The Marais

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The Hôtel de Saint-Aignan, housing the Museum of Jewish Art and History
Entrance of the Hôtel d'Albret
The Hôtel de Sully's Gardens, near the Place des Vosges
The courtyard of the Hôtel Carnavalet

The Marais (Le Marais French: [lə maʁɛ] (About this soundlisten); "the marsh") is a historic district in Paris, France. Long the aristocratic district of Paris, it hosts many outstanding buildings of historic and architectural importance. It spreads across parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in Paris (on the Rive Droite, or Right Bank, of the Seine). Once shabby, the district has been rehabilitated and now sports trendy shopping and restaurants in streets such as Rue des Francs-Bourgeois and Rue des Rosiers.[1]


Paris aristocratic district[edit]

In 1240, the Order of the Temple built its fortified church just outside the walls of Paris, in the northern part of the Marais. The Temple turned this district into an attractive area, which became known as the Temple Quarter, and many religious institutions were built nearby: the des Blancs-Manteaux, de Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie and des Carmes-Billettes convents, as well as the church of Sainte-Catherine-du-Val-des-Écoliers.

During the mid-13th century, Charles I of Anjou, King of Naples and Sicily, and brother of King Louis IX of France built his residence near the current n°7 rue de Sévigné.[2] In 1361 the King Charles V built a mansion known as the Hôtel Saint-Pol in which the Royal Court settled during his reign as well as his son's.

From that time to the 17th century and especially after the Royal Square (Place Royale, current place des Vosges) was designed under King Henri IV of France in 1605, the Marais was the French nobility's favorite place of residence. French nobles built their urban mansions there—hôtels particuliers, in French—such as the Hôtel de Sens, the Hôtel de Sully, the Hôtel de Beauvais, the Hôtel Carnavalet, the Hôtel de Guénégaud and the Hôtel de Soubise, as well as many other hôtels particuliers, found all over the district.

During the late 18th century, the district was no longer the most fashionable district for the nobility, yet it still kept its reputation of being an aristocratic area. By that time, only minor nobles and a few more powerful nobles, such as the Prince de Soubise, lived there. The Place des Vosges remained a place for nobles to meet. The district fell into despair after the French Revolution, and was therefore abandoned by the nobility completely, and would remain so until the present day.

Jewish community[edit]


After the French Revolution, the district was no longer the aristocratic district it had been during the 17th and 18th centuries. Because of this, the district became a popular and active commercial area, hosting one of Paris' main Jewish communities. At the end of the 19th century and during the first half of the 20th, the district around the rue des Rosiers, referred to as the "Pletzl", welcomed many Eastern European Jews (Ashkenazi) who reinforced the district's clothing specialization. During World War II the Jewish community was targeted by the Nazis who were occupying France. As of today the rue des Rosiers remains a major centre of the Paris Jewish community, which has made a comeback since the 1990s. Public notices announce Jewish events, bookshops specialize in Jewish books, and numerous restaurants and other outlets sell kosher food.


The synagogue on 10 rue Pavée is adjacent to the rue des Rosiers.[3]It was designed in 1913 by Art Nouveau architect Hector Guimard, who designed several Paris Metro stations.[citation needed] The Marais houses the Museum of Jewish Art and History, the largest French museum of Jewish art and history. The museum conveys the rich history and culture of Jews in Europe and North Africa from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.[4][5]

Terrorist attack[edit]

In 1982, Palestinian terrorists murdered 6 people and injured 22 at a Jewish restaurant in the Marais, Chez Jo Goldenberg, an attack which evidence ties to the Abu Nidal Organization.[6][7][8]

Post-war rehabilitation[edit]

By the 1950s, the district had become a working-class area and most of its architectural masterpieces were in a bad state of repair. In 1964, General de Gaulle's Culture Minister Andre Malraux made the Marais the first secteur sauvegardé (literally safeguarded sector). These were meant to protect and conserve places of special cultural significance. In the following decades the government and the Parisian municipality led an active restoration and Rehabilitation Policy.

