Paris is full of scenes that will ignite your inner romantic and cause you to wander from rue to rue soaking in every corner of the City of Lights. Even on its dreariest days, Paris is a sight for sore eyes, and the sights of the Marais are arguably the most memorable. Known for beaucoup reasons, the Marais is the city’s most famous Jewish neighborhood, the center of the city’s gay community, a shopping destination and home to stylish hotels and in-vogue cafés. A diverse history meets fashionable modernity in the Marais.
When I visited in late December, the holiday spirit was lingering and no one seemed to mind the dropping temperatures and constant drizzle of rain. Split between the 4e arrondissement and the 3e arrondissement, the Marais is an in-demand spot for locals and tourists alike. Being the latter, but attempting to pass as the former, we set out to see each nook and cranny of the Marais.
Breakfast at Breizh Café
Even on a gloomy day in Paris, Parisians can be found on the sidewalks outside cafés. As we embraced our inner Parisian, we did as the locals do and chose to dine at Breizh Café as praise for the crêpes can be heard around the world. The crêperie opens at 11:30 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on the weekends. If you don’t have a reservation, we suggest going early to get your spot in line. If you prefer sweet, try a crêpe. If you prefer savory, try a galette.
A visit to the Musée Picasso
Paintings, drawings and sculptures showcase the breadth of Picasso’s career and give a glimpse into the mind of the artist. Holding the world’s largest public collection of Picasso’s works, Musée Picasso is a treat for the eyes and the mind. In addition to his own works, the museum houses pieces by Matisse, Degas and Rousseau, which were part of Picasso’s personal collection. Explore how Picasso’s art changed over time, and let yourself get lost in the colors and shapes he created.
A stroll through Marché des Enfants Rouges
The oldest covered market in Paris, Marché des Enfants Rouges is ideal for shoppers looking to take home fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers, and diners looking to sit down for lunch or dinner. The market is lively during peak dining hours and on weekends. We suggest strolling through later in the afternoon to take in everything it has to offer. And while the fresh produce is worth taking home, you’d be remiss to overlook the eateries. So, settle in for a late snack.
Lunch at Le Sancerre
Not taking the advice mentioned above, we were unable to secure a spot at a Marché des Enfants Rouges restaurant. But thankfully, our mistake earned us oysters, carpaccio and wine at Le Sancerre. The small bistro offers traditional French cuisine, including a hamburger that has earned them fame. We opted for the oysters and chardonnay special, with a side of carpaccio de boeuf.
After lunch, we strolled the small alleyways knowing we would discover some things of interest. We found ourselves zig-zagging the streets, popping into stores that ranged in price and product. Well-known destinations such as Sandro and Maje caught our attention, as did high-end labels such as Isbel Marant and Azzedine Alaïa. Discount designer stores and vintage boutiques add interest to the mix. When energy began to run low, we stopped into Fromagerie Jouannault for a late afternoon snack to be enjoyed in the comfort of the hotel.
Drinks & Dinner
Our night out in the Marais started with drinks at Mary Celeste. We found our spot at the hexagonal bar of more than 20 seats and settled in with a few cocktails. The plats du jour caught our eye, but we opted to head to Mary Celeste’s sister bar, Candelaria for dinner — and more drinks. Candelaria opens to an authentic Mexican taqueria with one small table and a short menu of tacos. With tacos as fuel, we made our way past the restaurant and through the secret entrance to the cocktail bar. In a cave-like setting, we sipped on mojitos (recommended by another bar-goer). After cocktails and conversation at Candelaria, we rounded the block to check out Little Red Door. After waiting in line with other cocktail lovers (and a friendly Irishman bouncer), eager to see what the hype was about, we were lead inside and given cocktail menus that not only celebrate craft cocktails but movements in architectural design. Each drink has a short list of ingredients that don’t seem all that impressive until mixed together and served in a style that reflects its name (art deco, minimalism, cubism).
Stay at La Chambre du Marais
After the evening’s festivities, we hung our hats at La Chambre du Marais. We were lucky to call this spot home. A comfortable setting for any duo, La Chambre du Marais boasts stylish design, and each room is unique as well. If you are lucky, your room will overlook Rue des Archives. The interiors were lovely enough to covet in our own home, but the central location of the hotel is the number one reason to return.
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