Things to see and do - Paris
A Stroll Through The Marais :
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A Stroll Through The Marais
A Stroll Through The MaraisPedestrian, 4 km, 1 day
A dilapidated and disreputable neighbourhood 50 years ago, le Marais is now one of the gems of the French capital. Restored as part of an initiative by the former French Minister of Culture, André Malraux, it’s one of the few Parisian neighbourhoods to have been spared by Baron Haussmann ...Customise this route and add it to My travel book
The Place des Vosges, rue des Francs-Bourgeois, and three mansions in particular, the Hôtel de Soubise, Hôtel Salé and Hôtel de Rohan, take visitors back to the 17C and 18C, the time of the absolute monarchy and the Enlightenment. However, the old streets, tiny squares and aristocratic mansions here are now occupied by designer boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and markets, transforming the Marais into a lively and trendy district.
This vast square, probably conceived by Métezeau, was the wish of Henri IV. When completed in 1612, the Place Royale became the centre of elegant life, with carrousels and pleasure. The square got its present name in 1800 in honour of the département which was first to pay its taxes. The square contains 36 pavilions which have kept their original design: alternating stone and false brick facing, arcaded ground floor, with two upper floors crowned by a steep slate roof with garret windows, a rear-courtyard and hidden gardens... In brief, a setting comparable to the great «plazas mayores» of Castillian towns. The soberly-decorated pavilion of the Queen responds symmetrically to the Pavilion of the King. In the centre of the square, a pleasant public garden is a good place to catch the rays of the sun on a fine day... . Unless you prefer the shade of the arcade where from time to time an improvised classical concert takes place, while the windows of the art galleries, or antique shops charm, shock or astonish the passer by ... some of whom will be in search of the shades of the past that inhabit this square:: Madame de Sévigné was born at No. 1 bis, Théophile Gautier and Alphonse Daudet lived at No. 8, Marion Delorme at No. 11, Bossuet at No. 17, Richelieu at No. . 21 (two duellists paid with their life for the insolence of defending their honour beneath his windows when the Cardinal had just prohibited duels). And of course Victor Hugo!
Carnavalet Mansion and Museum
The name of this street comes from the occupants of almshouses founded here in 1334, who were exempt from tax due to their limited resources and known as "francs-bourgeois". In the courtyard of n° 8, admire the typical haberdasher's shop. A number of mansions are also worthy of note: Hôtel Carnavalet, the 16C Hôtel d'Albret (n° 31), Hôtel de Coulanges (nos 35-37) with its quiet rose garden, Hôtel de Sandreville (n° 26), and Hôtel d'Alméras (n° 30), whose gateway is adorned with a ram's head.
Like the Hôtel de Soubise, this mansion was built by Delamair in 1705. It was the residence of four cardinals from the Rohan family, all of whom were bishops of Strasbourg. Inside, a fine staircase leads to the apartments. Note the Gobelins tapestries in the entrance hall. The first salons are embellished with tapestries from Beauvais. The interior decoration dates from the 1750s. Note also the Gold Salon, the amusing Monkey Room, and the delicate panelling in the smaller bedrooms.
The 17C Hôtel Salé is the setting for this impressive collection of paintings which follows the development of this great master from Málaga in southern Spain via a superb series of sculptures, drawings, engravings and ceramics. The artist's personal collection comprises of around 50 works by painters he admired (Braque, Cézanne, Rousseau etc).
This church, originally dedicated to St Louis, was built from 1627-41 based on a plan inspired by the Gesù church in Rome. It took its present name after the destruction of the nearby Église Saint-Paul in the late 18C. The façade, with its Classical orders of superimposed columns, screens the dome. In the 17C, religious ceremonies took on a theatrical character here. The church's fine furnishings were removed at the Revolution, though it is worth admiring the Mater Dolorosa, a marble sculpture by Germain Pilon.
This small area, stretching between the streets of Jardins-Saint-Paul, Charlemagne, Saint-Paul and Ave-Maria, is filled with inner courtyards around which many antiquarians have set up their premises.