Marais Quarter, Paris

The Marais quarter corresponds broadly to the fourth arrondissement. During the last 30 years a costly restoration program has saved a whole chapter in the history of Paris.

The Marais, with the Place des Vosges as its finest example of urban planning, was the birthplace of the hôtel, the magnificent town mansion of a family of the country nobility.

Picasso Museum

Picasso MuseumPicasso Museum Dan McKay
The Picasso Museum is housed in a former town mansion that has been carefully restored. Works of the artist are displayed in specific rooms, each with its own theme.

Place des Vosges

Place des VosgesPlace des Vosges
Laid out in the early 17th C, Place des Vosges became a model for other prominent squares in the city. This is the oldest public square in Paris.


Place de la BastillePlace de la Bastille
Now only the name of the spacious square, Place de la Bastille, is a reminder that the notorious state prison known as the Bastille, the much hated symbol of absolutist power, once stood here. Nothing is left of the building except a few foundations in the Métro, for after the storming of the Bastille on July 14 1789 it was completely demolished within a few months. Stones from the Bastille were used in the construction of the bridge over the Seine at Place de la Concorde.
Inside the Bastille, Métro is a huge mosaic (by Odile Jacquot, 1988), a free interpretation of the Revolutionary flag in the national colors of blue, white and red. There is a model of the Bastille as it was before its demolition in the Musée Carnavalet.
The Bastille ("small bastion") was begun in 1370, in the reign of Charles V, in order to reinforce the newly built town wall at this point, at the end of Rue Saint-Antoine. His successor enlarged the bastion, which by 1382 had become a massive ring fort with eight towers over 20m/65ft high. Even so it provided rather ineffective protection, for out of six occasions on which it was besieged during the civil wars it was taken six times. It became a state prison in the time of Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIII's minister. The number of prisoners, however, was never very great: in the reign of Louis XIV there were only some 40, and in that of Louis XVI no more than 19. Most of them were persons of rank and standing, few of whom had committed any crime. The majority were grumblers, free thinkers or liberals who were frequently confined on the strength of a royal order (lettre de cachet), without any judicial process. Conditions in the prison were not always disagreeable. Some of the prisoners had their own servants and could receive visitors: Cardinal de Rohan, while in the Bastille, gave a dinner for 20 guests. Among those confined here was Voltaire, who had expressed himself indiscreetly in "Candide" and wrote his "ádipe" while a prisoner, Mirabeau, Fouquet and the Marquis de Sade, who in the end was transferred to an asylum. On July 14, 1789, when the mob stormed the Bastille, they found only seven prisoners to liberate - petty criminals, including, it is said, two who were insane. They celebrated their triumph none the less.
The French writer and diplomat François-René de Chateaubriand describes the taking of the Bastille in his "Mémoires d'Outre-Tombe". "On July 14 the Bastille was taken by storm. I was a witness of this assault directed against a couple of old soldiers and a faint hearted governor. If the gates had been closed the people would never have made their way into the fortress. I saw two or three cannon shots fired, not by the old soldiers but by the Gardes Françaises, who had already occupied the towers. De Launay, the Governor, was fetched from his hiding-place and after much manhandling was slaughtered on the steps of the Town Hall. Flesselles, leader of the merchants, had his skull shattered by a pistol shot - a spectacle much enjoyed by the heartless lookers-on.
As in the street fighting in Rome in the time of Otho and Vitellius, the mob indulged in unbridled orgies in the midst of the slaughter. The victors of the Bastille, drunk with success and hailed as conquerors in the taverns, were driven round the town in carriages, accompanied by prostitutes and sansculottes who joined in the triumph.
Passers-by, with respect inspired by fear, took off their hats to these heroes, some of whom died of exhaustion at the height of their triumph. The number of keys of the Bastille kept increasing, and they were sent to highly placed boobies far and wide. The experts proceeded to conduct post-mortems on the Bastille. Makeshift cafes were established under canvas, and people thronged to them as to a fair. Innumerable carriages drove past or stopped at the foot of the towers, the stones of which were being pulled down amid great clouds of dust... It was a rallying point for the most famous orators, the best known writers, leading actors and actresses, the most popular dancers, the most distinguished foreigners, the great lords of the court and envoys from all over Europe. The old France had come to take farewell for ever, the new France to make its debut."
The anniversary of the fall of the Bastille is France's National Day (July 14), which is celebrated all over the country with dances, street festivals, military parades, firework displays and other special events.

