The Marais in Paris

Saturday, 5 December 2015 - 01:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Paris

Place des Vosges © AlNo/cc-by-sa-3.0

Place des Vosges © AlNo/cc-by-sa-3.0

Le Marais (“The Marsh”) is a historic district in Paris. 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). 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. 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 in 1605, the Marais was the French nobility’s favorite place of residence. French nobles built their urban mansions there 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.

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’s clothing specialization. But, during World War II the Jewish community was targeted by the Nazis who were occupying France. The rue des Rosiers is still 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. Le Marais houses the Museum of Jewish Art and History, which traces the history of the Jewish world through its artistic and cultural heritage. The Agoudas Hakehilos Synagogue on 10 rue Pavée is not far from rue des Rosiers. It was designed in 1913 by Art Nouveau architect Hector Guimard, who designed several Paris Metro stations.

Restaurant Chez Marianne © Zantastik/cc-by-sa-3.0 Place des Vosges © flickr.com - Tim Schapker/cc-by-2.0 Hotel Guénégaud - Musée de la Chasse © Pline/cc-by-sa-3.0 Place des Vosges © AlNo/cc-by-sa-3.0 Hotel de Sens © Pline/cc-by-sa-3.0 Hotel Sully © Beckstet/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Hotel Guénégaud - Musée de la Chasse © Pline/cc-by-sa-3.0
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 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 Cognacq-Jay Museum, etc. 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.

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 neighbourhood 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 southwestern 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 Chinese community it hosts. The community began to appear 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 decided to stay in Paris, specifically living around the current rue au Maire. Today, most work in jewelery 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, the Musée Carnavalet and the new and very popular Café Charlot.

Read more on timeout.com – Marais and Beaubourg area guide, BBC, 25 July 2019: The secret seat of the Knights Templar and Wikipedia Le Marais (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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