Tuesday, September 29, 2009

12 Days in Paris: Le Marais

Le Marais is a complex warren of narrow winding streets past 17th century houses and ethnic diverse shops, boutiques and restaurants. This is a great walking area, as there are interesting and curious boutiques just about everywhere.

The Marais district is home to the Paris History Museum – Musee Carnavalet – that is located in a pair of buildings dating back to the 16th century. We were drawn into the museum by the wonderful formal gardens in the open courtyard.

The museum is laid out chronologically, to give the visitor a nice timeline of the historical events that shaped this great city. There are a number of scale models of sections of the city that are works of art in their own right.

Along a couple of the halls is a marvelous collection of antique hanging signs. Boy would I like to have some of these!

After some time in the museum, we hustled over to have lunch at L’As du Fallafel (34, rue des Rosiers, 4e). This place was recommended to us by our son and daughter-in-law who spent the Holidays last year in le Marais. Excellent! For a small amount extra you can eat inside and don’t forget to try the sauce picante.

On the way we spotted this lovely flower shop – Au Nom de la Rose. This is part of a chain, but the store is small and the flowers gorgeous. All over Paris we found beautiful flower shops.

Close by was Vertige (11, rue de Sevigne, 4e), an atelier where the owner/artist has created this wonderful, whimsical chandelier.

Near le Marais, we checked out The Collection (33, rue Poitou, 3e), a classy designer atelier with lots of handmade goodies for decorating the home. The hand-made wallpaper was really special. Prices on these start at about 300 euros per 3-meter section!

Scattered about Paris are a number of old covered passageways. These are typically home to interesting ateliers. The Passage du Grand Cerf is near le Marais in the 2nd district.

We found two wonderful shops (among others) that made us stop and peruse the inventory. The first was Le Labo (4, Passage du Grand Cerf, 2e) where the owner, Chantal Rimbert, hand crafts these wonderful little wire people sculptures.

Next door is Cecile Boccara (8, Passage du Grand Cerf, 2e) who makes these beautiful handmade flowers.


Le Marais is super crowded on the weekends, so unless you like crowds, try visiting on weekdays. Remember to check with the stores about hours of operation. The St. Paul Metro staion is pretty well central to most of le Marais.

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