Opéra de la Bastille

The site of the Bastille is now occupied by the new Opera House designed by the Uruguay-born Canadian architect Carlos Ott and officially opened by President Mitterand on July 13 1989. The first performance, after the final completion of construction work, was of Berlioz's "Trojans" on March 17 1990.
This prestigious building, a combination of rectangles and curves, covers an area of some 15 hec/37 acr. The stepped lattice-work glass facade has a cool and functional appearance. The bright foyer forms a kind of semicircle round the auditorium, whose tent-like glass ceiling harmonizes well with the steeply raked rows of white seats below. At the entrance is a colorful statue of the Genius of femininity by Niki de Saint-Phalle. The gigantic stage of the main house, which has seating for 2,700, is surrounded by five subsidiary stages of similar dimensions beside it and behind it. The view of the stage from the auditorium and the acoustics are both excellent. The complex also includes an amphitheater with seating for 600, a theater which can be arranged to seat audiences of varying size between 600 and 1,300, a studio with seating for 280, rehearsal stages, a library and a videotheque.
Adjoining the Opera is the Grandes Marches restaurant, demolished and rebuilt as a historical replica.
Address: 120 rue de Lyon, Place de Bastille, F-75012 Paris, France

Bastille Colonne de Juillet

In the center of Place de la Bastille is the 51m/167ft high Colonne de Juillet, topped by a graceful figure of Liberty (by Dumont), which was regilded in 1989. It commemorates not the fall of the Bastille but the Republicans killed during the July Revolution of 1830 which overthrew Charles X and brought Louis-Philippe to power. Four Gallic cocks and a lion relief on the base of the column symbolize the free people of France. A spiral staircase (283 steps) inside the column leads to a viewing platform from which there is an impressive view of the new Opéra-Bastille.

Musée Carnavalet

Carnavalet is a garbled form of the name of the former owner of the house, the widow of the Sire de Kernevenoy, a Breton. The house was built in the 16th century, probably by Pierre Lescot, the architect responsible for the Renaissance facade of the Louvre. The main doorway, with carvings of lions by Jean Goujon, and the range of buildings facing the entrance date from the 16th century. The other wings round the courtyard, in the center of which is a fine statue of Louis XIV (by Antoine Coysevox, 1698), were remodelled by François Mansart in the 17th century. The Hôtel de Carnavalet was occupied from 1677 to 1696 by Madame de Sévigné, whose letters to her daughter, over 1,500 in number, describing life in Paris and at the court in Versailles are valuable documents on the age of the Sun King.
Address: 23 rue de Sévigné, F-75003 Paris, France

Museum of the History of Paris

The Museum of the History of Paris displays in a series of finely contrived rooms a comprehensive collection of pictures, sculpture, engravings, ceramics, furniture and everyday objects of the most varied kinds which gives a vivid picture of the history of Paris from its Gallo- Roman beginnings to the time of Louis XVI, while the four new rooms in the Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau carry on the story from the French Revolution to the present day. Among the most notable features are the Galerie Sévigné, the Bouvier collection, the workshop of the jeweller Fouquet (by Alfons Mucha, 1900) and the ballroom designed by José Maria Sert for Mme de Wendel (1924).
Address: Hôtel de Soubise, 60 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, F-75141 Paris, France

