The Best Things to Do in Le Marais, Paris

Craving an authentic Parisian experience? There's no better place than Le Marais to lose yourself in the city's simple pleasures.

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Things to do in Le Marais, ParisPhoto: Shutterstock

Le Marais, Paris: An Insider's Guide

Montmartre has Sacré-Coeur and St-Germain-des-Prés has the Musée d'Orsay, but when it comes to experiencing Paris like a local, nothing beats Le Marais. True, it might not have the flashy tourist attractions of neighbouring quartiers, but Le Marais delivers an authentic slice of Parisian life that's increasingly rare—and always rewarding, whether it's your first or fifth time exploring the City of Lights.

Le Marais, which translates as “the marsh” owing to its swamp-like conditions in medieval times, became the Jewish quarter in the 13th century and then the hub for Paris' LGBTQ community in the 1980s. Today, this district encompassing the 3rd and 4th arrondisements is somehow both the quaintest and most spirited in the city, and certainly the best place to indulge in the simple pleasures of Paris. You can easily spend days walking up and down Le Marais' narrow cobblestoned streets, popping into petite boutiques, chic galleries and bustling cafés. Its central location means that many of Paris' most iconic attractions are within walking distance, and even sites that are further afield, like the Eiffel Tower, are easily accessible through the efficient and easy-to-navigate metro system. There's frankly no better 'hood to serve as your home base.

To make the most of every minute of your travels, here are our picks for the best things to do in Le Marais.

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Le Marais Paris - VRBO apartment rentalPhoto: VRBO

The best place to stay in Le Marais, Paris:

VRBO

Forget generic hotels. If it's the authentic Parisian experience you're after, then only authentic Parisian accommodations will do. Booking an apartment in Le Marais through VRBO truly gives you the opportunity to live like a local, from the experience of cooking the odd meal to immersing yourself in some of the city's oldest surviving architecture.

When 19th century urban planners razed much of medieval Paris to make way for more orderly streets, Le Marais emerged relatively unscathed. As a result, historic rental properties abound, often boasting charming design details like exposed beams and chevron-patterned wood flooring—but updated with all the mod cons to make your stay truly comfortable.

To stretch your travel dollar to the fullest, we recommend focusing your vacation rental search in the oft-overlooked Arts et Métiers-Temple district. In this relatively quiet corner of Le Marais, you'll find a huge selection of historic apartments like this chic, sunny Le Marais home, at a fraction of the price of a hotel room. Situated on the top floor of a four-floor walk-up, this window-filled flat is light, bright and airy, and comes complete with washer and dryer—a huge perk if you plan on packing light. The large open-space kitchen is another way to trim a few euros from your expenses: simply grab breakfast supplies from a nearby grocer and enjoy a home-cooked petit déjeuner before setting out to explore.

The prime location makes it as an ideal jumping-off point for attractions in Le Marais and beyond. The sprawling modern art mecca that is the Centre Pompidou is a mere seven minute walk from the flat, and you can even reach both the Louvre and Notre-Dame by foot in 20 minutes.

Got any questions about living your best Le Marais life? Don't hesitate to tap the invaluable resource that is your VRBO host. Hosts often have an encyclopedic knowledge of the neighbourhood, and can advise on the best places to pick up everything from macarons to Merlot.

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Le Marais Paris - Une Glace à ParisPhoto: Une Glace à Paris

The best ice cream in Le Marais, Paris:

Une Glace á Paris

If there’s one thing Le Marais isn't lacking, it’s sweet treats—particularly of the frozen variety. Standing out in the crowd of ice cream and sorbet shops is Une Glace à Paris, which has been a popular dessert destination for Parisians and travellers alike since 2015. Founders Emmanuel Ryon and Olivier Menard have drawn upon their impressive pastry backgrounds in formulating imaginative flavour pairings with a distinctly French flair. Our go-to: Smoked vanilla and mille-feuille (an iconic custard-filled French pastry). There's simply no better snack to have in your hand while exploring the streets of Le Marais.

15 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, Le Marais, Paris 75004

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Le Marais Paris - Place des VosgesPhoto: Shutterstock

The best place for a picnic in Le Marais, Paris:

Place des Vosges

Paris is packed with idyllic picnic spots, including several that boast picture-postcard views of the Eiffel Tower, but our vote for best in Le Marais goes to Place des Vosges. Often referred to as the "Crown Jewel" of Le Marais, Place des Vosges is a stunning park, split by pathways into quadrants and surrounded by magnificent buildings housing charming shops and cafés. Originally commissioned by King Henri IV in the early 17th century, it became Paris's first public square a century later. Nowadays, the park serves as a peaceful refuge amidst the bustling streets of Le Marais. Take a cue from the residents and pack a picnic lunch of cheese, charcuterie and a baguette. Feel free to toss in a bottle of wine, as well: Open-air drinking before 4 p.m. is fair game throughout Paris.

Place des Vosges, Le Marais, Paris 75004

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Le Marais Paris - Breizh Cafe crepePhoto: Breizh Café

The best crêperie in Le Marais, Paris:

Breizh Café

Serving up both dessert-style crêpes (sweet) and galettes (savory), this world-class crêperie is renowned for blending traditional French techniques with Japanese ingredients such as ginger and yuzu. The buckwheat galettes are always perfectly cooked,  with crispy, lacy edges and filled with organic ingredients that range from conventional fare (complète: ham, cheese and egg) to more exotic versions (smoked herring and potatoes). This hotspot is always hopping, so to make the most of your time in Le Marais, it's best to book a table in advance.

