The Marais is one of the most seductive districts of Paris. Having largely escaped the heavy-handed attentions of Baron Haussmann, and unspoiled by modern development, the quartier is full of handsome Renaissance hôtels particuliers, narrow lanes and inviting cafés and restaurants.
There’s a significant, if dwindling, Jewish community here, established in the twelfth century and centred on rue des Rosiers, and with its long-lasting reputation for tolerance of minorities, the area is popular with gay Parisians. Prime streets for wandering are rue des Francs-Bourgeois, lined with fashion and interior design boutiques, rue Vieille-du-Temple and rue des Archives, with their buzzy bars and cafés, and rue Charlot and rue de Poitou in the so-called Haut Marais, home to sleek art galleries and chic young fashion outlets. The Marais’ animated streets and atmospheric old buildings would be reason enough to visit, but the quartier also boasts a high concentration of excellent museums, not least among them the recently revamped Musée Picasso, the Carnavalet history museum, the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme, and the Musée de l’Histoire de France, all set in fine mansions.