Hôtel de Donon Musée Cognacq-Jay

The Hôtel de Donon in Marais, built for Médéric de Donon in the 16th C, was completely renovated in 1991 and now accommodates the Musée Cognacq-Jay, which until 1989 was on the Boulevard des Capucines. The valuable Cognacq-Jay collection, assembled by the businessman Ernest Cognacq and his wife Louise Jay and bequeathed to the city in 1928, displays artistic masterpieces of the siècle des lumières (18th C), including works by Fragonard, Boucher and Watteau.
Address: Hôtel de Donon, 8 rue Elzévir, F-75003 Paris, France

Archives Nationales Hôtel de Rohan - Soubise Musée de l'Histoire de France

The French National Archives, founded at the beginning of the 19th C and housed in the Hôtel de Rohan-Soubise, are one of the largest archive collections in the world. Much needed additional accommodation has recently been provided in the modern CARAN building (Centre d'Accueil et de Recherche des Archives Nationales).
The Hôtel de Rohan-Soubise, with a colonnaded courtyard, was built by Pierre-Alexis Delamair in 1704-12 for the Princesse de Soubise and was converted to its present purpose in 1808. It contains, in the Musée de l'Histoire de France on the first floor, several million documents on the history of France from the seventh century to the Second World War. Among them are a papyrus scroll of 629 signed by King Dagobert, letters of Joan of Arc, Napoleon's will and reports by the French Resistance hero Jean Moulin.
Of the state apartments the most notable are the Roccoco rooms, in particular the fanciful Salon Ovale (1708), a masterpiece of decoration by Germain Boffrand and the painters Natoire, Boucher and van Loo.
Address: 60 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, F-75003 Paris, France

Hôtel Guénégaud Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

The Hôtel Guénégaud, built by François Mansart in 1651 in Marais for the royal treasurer François de Guénégaud, is now occupied by the Museum of Hunting and Nature. The nucleus of the museum was the collection assembled by the industrialist François Sommer, a keen sportsman. The exhibits include old guns, hunting knives, trophies, animal studies by François Desportes (1661-1743) and hunting scenes by Lucas Cranach, Pieter Breughel the Elder, Rubens, Chardin and Oudre.
Address: Hotel de Guénégaud des Brosses, 60 rue des Archives, F-75003 Marais, France

Hôtel de Sully de Béthune

The Hôtel de Béthune-Sully (by Jean Androuet du Cerceau, 1624) a sumptuous mansion, was the town house of Henri IV's minister Maximilien de Béthune. The courtyard and the sculptural decoration on the garden front are particularly fine. It is now occupied by the Caisse Nationale des Monuments Historiques et des Sites, the body concerned with the protection of historic monuments and sites.
Address: 62 rue Saint-Antoine, F-75004 Marais, France

Hôtel Libéral Bruand Musée Bricard

The Hôtel Libéral Bruand in Marais was built by the architect of that name in 1685 for his own occupation. It is now occupied by the Musée Bricard, which contains an extensive collection of material on the locksmith's craft from Roman times to the present day.
Address: Hôtel Libéral Bruand, 1 rue de la Perle, F-75003 Marais, France

Hôtel de Rohan-Strasbourg

The Hôtel de Rohan-Strasbourg in Marais, designed by Delamair, contains notarial records. The only rooms open to the public are those in which the Archives put on special exhibitions.
In the second courtyard is a lively high-relief by Robert Le Lorrain (18th century), "Apollo's Horses of the Sun".

Museum of Judaic Art and History

Museum of Judaic Art and History is the is the successor to the Musée d'art juif de Paris. This museum covers the history of Jewish communities from the middle ages to the present day. The collections include Jewish art and cultural goods. Many of the items were redistributed after the Nazis looting.
Address: Hôtel de Saint-Aignan, 71 rue du Temple, F-75003 Paris, France

Hôtel d'Aumont

The Marais Hôtel d'Aumont, built between 1630 and 1650 by Louis Le Vau and altered in 1656 by François Mansart, is now occupied by the Paris Administrative Tribunal.
Address: 7 rue de Jouy, F-75004 Paris, France

