Even though we usually stay in Saint-Germain, when visiting Paris, our favourite part of town is Le Marais (“The Marsh”), the former Jewish quarter, and prior to that the home of the high nobility. We always spend at least a couple of hours sitting on a park bench or (in summer) on the lawn of Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square of the city, dating from 1612.
Originally named Place Royale, it was a popular meeting point for the nobility and one of the most fashionable and expensive squares until the Revolution, when most of the nobility moved to the Faubourg Saint-Germain district, just west of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
We love the relaxed, laid-back, bohemian atmosphere of the Marais with its many young people, hip fashion shops, and, of course, a whole range of some of the best restaurants in town. Among our favourites are Les Philosophes and Café Breizh. We were disappointed by Sacha Finkelsztajn’s La Boutique Jaune, which is famed for, among others, its pastrami sandwiches, which we didn’t find particularly tasty (and there was hardly any meat in it). We also always find it a bit annoying, when a store creates long queues intentionally through super-slow service, just to make themselves look more popular.
The Picasso Museum, located in the beautiful 17th Century Hôtel Salé in rue de Thorigny, is always worth a visit. This time around we also managed to visit Marche des Enfants Rouges for the first time, and had a great time.
When walking there from Café Breizh, we passed by burned out car with a sticker glued to the remains of one of its doors reading, in French, “Don’t play with the devil.” Someone left flowers on the wreck, indicating that someone must have died, and a sign by the police informs that the matter is currently investigated by one of its departments, witnesses are asked to call a number. These are reminders of the horrible riots that ensued in February all over the capital, after news came out of a young black man having been tortured by white police officers.