109 Rue Vieille du Temple, Le Maris, Paris 75003

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Le Marais Paris - Musée Picasso, Hotel SalePhoto: Musée Picasso

The best museum in Le Marais, Paris:

Musée Picasso

While there are other museums in Paris devoted entirely to the works of a single artist, the Musée Picasso in Le Marais is the best. As the world's largest collection of the works of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), the Musée Picasso traces the avant-garde artist's creative journey through paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures. Just as impressive as the museum's contents is its setting: formerly a private mansion, the stunning Hotel Salé is a gem of 17th-century architecture.

5 Rue de Thorigny, Le Marais, Paris 75003

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Le Marais Paris - L'as du FallafelPhoto: Instagram.com/lasdufallafel

The best street food in Le Marais, Paris:

L'as du Fallafel

Even if the exchange on the euro is putting a strain on your purse strings, there's no excuse for eating from a fast food chain in Paris. Truth be told, you'd be hard-pressed to find a cheaper—and more mouthwatering—meal than at L'as du Fallafel. Situated on Rue des Rosiers, an historic street that’s home to a variety of Jewish restaurants as well as both high-end and vintage clothing stores, L'as du Fallafel serves up a falafel sandwich so good you’ll turn vegetarian (well, for one meal at least). Six euros will get you a large pita filled to the brim with falafels (perfectly crispy on the outside yet fluffy on the inside), hummus, pickled cabbage, cucumbers and the most delicious fried eggplant. There's truth to the adage that the best places to eat are always the busiest, but don't worry—the line moves fast, and the falafel is worth every second of the wait.

32-34 Rue des Rosiers, Le Marais, Paris 75004

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Le Marais Paris - La Candelaria speakeasyPhoto: worldsbestbars.com

The best speakeasy in Le Marais, Paris:

La Candelaria

With every street in Le Marais peppered with cafés, brasseries and rooftop bars, there's no shortage of watering holes. If you’re seeking a hidden gem that's quite literally hidden, however—a spot that's so secretive it's barely on the radar of the locals—an old-school speakeasy is where it’s at. La Candelaria lies through an anonymous door at the rear of a lively Mexican Taqueria on Rue de Saintonge. Beyond, you'll find a dimly-lit cocktail bar staffed by master mixologists, who thrive on creating bespoke cocktails off the cuff. If you prefer to order off the menu, make it the Guêpe Verte (green wasp) or Saintonge Spritz—a tasty blend of tequila, lime, pepper, cucumber, spices and agave syrup. Bet you can't have just one.

52 Rue de Saintonge, Le Marais, Paris 75003

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Le Marais Paris - Saint Paul Flea MarketPhoto: Shutterstock

The best flea market in Le Marais, Paris:

Le Village Saint-Paul

Paris is home to several world-renowned flea markets—Puces de Vanves and Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen among the most famous—but only one takes you on a journey through time. Nestled between the Seine and Place des Vosges is Le Village Saint-Paul, a haven of antique stores and artisan boutiques, where you'll find relics and treasures ranging from medieval to mid-century modern. Come summer, the storefronts spill out into the connecting courtyard and covered passageways. As with any respectable flea market, haggling is expected and most items are priced with the expectation that they’ll be bargained down.

Rue Saint-Paul, Le Marais, Paris 75004

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Le Marais Paris - Le Perchoir MaraisPhoto: bonjourparis.com

The best rooftop bar in Le Marais, Paris:

Le Perchoir Marais

A cocktail always tastes *that* much better when you're perched amongst the rooftops of Paris. Situated above the BHV department store on Rue de la Verrerie, Le Perchoir Marais ranks as one of the best rooftop bars in Paris. Specializing in champagne and traditional-with-a-twist cocktails, the bustling bar's impressive menu is more than matched by its spectacular views of the Panthéon and Eiffel Tower, not to mention the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) directly across the street. Don't let the alfresco setting keep you from visiting in the off-season, either: there are plenty of blankets and patio heaters to keep guests warm and toasty year-round.

37 Rue de la Verrerie, Le Marais, Paris 75004

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Le Marais Paris - Merci boutiquePhoto: Merci

The best shopping in Le Marais, Paris:

Merci

In the heart of Le Marais' historic Haut-Marais district, this super-trendy boutique, with a quirky Fiat 500 permanently parked in its flower-filled courtyard, is a must-see. The spacious multi-level store offers a dazzling assortment of fashion, design, and decorative objets for the home. If you're seeking a practical souvenir, you can't go wrong with Merci's bed linens, which come in every colour imaginable. On the other hand, it's just as enjoyable to window-shop, or as the French call it, lèche-vitrine—the literal translation is "window licking!"

111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, Le Marais, Paris 75003

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Le Marais Paris - Auberge Nicolas FlamelPhoto: Guilhem Vellut/CC-BY

The most fascinating building in Le Marais, Paris:

Auberge Nicolas Flamel

If the name of this fine dining establishment sounds strangely familiar, it's probably down to Harry Potter. Yes, you read that correctly. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, author J.K. Rowling blurs fact and fiction by incorporating a character called Nicolas Flamel—an alchemist who attempts to achieve immortality through the titular stone. It turns out Flamel was real, and he lived in this very house until his death in the early 15th century. Potter connection aside, the house maintains two significant claims to fame that make it worth adding to any Le Marais itinerary. First, it's a superb restaurant specializing in traditional French fare. Second, it dates back to 1407, making it the oldest building in all of Paris. Fascinating architectural flourishes include intricate carvings flanking the front door, and French script running along the lintel.

51 rue de Montmorency, Le Marais, Paris 75003

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