Hôtel de Sens Bibliothèque Forney

The Hôtel de Sens, built between 1475 and 1607 by the archbishops of Sens, is one of the oldest houses in Paris. It now houses the Forney Library, which contains important material on art and industrial technology.
Address: 1 rue du Figuier, F-75004 Marais, France

Musée de la Poupée

The "Au Petit Monde Ancien" presents a collection of over 500 China dolls and French babies from 1860 to present day. The museum is geared to families to enjoy workshops, storytelling, and tours.
Address: Impasse Berthaud, Au niveau du 22 rue Beaubourg, F-75003 Paris, France

Salle de Traditions de la Garde Republicaine

This exhibition obtains history from 1802 to present day. The collections include arms, musical instruments, models, etc. Every first Thursday of each month, there will be a special demonstrations of the Garde Républicaine.
Address: 18 boulevard Henri IV, F-75004 Paris, France

Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal

The Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal in Paris contains mainly French literature, as well as medieval manuscripts and works on the history of the cinema.
Address: 1 rue de Sully, F-75004 Paris, France

Hôtel Lamoignon (Bibliothèque Historique)

The Hôtel Lamoignon (by Jean-Baptiste Androuet du Cerceau, 1584) now houses the Library on the History of Paris.
Address: 24 rue Pavée, F-75004 Paris, France

Institut Tessin

Institut Tessin displays the history of Franco-Swedish artistic exchanges. The works cover from 18th C to contemporary period.
Address: Centre Culturel Suédois, Hôtel de Marle, 11 rue Payenne, F-75003 Paris, France

Maison Européenne de la Photographie

The Maison Européenne de la Photographie documents the history of modern photography. Exhibits include the 1950's to present day.
Address: 5/7 rue de Fourcy, F-75004 Paris, France

Hôtel Amelot de Bisseuil Dutch Embassy

The Marais Hôtel Amelot de Bisseuil (by Antoine Lepautre, 1657-60) is now the Dutch Embassy.

Hôtel d'Hallwyll

The Hôtel d'Hallwyll in Marais, built in 1765 by Claude- Nicolas Ledoux, was the residence of Louis XVI's minister Jacques Necker and his daughter Madame de Staël.

Hôtel de Beauvais

The Marais Hôtel de Beauvais was built by Antoine Lepautre in 1658-60. The young Mozart stayed here during his visit to Paris in 1763.

Musée de la Curiosite et De La Magie

The Musée de la Curiosite et De La Magie in Paris contains optical illusions, automatons, interactive games for children. There is demonstration of magic tricks.
Address: Ecole de Magie, 11 rue St Paul, F-75004 Paris, France

Musée Kwok On

The museum Kwok On in Paris contains Asian traditional crafts and theater.
Address: 41 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, F-75015 Paris, France

Mémorial du Martyr Juif Inconnu

This is dedicated to the six million Jews who were killed during the World War II.
Address: 37 rue de Turenne, F-75003 Paris, France

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

About 2km east of La Marais lies the Cimetiere du Père-Lachaise. Paris's largest (44 ha/100 ac) and most beautiful cemetery, named after Louis XIV's confessor, Père La Chaise, was laid out in 1804 on land belonging to the Jesuits. It contains the grave of the last Communards, who were shot here against the Mur des Fédérés in 1871, and a memorial to those who died in Nazi concentration camps. Among the many famous people buried here are Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin), Jean de La Fontaine, Honoré Balzac, Marcel Proust, Gérard de Nerval, Eugène Delacroix, Frédéric Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Guillaume Apollinaire, Alfred de Musset, Jean-Louis David, Dr Guillotin (inventor of the guillotine), Edith Piaf, Colette, Gertrude Stein, Max Ernst, Paul Eluard, Modigliani, Maria Callas, Jim Morrison, Serge Gainsbourg, Simone Signoret and Yves Montand. To the east of the Avenue Principale is the old Jewish part of the cemetery, with the graves of Camille Pissaro, Rothschild and Singer. A plan with a list of the graves can be obtained at the entrance.
Address: 16 rue du Repos, France

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