Two Fulfilling Days in Paris' Le Marais
Daniel P. Fletcher
Arts & Culture
I have travelled to Paris over twenty times and on each visit I am drawn back to Le Marais. The pace seems a tad slower here. It is an area where you stroll more than walk and the French have a word for it: flañeur. As you explore the area you will be in awe at the incredible 17th century architecture nestled between squares and green spaces. The area is not fussy or pretentious, but you’ll find some exceptional local eateries and bars and a number of wonderful local boutiques. Vive Le Marais!
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Where to stay
Le Pavillon de la Reine
Sophisticated hotel with contemporary, mosaic-tiled rooms and suites, located in one of Paris' oldest neighborhoods.
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Hôtel National Des Arts et Métiers
A beautifully restored hotel in one of Paris' most hip neighborhoods.
A 24-room gem in the Marais, housed in a charming historic building with all modern accents and comforts.
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Day 1: Exploring SoMa (South Marais)
The ultimate starting point for any explorer in the Marias is Place des Vosges – the oldest planned square in Paris. Flanked by seventeenth century French architecture and vaulted walkways, Place is Vosges is located in the heart of Le Marais. Spend some time exploring the galleries and independent boutiques surrounding the pavilion. Tea lovers should visit the flagship store of Dammann Frères where hundreds of varieties of tea are available to taste and buy. It's also the perfect souvenir to take back home.
Stop for brunch under the arches at Carette where, despite the weather, you can enjoy a traditional Parisian fare whilst looking onto the square and enjoying a spot of people watching.
After lunch, it is time for some serious shopping and exploration. Rue des Francs Bourgeois is the central shopping street that branches off to a maze of local and international brands and boutiques. You must visit L'Artisan Parfumeur, a French perfume brand for a fragrance consultation.
And look at that, it’s 5 o’clock (well it is somewhere) and it is time to recharge with a glass of something chilled. La Belle Hortense is an incredible wine-come-book-shop where you can sip on a glass of Saint-Emilion while listening to some French literature readings (who cares if you speak French.)
Time to head back to the hotel to get dressed for dinner. Tonights dress code is effortless, yet chic: à la française.
For dinner we are heading to Chez Janou. This intimate French bistro is popular with locals and visitors alike. It offers Provençal-style cuisine and eighty flavors of pastis, a local French aperitif. Spoiler alert: the menus are all en français, so for those who don’t speak the language, Google Translate is a must. For me, I live to start with the Tuna Carpaccio with honey, then the duck and finish with chocolate mousse. Tout Délicieux!
Day 2: Relaxing in Paris
If your hips and feet aren’t still hurting from all the exploration yesterday, you didn’t cover enough ground. So, we will start today with some rest and relaxation.
After breakfast, walk or take the metro to Les Bains du Marais. Here, relax in the sauna and hammam and recharge those batteries. Prices start from €40, but why not add in a body scrub for an extra €30. Word of warning: swimsuits are not permitted in the sauna or hammam.
When you are ready to go again, head upstairs to the Pillates Restaurant and enjoy a light lunch and healthy juice.
Time for some modern art and culture in what I feel is the ugliest building in Paris: Le Centre Pompidou. Check out what exhibits are on and spend a few hours getting lost in the many rooms and floors.
And once again, it is cocktail hour. This afternoon walkover to Bisou and whilst en route, check out Les Jardins des Archives Nationales. At Bisou (which means kiss in French,) every cocktail is inspired by the season and available ingredients. There is no menu. Instead, speak to the mixologist about your likes and dislikes and he will create the perfect cocktail for you.
And what better way to celebrate your final night in Paris than having a traditional… Italian dinner? Oh yes – tonight for dinner head to Le Petit Italien. Don’t be fooled or concerned. While tonight we are eating pasta and drinking Campari, you’ll be in a beautiful French setting. This restaurant is a gem, but once again, menus are only in the local tongue. To start, I’d have the burrata followed by the filet de bœuf.
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