Le Marais, Marché des Enfants Rouge, Musée Picasso, Archives nationales
ABOUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD . . .
This district of Paris has a rich history that goes back to medieval times, but it is also one of the trendiest, making a fast transition from small factories and warehouses to sparkling restaurants, innovative local designers and expensive apartments with 17th century wood beams that draw the hip and artistic and the well-heeled. Part of the Marais, the city’s traditional Jewish district, falls in the Third. The name means a swamp that was drained long ago as Paris spread hesitantly from its founding islands to both sides of the Seine. The Marais is rich in cultural sites. There’s the recently renovated Musée Picasso, Musée Carnavalet, which recapitulates the city’s history, Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme and the Archives nationales, which offers a steady stream of interesting exhibits. The tourist crowds can be overwhelming in the summer but shouldering your way through is worth it to see the many “hôtels particuliers,” the 17th and 18th century townhouses of the rich and famous, which have been turned into corporate and non-profit use. For a quick bite or a snack in your hotel room later, visit the Marché des Enfants Rouges, one of Paris’ oldest outdoor markets with its rows of stalls offering Caribbean, Italian, Japanese and North African food you can eat at tables in the market or “à emporter” (to go). If you’re feeling out of touch with current events, stroll up to the Place de la République, where there’s bound to be a demonstration of political protest of some kind, also very characteristic of Paris.