatred of man.  My great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandma could have lived there. Yours could have, too. Or your friend’s grandma.

A Guide to Le Marais, Paris

The Place de Vosges park, which the Pavillon de la Reine is on, is a fun place to hang out

But the point is, when you visit the Place de Vosges and the Le Marais areas –and you should add them to your must see list, as I promise you it will be one of the best experiences of your life– they will seduce you with history and secrets. Prepare to be teased by breathtaking gothic architecture, avant-garde art, and exclusive local food and shopping, which are all second to none.

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Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 69 Comments

  1. Avatar of ELSA


    Paris is beautiful. The Chinese tourists are not. I don’t know what reason they have for going there but they claimed the city their own. Spitting everywhere, being obnoxious like they own everything. Disgusting.

  2. Avatar of Helena Lowson

    Helena Lowson

    There are plenty of nice streets, great restaurants, amazing stores. All you need is to quit the tourist path and make your own. Paris is full of surprises, just find them!

  3. Avatar of Emily Foulkes

    Emily Foulkes

    Just stayed for a week – bustling, without too many tourists. Great area for walking, cafes, and the like. Interesting museums in the Marais or nearby. Definitely will stay in the area next time.

  4. Avatar of Daisy Clarke

    Daisy Clarke

    I love this hip little area. We stayed in an old art gallery that had been converted to an apartment. There are tons of restaurants around and Centre Pompidou is right there. Lots of little clothing stores.

  5. Avatar of Frances Seifert

    Frances Seifert

    We stayed in a flat in Le Marais on vacation recently. I’ve been to Paris many times and never spent much time in this area. It’s a great location for a base of operations. Away from the noise and the crowds, a neighborhood full of locals.

  6. Avatar of Ayla Pennington

    Ayla Pennington

    Hard to believe you have so much to discover in Paris ! Alone in the Marais, you should see the ‘Place des Vosges’ buily by Henri IV and one of the 8 museums to be found there, as well as fabulous fountains and old 17th century buildings and fabulous roofs and carpentry works with high ceilings…

  7. Avatar of Deborah Henry

    Deborah Henry

    Love it there! If you can’t afford the big names and want to see originality, Le Marais offers a variety of boutiques and stores at a fair value. There are a lot of discounters selling the flavor of yesterday, but dig deeper and find something a little different.

  8. Avatar of Catherine White

    Catherine White

    Let’s be honest – all of Paris, Haussmann re-designing or no, is atmospheric and full of romance. But the Marais, even as it becomes more upscale as it gentrifies, retains an old-fashioned Bohemian quality. Wandering the streets, stopping at a cafe, drinking it all in, that’s where it’s at.

  9. Avatar of Leah Helms

    Leah Helms

    Le Marais helps you adjust your pace and regain a certain calm. It is a meeting with times gone by and it invites you to a tourism, which makes you see, really see and not only though the lens of the camera. 🙂

  10. Avatar of Melissa Princeton

    Melissa Princeton

    We went to le Marais to see some of Paris as it was before the big changes under Napoleon III. Hidden gardens were great but so little else is left and the street is still wide. You get a better idea of it from Avignon or old Lyon, I think.

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