Joyeuse Fête Nationale! Happy Bastille Day! How’s this for a little taste of France… come back next week for the things you must do the first time you visit Paris!
I’ve been to Paris 4 times so far. With a whole world calling me, why do I keep coming back? Because even despite difficulties, I always get this feeling like I truly belong there. Could it be because I’ve been a student of French since I was 14? Could it be because of my self-perception? Like Paris, I am serious much of the time but my creativity and sense of humor comes out once you get to know me.
In my oh-so-boho days in and after college, I preferred to stay in artsy Montmartre. Montmartre is still a popular and fun place to stay, but after discovering Le Marais, I don’t think I’ll ever stay in another neighborhood (I say this now, but follow up with me in 10 years).
Located in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements (northeast of city center) this neighborhood is walkable to the city center, but lots of métro stops link you to the whole city and beyond.
There are lots of attractions in Le Marais, some famous and some not-so-famous. If you love modern art, being able to see the colorful exterior of the Centre Pompidou several times a day will be sure to make you smile. Spending a half-day or full day in the museum, you’ll find art from Kandinsky to Yoko Ono. The rotating special exhibits will never be the same twice and are a must-see.
The neighborhood is filled with galleries and smaller more focused museums. If you like art and history, I highly recommend getting the Paris Museum Pass because paying entry into many small museums, on top of the big three (Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, Pompidou) will add up quickly. NOTE: This is the Paris Museum Pass, not the Paris Pass which is more commercial and touristy.
Another great stop would be the Musée Picasso, which focuses on the works of the painter and sculptor. As much as I love large, all-day types of museums, I also really enjoy smaller, more focused museums that provide a deeper insight into an artist or topic in particular.
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When looking for a place to stay, you’ll find out that it’s not a cheap city to visit. In Le Marais you’ll find nightly prices slightly lower than the city center. You can get cheaper lodging farther outward, but considering the price, with the location, you’ll maximize your money and save time you’ll otherwise spend walking or in the metro.
Paris’s lovely architecture is recognized by the cream or white colored facades and darker metal roofs. You’ll see this through the city, including Le Marais, but you’ll also see some of the older parts of the city that weren’t demolished by Napoleon’s army (you’ll find a brief explanation of that here).
You’ll find lots of typical French brasseries and bread shops, but also modern trendy restaurants like Cantine California and even craft beer bars like Bar Demory. Interestingly, you’ll also encounter a lot of Jewish restaurants and bakeries (this is a historically Jewish neighborhood) and a lot of Chinese restaurants due to a concentration of the minority in this area as well.
If you want to feeling of actually living in France, and not just passing through, I totally recommend an Airbnb in this area over a hotel elsewhere in the city.
Have you ever visited Paris? Where’d you stay? Do you have a favorite neighborhood in one of the world’s great cities?
This post was not sponsored by Airbnb, but if you sign up, you and I both get a travel credit. All photos by Staci Jackson for The Voyageer.