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Le Marais

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Le Marais


Basic Information

Location 4 Rue Elzevir, 75003 Paris, France
Country France
City Paris

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility yes
Website http://www.aparisguide.com/lemarais/index.html
Geographical Coordinates 48.85789,2.36129


Le Marais ("The Marsh") is a historic district in Paris, France. This restored neighborhood is situated on a land-filled-swamp. Once a center of high culture, the neighborhood fell into disrepair after the French Revolution. However, it has since regained its eminence. Long the aristocratic district of Paris, it hosts many outstanding buildings of historic and architectural importance and spreads across parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in Paris (on the Rive Droite, or Right Bank, of the Seine).


The Marais is now one of Paris' main localities for art galleries. Following its rehabilitation, the Marais become a fashionable district, home to many trendy restaurants, fashion houses, and hype galleries. The neighborhood has experienced a growing gay presence since the 1980s, as evidenced by the existence of many gay cafés, nightclubs, cabarets and shops. These establishments are mainly concentrated in the south-western portion of the Marais, many on or near the streets Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie and rue des Archives. The Marais is also known for the strong Chinese community it hosts. The community began during World War I. At that time, France needed workers to replace its at-war soldiers and China decided to send a few thousands of its citizens on the condition that they would not take part of the war. After the 1918's victory, some of them decided to stay in Paris, specifically living around the current rue au Maire. Today, the Marais' Chinese community has settled in the north of the district, particularly in the surrounding of Place de la République.

Features of the neighborhood include the Musée Picasso, the house of Nicolas Flamel, the Musée Cognacq-Jay, the Musée Carnavalet and the new and very popular Café Charlot.

The rue des Rosiers is still a major center of the Paris Jewish community, which has made a renewal since the 1990's. 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, not far from rue des Rosiers, is still a strong religious center

History and time period

Le Marais was designed in 1913 by Art Nouveau architect Hector Guimard, famous for having designed several Paris Metro stations.After the nobility started to move to the Faubourg Saint-Germain, 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 clothing specialization. But, during World War II the Jewish community was targeted by the Nazis who were occupying France.

By the 1950's, 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 secured area). These were meant to protect and conserve places of special cultural significance. The following decades, the government and the Parisian municipality have 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 Cognac-Jay Museum etc. The site of Beaubourg, the western part of Marais, was chosen for the Center 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.

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