A Guide to Le Marais, Paris

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



Just steps from the Hotel Pavillon de la Reine is the stunning and ornate 200 year old Victor Hugo Museum, which houses where the author of the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables lived, wrote, and died.

A Guide to Le Marais, Paris

One of many charming alleys

As you exit the wonderfully-designed Museum and start to stroll the streets of this part of the City, you will notice something very odd: that, unlike the rest of Paris with its oversized large roads and grand buildings, the sidewalks in this district are narrow; the streets are humble; and its “feel” is not modern Parisian per se. Instead, you’ll walk and walk and get lost on every street corner, wanting to explore every little neighborhood’s fun and peculiar mysteries. You’ll notice that this is the classic Paris that so many fall in love with.


A Guide to Le Marais, Paris

The gorgeous architecture in Paris never ceases to amaze


As you continue to glide through the 4th, you’ll see the best examples of Baroque architecture, a sophisticated throwback to France’s once prominent aristocracy who called Le Marais home. And, by the way, this is why they call the 4th the prettiest part of Paris, which is the prettiest city in the world: the architecture here is made with love and class and sass. Some real head-turners. These buildings are homes, museums of magic, and even former castles whose grand entrances are overlooked by ghoulish gargoyles (some of which are rumored to be haunted).

If you enter any of them, you’ll see deliciously dangerous exposed beams, crooked staircases only a supermodel could fit through, and portes cocheres (entrances to secret courtyards and gardens). You’ll even notice an homage to one of Le Marais’s former fortresses, the famed Bastille Castle that caused the French Revolution. You’ll keep thinking to yourself, it’s so amazing how the beauty of architecture can often mask and hide a chillingly haunted past–and keep secrets maintained for centuries.

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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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