Best Paris Strolls

Stroll 9: Western & Northern Marais

Stroll 9 Archives Nationales

Quick Description:  Preserved Renaissance area, museums for France’s national archives, Jewish heritage, and hunting and nature, plus historic food market, park, shopping, more.   

Where: Right Bank, from Hotel de Ville north to Place de la Republique.   

Start in front of the Hotel de Ville, on Rue de Rivoli, outside Metro station Hotel de Ville (#1 line). End at Place de la Republique, outside Metro station Republique (#3, #5, #8, #9, #11 lines). 

Duration: 45 min walk, @3.5-5 hrs with venue visits (add 20 minutes or so for the optional Jardin Anne Frank visit). 

Best Days: Sun – Mon and  Wed –  Fri.  

Best Time to Start: 10:30 – Noon. 

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Connects: by foot to Stroll 28 (Canal Saint Martin), and by quick Metro rides to Stroll 21 (Opera-Haussmann-Saint Lazare), or Stroll 27 (Arts et Metiers to Republique).

Past and Present: The Marais (meaning “marsh”), takes up a delta-shaped portion of the eastern Right Bank where ages ago streams fed into the Seine.  From the 1200s on the area was occupied by religious sects, who drained the marsh and established farms and markets.  The mid-1300s city wall of King Charles V enclosed the area and, over the next 300 years, it became a favorite of aristocrats, who built numerous mansions.  The Marais declined after the Revolution and by the 1960s it was considered ripe for demolition.  Fortunately, it was preserved.  It is now the hub of the city’s Jewish and Gay communities and a popular destination for visitors, who enjoy its picturesque Renaissance mansions and streets, interesting museums (many free), historic churches, unique boutiques and varied restaurants.  The Western portion features a major department store beloved by Parisians, a medieval cloister, the National Archives, a Jewish heritage museum, a lovely small park dedicated to the diarist and Holocaust victim Anne Frank, and an innovative museum focused on the historical significance of hunting and nature in France.  The Northern portion features a food market dating from 1615, as well as a park with a pond and exotic trees built on the site of the medieval enclosure of the Knights Templar, and other interesting sites.  And both areas offer good dining options. 

Attractions (in order):

(Note: “Hotel” as used here refers to “hotel particulier,” meaning a former private mansion.) 

