Try the ‘Guimauves’ at Delightful Pain de Sucre

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Visitors to the Pompidou Center should most definitely take a two-block detour to check out one of the most interesting patisseries in the Marais–Pain de Sucre. The award-winning shop was founded in 2004 by pastry chefs Didier Mathray and Nathalie Robert, both of whom honed their craft at Paris’s Michelin three-star restaurant Pierre Gagnaire. Unusual flavor pairings are the hallmark of Pain de Sucre and appear in many of the shop’s avant-garde tartes and cakes. Believe it or not, though, marshmallows (guimauves) are the patisserie’s specialty, and are prominently–and artfully–displayed in the boutique’s window. Continue Reading →

A Hidden Marais Garden Open Only On Weekends

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One of Paris’s most delightful parks—the Clos des Blancs-Manteaux in the Marais–is definitely one of the City of Light’s most hidden treasures. Many visitors stumble across Clos des Blancs-Manteaux by complete accident. And that’s entirely because they’re in the right place at precisely the right time. Why is timing so important? Because this lush three-tiered park is open only on weekends due to its location in a courtyard shared with an adjacent preschool. But it’s definitely worth a special weekend trip. Continue Reading →

A Marais Must: Notre Dame des Blancs-Manteaux

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Everyone is familiar with the “big name” churches in Paris: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Sainte-Chapelle and so on. But beyond making specific trips to these gorgeous, well-known houses of worships, a terrific way to get a feel for Paris and its rich history is to simply wander the streets and visit the City of Light’s lesser-known neighborhood churches one finds along the way. One of my favorite discoveries is Notre Dame des Blancs-Manteax in the Marais. Continue Reading →

Place des Vosges: Paris’s Most Beautiful Square

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There are many beautiful parks, squares and “places” throughout Paris, each with its own special charm. But ask a Parisian–or even a visitor to the City of Light–to name Paris’s most beautiful square, and the answer is routinely the Place des Vosges. Continue Reading →

Desserts Rule at Le Loir dans la Theiere in the Marais

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The amazing Le Loir dans la Theiere in the Marais is among my very favorite dessert spots in all of the City of Light. This funky, gay-friendly tea room offers a daily changing menu of homemade tarts and cakes, usually with five or six choices available for €8.50 and discounted to just €6.50 after 4 p.m.—if any are left. There’s usually at least a couple of desserts remaining, but if you don’t want to take a chance on missing out, show up around lunchtime when the selection is abundant. Delicious! Continue Reading →

Breton Cuisine, Funky Art at Page 35 Restaurant

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In the heart of the Marais lies a wonderful Breton restaurant that’s as popular for its food as it is for the rotating exhibitions of artwork by a cadre of international graphic artists that line its colorful walls. Page 35, located just opposite the quaint Square Louis Achille, is a hugely popular neighborhood destination for locals, including many families with children in tow. It’s also a hit with Paris’s LGBT community, often drawing a large crowd of trendy gays and lesbians attracted to Page 35’s funky, contemporary vibe and artistic atmosphere. And despite its prime location near several prominentsight-seeing destinations (the Picasso museum, Place des Vosges, the Musee Carnavalet and the many trendy boutiques on the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, to name a few), the restaurant is rarely visited by tourists. So if you’re hoping to experience Paris as a local, you’ve definitely come to the right place at Page 35. You’re also in luck if you’re a history buff, as the gorgeous 17th century building that houses the restaurant is steeped in French history. Continue Reading →

Hotel de Sens: A Marvelous Medieval Marais Mansion

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Paris is nirvana for lovers of art and architecture. It seems like every new street corner unveils another marvel, some totally unexpected. This is one of the true joys of visiting the City of Light—suddenly stumbling upon a beautiful old building, statue, park or street art that warms the heart and sparks the spirit. One of the best of these surprises is when wandering the streets of the Marais near the Seine and suddenly catching a glimpse of the gorgeous stone mansion Hotel de Sens—what can only be described as a stately medieval castle, complete with turrets, spires and grand stone arches. And it is accurate to depict the Hotel de Sens as medieval, as its construction as a private mansion began in 1475, the tail end of the Middle Ages. In fact, the Hotel de Sens is one of only three medieval residences remaining in all of Paris. Continue Reading →

Old-World and Jewish Goodies at Sacha Finkelsztajn

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Prior to World War II, the Marais was the center of Jewish life in Paris and the Rue des Rosiers (Street of the Rose Bushes) was the heart of this Jewish enclave. But much has changed in the old Jewish quarter over the past 70 years. The street now boasts considerably more trendy and overpriced boutiques (even a number of international chain stores) than Jewish businesses. But there are still remnants of Paris’s once-thriving Jewish district along the five block-long street and its adjacent lanes: the Agudath Hakehilot orthodox synagogue, Judaica bookstores Librairie Bibliophane and Diasporama, and a number of kosher restaurants and delis. A must-stop destination among these is Sacha Finkelsztajn, a bakery and delicatessen dubbed by locals as La Boutique Jaune (the yellow shop)—so-named because of its bright yellow facade—that’s been operated by the same family for nearly 60 years. Continue Reading →

Hotel de Sully: A Mansion in the Heart of LGBT Paris

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Paris’s Marais district, and in particular the areas around the Metro stations Hotel de Ville and Saint-Paul, is the heart of the City of Light’s thriving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. And while there are plenty of LGBT shops, bars, restaurants and sight-seeing destinations in this neighborhood, it’s also home to more than a dozen 17th and 18th century mansions, called Hotels de Particuliers, that once served as single-family homes to France’s wealthy aristocrats who wished to live near Continue Reading →

Marais Institution Makes Europe’s Best Falafel

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If you’ve ever visited the Marais—specifically the Jewish neighborhood along the Rue des Rosiers—you’ve undoubtedly seen the long lines at Middle Eastern restaurant L’As du Fallafel. And virtually everyone orders the falafel pita—deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas seasoned with garlic and other spices and covered with fried eggplant, pickled red cabbage, hummus, hot sauce, cucumbers and tahini. This house specialty even led to the restaurant’s slogan “Toujours imite, jamais egale (Always imitated, never equaled)”—and draws raves from both locals and tourists who say the falafel is the best in Europe. Continue Reading →