Paris’s network of arrondissements, or districts, offer a variety of different settings to take in the City of Light’s cafe-lined charm on a trip to Paris. One of our favorite neighborhoods? Le Marais. Located on the Right Bank of the Seine, spreading across parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, this chic area is home to some of the city’s best boutiques, cocktail bars, and restaurants. Here’s what to do during a free day in Le Marais.
Stroll through the Place des Vosges
The oldest planned square in Paris, the Place des Vosges has a royal history. Built by Henri IV in 1612 and home to notable residents throughout the centuries, including Victor Hugo, today the site is a park in the heart of Le Marais. An arcade of restaurants and small galleries wrap around the park, which is lined with manicured trees and curlicue lampposts, making it a great spot for an easy walk or an afternoon coffee. After strolling the square, head to the western edge of the arcade and you’ll find an inconspicuous entrance into the picturesque Hôtel de Sully gardens.
Visit the Picasso Museum
The Spanish artist spent much of his adult life in France and came of age during what was arguably the heyday of Paris’s art scene in the 1920s. Relatively small in scale compared to Parisian greats like the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, the Picasso Museum is located in a former mansion and is filled with over 5,000 works by Picasso. It also holds a number of pieces of his personal collections from the likes of Matisse and Cézanne.
Browse produce at the Bastille Market
On the edge of the neighborhood, you’ll find the Bastille, which houses a huge farmers’ market on Thursdays and Sundays. Stop by early for a snack of fresh produce and cheese, to scour the fishermen’s fresh haul, or to simply get a glimpse at how locals shop for their weekly groceries.
You can find crêperies all over the city, but La Droguerie is one of the best. Sit down inside for a drink and a savory crêpe, or walk up to the ordering window on the charming blue facade and pick up something delicious to go. Our recommendation? A banana Nutella crêpe.
Open up any guidebook and you’ll see that Le Marais is known for falafel. L’as du Fallafel is the most famous outpost for the chickpea-packed snack—and for good reason. The eatery is authentic and delicious, but be aware that long lines form throughout the day.
Jewish baked goods
The Jewish influences can be seen (and tasted) as you walk around Le Marais. The best street to sample something authentic is Rue des Rosiers, where you’ll find a number of Jewish bakeries and delis serving up breads, sandwiches, pastries, cookies, and more. Looking for a suggestion? Seek out some poppy seed strudel.
In Paris, you’ll find an endless amount of cute cafes and bistros where locals gather outside for afternoon drinks year round (thanks to toasty heaters in the winter). But if you’re interested in straying away from the classic house red at a sidewalk cafe, duck into a Marais cocktail bar. The neighborhood’s cocktail scene is a major draw, with lots of small boutique bars offering up inventive menus and thoughtfully decorated settings. Le Mary Celeste, Poulette, and the speakeasy Candelaria are all great options—their unique settings are just as much part of the appeal as the cocktails. Check out this post for more Paris restaurant recommendations.
Moor floral shop
What looks like a small flower shop on a somewhat nondescript street opens up into a treasure trove of curious finds. Beyond the flowers, plants, and succulents at Moor, you’ll find a smattering of truly interesting souvenirs, from glittering ornaments and mercury-glass vases to antique candlestick holders and taxidermy birds.
Merci concept shop
Part store, part café, part experience, Merci is separated from the main street by a small walkway that opens out onto a picturesque courtyard—complete with a photo-ready red Fiat—and an old mansion that houses two floors of clothing and homewares. Inside you’ll find everything from classic fashion and funky light fixtures to retro-inspired stereos and adorable knickknacks you never knew you needed. While they’re pricey (just like the store), the three accompanying cafes are also worth a stop, especially the Old Book Café where you can browse an old tome over a café au lait.
Rue Vieille du Temple
While Le Marais in general is packed with charming boutiques, Rue Vieille du Temple is a great starting point for shop after shop of independent stores. Spend a few hours strolling by pretty storefronts and poke around shops selling men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, leather goods, perfumes, and more.
Ever spent a day in Le Marais? Tell us your favorite way to pass the time!