  • BHV Department Store: #52-56 Rue de Rivloi and #55 Rue de la Verrerie.  Store dating from the 19th century, housed in a Beaux Arts building, and offering a wide selection of well-priced fashion and home goods.  Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 11am-7pm.   
  • Cloitre des Billettes: #24 Rue des Archives.  Intact medieval cloister, often the site of special exhibits.  Daily 11am-7pm, free. 
  • Archives Nationales: Hotel de Soubise-Rohan complex, entry #60 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, at Rue des Archives. Famous documents and artifacts of the Middle Ages, Ancien Regime and Napoleonic Era, presented in a complex of 17th and 18th century mansions with formal courtyard gardens.  Mon and Wed-Fri 10am-5:30pm, Sat-Sun 2pm-5:30pm, €5 unguided, €8 guided, free for various categories of persons, gardens open daily and free.  Entire venue closed various holidays.   
  • Jardin Anne Frank: End of Impasse Berthaud, an optional detour.  Small, secluded park named for the young diarist and Holocaust victim, featuring a variety of plantings and a lengthy pergola.  Mon-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat-Sun 10am-7pm, free.
  • Musee d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme:  #71 Rue du Temple.  Art and history of Jewish civilization in Europe and North Africa, presented in a 17th century mansion. Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sun 10am-6pm, €10 general admission, €11 with special exhibits, discounts for youths.  
  • Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature: #62 Rue des Archives.  Museum of Hunting and Nature, featuring taxidermy, weapons, a replicated hunting lodge room, related art of various periods, presented in two mansions of the 17th and 18th centuries.   Wed-Mon 11am-6pm (Wed to 7:30), €10 (under 18 free, with ID). 
  • Passage de Retz: Hotel de Retz, #9 Rue Charlot.  Modern design gallery with changing exhibits in 17th  century mansion, with a small cafe.  Tues-Sun 10am-7pm, €8, children under 12 free.   
  • Marche des Enfants Rouge: #39 Rue de Bretagne.  The city’s oldest operating food market, dating from 1615, is partly covered and features fresh produce, fish, pastry, cheese and flower vendors, plus an eclectic mix of prepared food vendors with counter and table seating (See “Dining Suggestions”).  Mon-Fri 8:30am-7:30pm, Sun 8:30am-2pm.   
  • Empreintes Gallery: #5 Rue de Picardie, just off Rue de Bretagne.  Creations by craft designers, mostly in ceramics (decorative and utilitarian) and jewelry, on several floors, plus a section selling fine arts publications. Prices @€75-$1000.  Tues-Sun 11am-1pm and 2pm-7pm.
  • Square du Temple – Elie Wiesel: Along Rue de Bretagne.  This public park in the English Garden style was created during the Second Empire on the former site of the castle and enclosure of the Knights Templar.  In 2007 it was named also for Holocaust author Elie Wiesel.  The grounds feature a pond and many exotic trees, plus a children’s play area, and Wifi.  Mon-Fri 8am-9pm, Sat-Sun 9am-9pm, free.  Public Toilets are located outside the Rue du Temple entrance to the park.
  • Carreau du Temple: Ticket entry at #2 Rue Perree, by Rue Eugene Spuller.  Constructed 1863-65 on the site of the enclosure of the Knights Templar, this striking glass and iron building was   originally a marketplace and now is a multi-purpose event, entertainment and workshop venue for art, music, sports/fitness and more. Mon-Fri 10am-9pm, Sat 10am-7pm.  Note: Best to check the website and reserve tickets in advance for scheduled programs.   
  • OFR Bookshop/Gallery: #20 Rue Dupetit-Thoars.  Popular indie bookstore focusing on art and photography titles, plus a gallery and gift shop.  Daily 10am-8pm.   
  • Church of Saint Elisabeth of Hungry: #195 Rue du Temple. 17th century  Catholic church named for the 13th century’s Saint Elisabeth of Hungary.  Artworks include a Pieta in the tympanum, a quartet of exterior sculptures, early 17th century wood carvings in the choir area and a large fresco above the altar.  Open to visitors Daily 9am-7pm, free.  
  • Place de la Republique: Grand 19th century plaza with a central statue called “Marianne,” celebrating the first three French Republics. This is also a major traffic roundabout and the site of Metro station Republique, a hub for five lines.   Recent renovations have made the plaza into a large pedestrian space, and it is often the sight of political gatherings and protests.   Public Toilets are located along the east side of Blvd du Temple just south of the plaza. 

Dining Suggestions (in order):

  • Le Hangar, #12 Impasse Berthaud, on optional detour to Jardin Anne Frank.    French home-style cuisine, tea salon options.  Homey traditional room, outdoor seating under awning. Tues-Sat Noon-2:30pm, 6:45pm-11pm (closed during August). Average cost @€25-30 3 courses, cash only.   
  • La Terrasse des Archives, #51 Rue des Archives at Rue des Haudriettes. French cuisine.  Traditional room, outdoor seating.  Mon-Fri 7:30am-2am, Sat-Sun from 8:30am. Average cost: @€13-30.  
  • Hank Burger, #55 Rue des Archives.  Vegan burgers and pizzas.  Casual modern room.  Daily Noon-10pm.  Prix fixe meals @€13-15. 
  • Dining Options in Marche des Enfants Rouge: The main entry to market is at #39 Rue de Bretagne.  Stalls, as well as venues with sit-down counters and/or table seating, offer a wide variety of prepared foods, e.g., French, Lebanese, Moroccan, Italian, Oyster Bar.  Market open Mon-Fri 8am-8:30pm, Sun 8am-4pm.  Dining venues generally open from late morning till early evening, with moderate prices.
  • Café Philippe: #14 Rue Dupetit-Thoars.  French cuisine with a modern slant.  Dining room blends traditional and modern casual décor.  There is also outdoor seating.  Mon-Fri Noon-2:30pm, 7:30pm-10:30pm, Sat-Noon-3pm, 7:30pm-10:30pm, Sun Noon-3pm.  Appetizers @7-12E, Mains @€16-23.

Ready to stroll?
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Stroll Map

Ready to stroll?
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