Our fourth floor walk-up apartment — 73 steps from the street — was on Rue Saint-Croix de la Brettoniere in the heart of Le Marais, our favorite neighborhood in which to stay. Le Marais, architecturally characterized by attractive stucco and light stone four-and-five story rows of buildings, is the old Jewish Quarter of the city. There still remains a block or so of shops and purveyors of services that cater to a Jewish clientele — kosher butchers, bread makers, creperies, and street food vendors.
These days it has the feel of a village within the city — narrow curving streets and lanes lined with trendy shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes, along with residential apartment buildings and boutique hotels. Located adjacent to the Hotel de Ville, Paris’ city hall, and two blocks from Rive Seine, Le Marais is also the epicenter of Parisian gay culture.
Le Marais is quintessential ‘cafe society.’ One block of Rue Archives, just around the corner where we stayed, is lined with cafes and restaurants on one side. Patrons spend the morning, as we did, sipping espresso and eating croissants and smoking cigarettes (which we did not), and in the afternoon, having late lunches and small plates, sipping wine and other potables, and smoking cigarettes.
Every morning we prepared for the day’s activity, gathering maps, tickets, camera, snacks, and directions — and descended the 73-step circular staircase to street level. (In the airport, we purchased train and metro tickets, plus museum passes for 4 days, and that proved to be a huge advantage in avoiding long lines at museums and ticketed sites.) While “On The Move” characterized our five-day stay, we did so at a more leisurely pace, seeing one or two sites, wandering around neighborhoods, then returning to the apartment late afternoon to rest up for an enjoyable evening of cocktails, dinner, and wine. We chose two museums to visit (among Paris’ 130), one out-of-the-city excursion, and a few neighborhoods and parks to explore.
NEXT: Versailles and Musee d’Orsay