A hip and historic district in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements of Paris, the Marais is named after an old area of marshland that was first occupied in the 12th century. Forming a triangle demarcated by the Place de la Bastille, Place de la République and Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, it is now one of the most popular places in the capital, for its architectural treasures and lively atmosphere in equal measure. In this gay-friendly district, there's indeed no shortage of bars and gay clubs, particularly on Rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie. As well as these many bars, cafes, restaurants and other entertainment venues that keep the streets bustling, there are also designer boutiques and contemporary art galleries.
A major centre for Paris' Jewish community, Rue des Rosiers is also one of the busiest shopping areas in the Marais. It's full of fashion boutiques, kosher groceries, falafel restaurants and other places for food-lovers! On 7 Rue des Rosiers, a memorial plaque commemorates the victims of the Goldenberg restaurant attack of 9 August 1982. Further south towards the Seine, on 17 rue Geoffroy-l'Asnier stands the very moving Shoah Memorial, a memorial site and a leading European institution specialising in the history of the Holocaust.
The Marais also boasts a very rich architectural heritage, including a great many mansion houses from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. With the Soubise Mansion, Rohan Mansion, Guénégaud Mansion, Carnavalet Mansion, Saint-Aignan Mansion, Sully Mansion and Lamoignon Mansion, you'll be spoilt for choice when admiring the most beautiful façades in Paris!
There are also plenty of museums, with a varied range to choose from: the National Picasso Museum-Paris at the Salé Mansion, the Museum of Hunting and Nature at the Guénégaud and Mongelas Mansions, the Carnavalet Museum about the history of the French capital, the Cognacq-Jay Museum and its collection of 18th-century art, the Museum of Jewish Art and History at the Saint-Aignan Mansion, the Museum of National Archives at the Soubise Mansion, or the Magic and Automata Museum, there's something to make every visitor happy.
The tour of the Marais' countless attractions continues with the unmissable Place des Vosges, a listed Historic Monument with charming arcades. To the north of the district, you can also stroll around the Carreau du Temple, a top cultural and artistic destination, and along the pleasant streets of Rue de Bretagne and Rue Vieille-du-Temple, which have a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants. And if you like vintage or unusual objects, the village Saint-Paul between the Seine and Rue Saint-Antoine will delight you with its charming side streets and little inner courtyards dotted with antique shops and designer boutiques.
After a visit to the churches of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis, in the Jesuit style, and Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais, in the Gothic and Classical style, a trip to the picturesque Rue des Barres, the pretty Place du Marché-Sainte-Catherine or the elegant Sens Mansion with its beautiful French-style garden is sure to win you over conclusively!