The main Hôtels particuliers have been restored and turned into museums: the Hôtel Salé hosts the Picasso Museum, the Hôtel Carnavalet hosts the Paris Historical Museum, the Hôtel Donon hosts the Cognacq-Jay Museum, the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan hosts the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme. The site of Beaubourg, the western part of Marais, was chosen for the Centre Georges Pompidou, France's national Museum of Modern Art and one of the world's most important cultural institutions. The building was completed in 1977 with revolutionary architecture by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers.

Today's Marais[edit]

The Marais is now one of Paris' main localities for art galleries. Following its rehabilitation, the Marais has become a fashionable district, home to many trendy restaurants, fashion houses, and hip galleries.

The Marais is also known for its Chinese community. The community began to form during World War I. At that time, France needed workers to replace its at-war soldiers and China decided to send a few thousand of its citizens on the condition that they would not take part in the war. After the 1918 victory, some of them stayed in Paris, living around the current rue au Maire. Today, most work in jewellery and leather-related products. The Marais' Chinese community has settled in the north of the district, particularly in the surrounding of Place de la République. Next to it, on the Rue du Temple, is the Chinese Church of Paris.

Other features of the neighbourhood include the Musée Picasso, the house of Nicolas Flamel, the Musée Cognacq-Jay, and the Musée Carnavalet.

LGBT culture[edit]

The Marais became a centre of LGBT culture, beginning in the 1980s.[citation needed] Florence Tamagne, author of Paris: 'Resting on its Laurels'?, wrote that the Marais "is less a 'village' where one lives and works than an entrance to a pleasure area" and that this differentiates it from Anglo-American gay villages.[9] Tamagne added that like US gay villages, the Marais has "an emphasis on 'commercialism, gay pride and coming-out of the closet'".[9]Le Dépôt, one of the largest cruising bars in Europe as of 2014 (per Tamagne), is in the Marais area.[9]

Notable residents[edit]

Places and monuments of note[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Le Marais in Paris". Paris Digest. 2018. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  2. ^ This hôtel remained until 1868, and the rue du Roi-de-Sicile is named after it.
  3. ^ JARRASSE Dominique, Guide du patrimoine juif parisien, éditions Parigramme, 2003, p. 121-125.
  4. ^ Godet, Jean-Christophe (2011). "Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme," TimeOut Paris (online, 13 September), see [1], accessed 15 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme".
  6. ^ Samuel, Henry (17 June 2005). "Suspected mastermind of 1982 Paris Jewish restaurant attack 'bailed in Jordan'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  7. ^ Massoulié, François (1999). Middle East Conflicts. Interlink Illustrated Histories. Northampton, Massachusetts, USA: Interlink Books. p. 98. ISBN 978-1566562379. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  8. ^ Harrison, Michael M. (1994). "France and International Terrorism: Problem and Response". In Charters, David (ed.). The Deadly Sin of Terrorism: Its Effect on Democracy and Civil Liberty in Six Countries. Contributions in Political Science, No. 340 (Johnpoll, B. K., ser. ed.). Westport, Connecticut: ABC-CLIO/Greenwood. p. 108. ISBN 978-0313289644. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  9. ^ a b c Tamagne, Florence (2014). "Paris: 'Resting on its Laurels'?" (Chapter 12). In: Evans, Jennifer V. and Matt Cook. Queer Cities, Queer Cultures: Europe since 1945, pp. 240, 250, London, ENG: Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 144114840X, 9781441148407, see 240 and [2], accessed 15 November 2015.
  10. ^ Anon. (9 July 1971). "Jim Morrison: Lead rock singer dies in Paris". The Toronto Star. United Press International. p. 26.
  11. ^ Young, Michelle (1 July 2014). "The Apartment in Paris Where Jim Morrison Died at 17 Rue Beautreillis". Untapped Cities. Retrieved 15 November 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°51′36″N 02°21′39″E / 48.86000°N 2.36083°E / 48.86000; 2.36083