Wondering what to do in Le Marais, Paris? I love the neighborhood so much that I got an apartment there. We have everything — restaurants, bars, cafés, markets, the best shopping in the city — all in one very manageable, human-sized package. (Read: gorgeous old limestone buildings.) This itinerary is focused on the Upper Marais, or the third arrondissement. It’s small, packed with things to do and see, and super convenient to the rest of the city. Bienvenue!
If somehow you’re not sold on the neighborhood yet, why not check out our “Which Paris neighborhood is right for you?” quiz??
7 a.m. The Upper Marais doesn’t have as many hotels as other Parisian neighborhoods. Regardless, Hotel Providence offers a boutique hotel experience (read: small rooms with clawfoot bathtubs and the odd vintage find) for under $200 a night. Otherwise, take your pick of Airbnbs — ideally as close as possible to the Square du Temple.
9 a.m. Speaking of: In good weather, the Square du Temple might be the loveliest natural space in the Upper Marais. Though you’d never guess today, this peaceful spot — beloved of families with young children and hungry ducks — was once the site of a temple built by the Knights Templar and later a prison (occupied by such notables as Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI). You have plenty of picks for a superior pain au chocolat in this neighborhood, but head to 134 RdT (a.k.a. Tout Autour du Pain) for award-winning croissants and more. Then go sit on a beach in the Square du Temple and eat everything.
11 a.m. The Upper Marais has some of the city’s best shopping. A half-block from the park is Empreintes, a four-story emporium of high-end craft works. (Think $240 sculptures made from wavy wood.) Pass by the marché des Enfants Rouges (we’ll be back) to head east, to 7 Rue Froissart, the Marais HQ of Le Labo — here you’ll find the only-in-Paris scent Vanille 44. Once you get to boulevard Beaumarchais, you’ll find some of the city’s other top retailers, including Merci, A.P.C., Maison Kitsuné, Soeur, and Bonpoint. If the shopping fatigues, stop for a coffee at Merci’s Ciné Café.
12:30 p.m. At more than 400 years old, the marché des Enfants Rouges is one of the oldest markets in the city. If you’ll be snacking at home later, peruse the vendors selling fruit and veg, fish, cheese, and flowers. Get lunch at Breizh, with singularly great crepes (and galettes, the savory equivalent).
2 p.m. Just across rue Vieille du Temple from Breizh is the newish Picasso Museum, installed within the gorgeous Hôtel de Salé: “the biggest, the most extraordinary, even the most extravagant of the grand Parisian mansions of the 17th century.” Honestly, it’s worth coming for the building alone; everything else depends on the quality of the exhibition on view, as the permanent collection can’t (yet) rival those of the other Picasso museums elsewhere. After visiting, hop around to the “back” of the museum, a pretty little park (entry on rue Vieille du Temple).
4 p.m. If you’re in the mood for another museum, the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature is just a five-minute walk. Kids who really, really, really love animals might not appreciate the hunting-themed exhibitions. The museum often makes room for less pelt-centric shows with installations or performances from leading contemporary artists, like Sophie Calle or Théo Mercier.
6 p.m. Ready for an apéro? La Perle is a leading neighborhood hangout in Le Marais Paris — especially when the fashion crowds stop by during fashion week (the last week of February and September). It’s appealingly dumpy ‘n’ divey — and the food is good!
8:30 p.m. Where to eat? Oh là là. You want cheap? Try our preferred vendor of falafels (Mi Va Mi). You want Japanese? It’s gotta be Soma. You want classic French café? Clearly it’s Café Charlot. For my money, if I had to eat one meal in this neighborhood — lines be damned, and this is the key thing — it’d be at Big Love, which is the perpetually crowded, exceptionally Instagrammable Italian spot from the Big Momma team. (They have a ton of restaurants, in Paris, Lille, and London, and they all, always have lines. (Try off season! Or on a rainy day!)
10:30 p.m. Join the rest of the neighborhood for drinks at Le Progrès. Cheers/salut/etc!