Whenever I am in Paris, I tend to rush in order to see my family and friends. I rarely take the time to just stroll and appreciate my beautiful city. However, I have recently taken the time to go out there and get more familiar. On a late Saturday morning, I met with my younger sister and what was supposed to be just a brunch ended up being a nice walking tour in one of Paris’ hippest district, Le Marais. Its cobbled streets and medieval architecture combined with small boutiques, vintage shops and bars make this district a popular place among locals and tourists.
- 1 Walking tour in Le Marais
- 2 Marché des Enfants Rouges
- 3 Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione
- 4 Street art in Le Marais
- 5 Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris
- 6 Ile St-Louis
- 7 Bassin de l’Arsenal / Port de l’Arsenal
- 8 Hotel de Ville
- 9 Louvre Museum
- 10 Centre Pompidou / Beaubourg
- 11 Need a break from sightseeing?
Walking tour in Le Marais
Our self walking tour of Paris in Le Marais wasn’t planned, but since a nice Spring day, we just strolled idly while observing and taking in the most enjoyable sights. Paris is beautiful in spring, especially when the sun finally starts to shine and the terraces start getting packed.
Le Marais is one of the oldest parts of Paris and home to a diverse range of communities. The Jewish community has been in the area for a long time establishing themselves in the clothing market. In fact, Rue Sentier is the birthplace of hip clothing brands like Comptoir des Cotonniers, Sandro or Maje. As well as the Jewish community, artists have long lived in the area too. The many art galleries are a testament to their presence. Last but not least, the LGBT community with its many bars and clubs make Le Marais a great place for entertainment.
- Le Marais is known for its uneven cobbled streets so I recommend you wear comfortable shoes
- Google Maps: please ensure that you have downloaded Paris so you can use it offline or printed out of the map above
- Always have some cash with you because most of the shops have a minimum spend on cards
Marché des Enfants Rouges
This market is not your typical Parisian market. Even though you can buy the normal fresh fruits and vegetables, the main reason people flowed this market is for its friendly and convivial atmosphere. The oldest covered food market in Paris is popular with locals and tourists alike due to its diversity. Wandering through the busy stalls is a feast for the taste buds with the various cuisines on offer (Morocco, Lebanon, Italy, Japan, West Indies and Belgium).
Marché des Enfants Rouges – 39 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione
The Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione, located close to the station Filles du Calvaire, has been built in 1852. The circus belongs since the 1930s to the Bouglione family and presents every winter a show. Head there for a magical night full of clowns, animals, acrobats and so on.
Le Cirque d’hiver Bouglione, 110 Rue Amelot, 75011 Paris
Street art in Le Marais
I love walking in Le Marais because the area is full of street arts. As you walk, pay extra attention to the walls, you will be amazed by the murals. If street art is not your thing, you can just skip it and focus on the sights around you.
Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris
The cathedral Notre-Dame, located in Ile de a Cité, is a famous landmark that most tourists have on their itinerary. People stop here to admire the beautiful Gothic architecture and stunning stained glass work. Since the entrance is free, it can be really busy most days but if you happen to be there on a quiet day, it’s really worth checking out the stained glass windows and climbing to see the magnificent view (€8.50).
Update: Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral is undergoing massive repair work after a fire that consumed its roof and spire on April 15 2019. The site is therefore closed to the public.
Notre-Dame de Paris – 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris
After a quick snapshot of Notre Dame, we headed over to Ile St-Louis for a nice little stroll. The island is a very relaxing place where Parisians like to meet at the end of the day or during the weekend to take a stroll, relax, have a drink or enjoy a picnic with friends. It’s definitely quieter than Ile de la Cité.
Bassin de l’Arsenal / Port de l’Arsenal
The port of Arsenal connects the Canal Saint-Martin to the Seine, between the Quai de la Rapée and Place de la Bastille and near the Ile Saint-Louis. This port built in the 19th century is just like a seaside harbour. You can sit back and watch the boats come ago and imagine yourself in a seaside resort. Its location makes it an ideal place for a hassle-free afternoon. With everything you need from seafood restaurants to cafes, the “Bassin de l’Arsenal” is a quieter and less touristy alternative to the Seine river banks. If you travel during spring, you will surely enjoy the garden with its pergolas covered with roses, honeysuckle and clematis. The entire garden is surrounded by climbing trees, maple trees and weeping willows.
Bassin de l’Arsenal – Boulevard Bourdon – Boulevard de la Bastille – 75004 / 75012 Paris
Hotel de Ville
The city hall is an impressive building with a neo-renaissance style that sits near the Seine River. Guided tours to the city hall are offered by reservation only. You can discover the function room (replica of Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors). The place used to be a location of execution but now people like to gather outside to enjoy a live music performance (summer), ride on the carousel or just hang out.
Hôtel de Ville – Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris
Le Louvre Museum doesn’t need an introduction. The most visited museum in Europe is in every tourist’s list of places to visit in Paris. Whether you have time to explore the museum or see how “imposing” Mona Lisa really is. Wander around the pyramid and then sit on one of the benches to watch tourists walk past each other as they enter and leave the museum, with their eyes in their guides and ready to snap the perfect picture.
The Louvre – Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Centre Pompidou / Beaubourg
The Centre Pompidou or simply called Beaubourg is one of my favourite museums in Paris. This amazing piece of architecture is home to the National Museum of Modern Art. It offers great exhibitions. Also the square opposite the museum always offers street performers and arts.
Centre Pompidou – Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris
Need a break from sightseeing?
I have listed below a selection of cafes and small eateries to satisfy your cravings.
Ada and Anna – Is a cute little cafe with an even cuter design. The menu is simple with an Asian influence, think gua bao, big bowls of salmon salad, homemade cakes. If you seat by the window, you will have a nice view of the Church of Saint-Séverin. – 23 Rue Saint-Jacques, 75005 Paris
L’As du Falafel – because you can’t venture in Le Marais without stopping by this falafel shop (of course if the queue isn’t too huge). – 32 Rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris
La Mangerie – this restaurant with a quirky decor is lively and very popular. They offer a variety of delicious tapas. – 7 rue de Jarente, 75004 Paris
Neobento – I love Japanese food and this store as a good offering. – 5 rue des Filles du Calvaire, 75003 Paris
La Mezcaleria – La Mezcaleria is a Mexican style clandestine bar hidden behind the kitchen of Hotel 1K’s Peruvian restaurant. I won’t tell you more because you need to see it for yourself. – 13 Boulevard du Temple, 75003 Paris