things to do in marais Paris

9 Must Do Things to See & Do in the Marais in Paris

If you’re visiting Paris, Le Marais is a must visit and there are some amazing things to do and see. Read on to discover our insider guide on the main things to see and do in the historical Marais district.

The Best Things to See and Do in Le Marais

The Marais (meaning ‘The Marsh’in English) is one of the city’s oldest and most preserved historical areas. It’s an eclectic, vibrant, diverse district full of history and culture. The Marais is located on the right bank of the city in the 3rd and 4th arrondissement. Historically the old Jewish quartier, the area has transformed over the years and has become extremely popular with tourists. Whilst there are still many kosher restaurants and boulangeries, the area is now filled with galleries, gay bars and designer boutiques. There is plenty to do see and our guide has ideas for you to plan your visit (from someone who actually lives in Paris!).

Smalls streets in the marais

Relax in the Place des Vosges

One of the most recognisable parts of the Marais is the historical Place des Vosges. The place, or square in English, is the oldest square in the city and dates back to 1605. Built by Henry IV, it took 7 years to complete and became the trendiest area to live for Parisian nobility. There are plenty of famous figures who’ve lived in the hôtels above the lower arcades including Victor Hugo and Cardinal Richelieu.

The centre of the 140m x 140m square is a large park with fountains and bouquets of trees. It’s a popular spot for locals to take apéro and picnics during weekends. The surrounding arcades have plenty of cafés, bistros, art galleries and shops. It’s a lovely spot to relax and people watch with a glass of wine after a long day of sightseeing!

Try some incredible Falafel

Falafel might not be the first port of call on your culinary tour around Paris but it’s definitely something I’d recommend as a quick, cheap lunch when in the Marais. To get a tasty, vegetarian falafel sandwich, head to the famous Rue des Rosiers north of Place des Vosges. The west end of the narrow street is where you’ll find a myriad of Israeli style falafel shops. Check out our in-depth guide on the best falafel in Paris to learn more. Generally you’ll find take away falafel sandwiches with veg & sauce for around €6-7.

Falafel marais

Visit the Musée National Picasso

Just up from Rue des Rosiers on rue de Thorigny lies the Musée Picasso in the Hôtel Salé. The art gallery celebrates the work of Pablo Picasso and features of 5,000 pieces of art. There are also many of his personal items including photographs and hand written letters. After the artists death, his family donated a huge part of his collection to the museum as Picasso had lived in France for over 60 years. The museum isn’t huge but expect to spend around 1.5 hours there if you take your time.

Musee Picasso paris

Discover the Marché des Enfants Rouges

Moving up to the Northern edge of the Marais on rue de Bretagne, is the amazing Marché des Enfants Rouges. It’s the oldest covered market in Paris dating back to 1524 where it was originally an orphanage (hence the name). It was transformed Louis XIII in 1615 and has remained as a market ever since. It’s great to visit and take in the sights of a bustling market but also to eat at. There’s plenty of restaurants serving up great food from different cuisines including Italian, Moroccan, Caribbean, modern French and Thai.

Learn about the history of Paris at the Musée Carnavalet

One of the lesser known museums in Paris is the incredible Musée Carnavalet. The museum is dedicated to the history of the city from its very origins to modern day. It’s almost worth going for the building itself – a stunning 16th century mansion surrounding a picturesque garden in the centre of its courtyard. Inside there are different rooms covering the medieval, Roman and the tumultuous evolutionary periods. The permanent exhibition is free to visit and the museum is open every day apart form Mondays.

Musee carnavalet Paris

Have a drink on the rooftop of the BHV

If you at some point want a refreshment with view then the BHV rooftop is a great place to get a drink overlooking the Marais. Located on the top of the BHV department store located on the South side of the Marais, Le Perchoir is a relaxed covered bar open during the warmer months. During weekends there’s a DJ playing and on the menu you’ll find craft cocktails, local beer and some great wine.

BHV rooftop marais

Visit the Maison de Victor Hugo

The Maison de Victor Huge is a museum dedicated to the famous French writer and politician. Located in his former house on the Place des Vosges on the South East of the square, the museum is free to enter and is open daily. The 280m2 museum is on the smaller side so expect a quick visit. You can see the stunning original bedrooms, kitchen and dining room of the era.

maison de Victor Hugo paris

Have a coffee at Fringe

At the North side of the Marais lies Fringe – a really good speciality coffee shop. I’ve heard many a tourist complain about the poor level of coffee in Paris but you’ll get a good cup here. Latte, flat white or filter they make some seriously good cups of coffee. If you’re feeling hungry they’ve also got some great patisseries and cookies to go with your hot drink.

Visit the Hotel de Ville

In my opinion the Hotel de Ville is one of the most underrated monuments in Paris and is definitely worth a visit. Right next to the River Seine on the Place de l’Hotel de Ville – Esplanade de la Liberation, the city hall is the HQ of the local government council. The original part of the building dates back to 1357 where Étienne Marcel, the mayor of Paris, bought the site and use the location to house his administration. Numerous wings have been built and rebuilt across the turbulent years of its existence and contain some stunning works of art and murals.

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