Bastille / Le Marais Walk

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Welcome to the Bastille and Marais Walk. The walk starts at the Place de la Bastille at the Bastille metro stop on line 1. From the métro platform, take the rue Saint-Antoine exit. Be careful not to confuse this exit with the exit for rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Once you've exited the metro, turn to look at the column in the center of the square and the opera behind it.

Le Marais and Bastille Walk

1. Place de la Bastille
Place de la Bastille
place de la Bastille. Though we cannot see the prison that was stormed on July 14, 1789 by revolutionaries in search of weapons, the place has maintained its revolutionary appeal today. Public demonstrations and protests often include the Bastille on their itineraries. Political, social, and union demonstrations share this place with a calendar of activities which range from open air concerts to antique shows to parades. Every Sunday the place is the meeting and departure point to visit Paris by rollerblade. The Colonne de Juillet and its golden 'Genius of Liberty' statue stands in the center of the place as a memorial to those who died in battle in the streets of Paris in July 1830. Their actions marked the beginning of the fall of Charles X. The bronze column and statue rises 170 ft. (51.5 m) into the Parisian sky. If your camera lens doesn't get you close enough to Mr. Liberty, he is also on display in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre museum.
The next stop on the Marais and Bastille walk is the Opéra Bastille. From your current position, look for the glass and metal opera house across the place de la Bastille.
2. Opéra Bastille
Opéra Bastille
120, rue de Lyon. The Opéra Bastille lends a modern touch to the place de la Bastille.François Mitterand's Paris. The Bastille Opera house is one of several of President François Mitterand's 'Grands projets' along with the Pyramid of the Louvre, the Arche de la Défense, and the National Library (Bibliothèque Nationale de France). Carlos Ott's modern Opéra welcomes 3390 audience members in three performance spaces, all enclosed in gridded glass and slabs of granite.
The next stop is the view of the place des Vosges from the rue de Birague. With the Opera behind you, begin walking down rue Saint-Antoine. You're moving towards the heart of the Marais.
3. Rue de Birague
Rue de Birague
rue de Birague. Crossing the rue de Birague, you'll catch a glimpse of one of the four street entrances to the Place des Vosges, easily recognizable by its stone arches and warm, brick walls.
The next stop is the Hôtel de Sully. Keep trotting along rue Saint-Antoine until you come to the Hôtel Sully at 62, rue Saint-Antoine, and enter the building.
4. Hôtel de Sully
Hôtel de Sully
62, rue Saint-Antoine. Built between 1625 and 1630, this Renaissance mansion was acquired in 1634 by the Duc de Sully, a minister to Henry IV. Today the Hôtel de Sully houses the Centre des Monuments Nationaux (Center for National Monuments) as well as a bookstore which sells literature on these monuments and museums. Note the Sphinxes flanking the entrance to the courtyard. A short walk through the hallway will bring you to the courtyard and its garden, with statues of the four seasons, and Orangerie. The doors and doorways of Paris conceal treasures, and the Hôtel de Sully is no exception.
The next stop on the Marais and Bastille walk is Place des Vosges.Go through the door in the northeast corner of the courtyard (in front of you and to your right), and you'll find yourself at number 7, in the enchanting Place des Vosges.
5. Place des Vosges
Place des Vosges
place des Vosges. The architects of the Place des Vosges achieved structural and visual unity here by designing symmetrical houses, nine on each side, which blend stone arches with warm, red bricks and navy blue slate. Henri IV, who ordered the construction of the place would be pleased to see that Paris's oldest square radiates beauty and harmony. Stroll under the arches and enjoy the art galleries, cafés, and restaurants. The Place des Vosges had its share of famous residents, notably Victor Hugo, the French poet, dramatist, and novelist who lived at 6 place des Vosges from 1832 to 1848. Spend some time in the center of the square, observing the Parisians go about their lives. You'll no doubt see children with their casually sophisticated parents playing in sandboxes, people having a rest, intellectuals reading beneath on shady benches, friends chatting...why not be a Parisian and rest those tired feet?
The next stop is the rue des Francs Bourgeois and the courtyard of the Musée Carnavalet on rue des Francs Bourgeois. From the center of the places des Vosges walk to the northwest corner of the Place des Vosges and turn left onto rue des Francs Bourgeois.
6. Rue des Francs Bourgeois
Rue des Francs Bourgeois
rue des Francs Bourgeois. Walking along the rue des Francs Bourgeois, keep your eyes peeled for telltale signs that this is a medieval street. To start with, this street got its name from an almshouse for the poor Bourgeois built in the 14th century. Gazing at the elegant boutiques and well-dressed residents, clearly times have changed this street. It is one of the longest streets in the Marais, and streets perpendicular to the rue des Francs Bourgeois showcase beautiful converted mansions such as the Cognacq-Jay museum on nearby rue Elzévir, or the Picasso museum on rue de Thorigny.
The walk continues in the courtyard of the Carnavalet Museum. The Carnavalet museum occupies the Carnavalet mansion on the corner of rue des Francs Bourgeois and rue de Sévigné. Keep going straight on rue des Francs Bourgeois and stop at the gated courtyard at 16, rue des Francs Bourgeois.
7. Hôtel Carnavalet
Hôtel Carnavalet
16, rue des Francs Bourgeois. This remarkable Renaissance mansion was built in the 2nd half of the 16th century for Jacques de Ligneris, the then President of Parliament of Paris.Today the hôtel houses a collection of paintings, objects, decorative antiques, and other objects which trace the history of Paris from pre-Roman times to the 20th century. Not to be missed are the two rooms decorated with Art-Nouveau objects.
The next stop on the Marais and Bastille walk is the Hôtel d'Angoûleme Lamoignon. Continue on rue des Francs Bourgeois and take the first left onto rue Pavée. Enter the courtyard at 24, rue Pavée.
8. Hôtel de Lamoignon - Library of the history of Paris
Hôtel de Lamoignon -  Library of the history of Paris
24, rue Pavée. This Renaissance mansion with its odd square turret was built in 1594 for Diane de France, the illegitimate daughter of Henri II. Sold to the Lamoignon family in the mid-17th century, the mansion hosted many literary salons with Racine and Madame de Sévigné, among others, in attendance. It now houses the library of the history of Paris.
The walk continues on rue des Rosiers. Turn left out of the Hôtel de Lamoignon and continue down rue Pavée until you reach rue des Rosiers. Turn right onto rue des Rosiers.
9. Rue des Rosiers
Rue des Rosiers
rue des Rosiers. The rue des Rosiers is a picturesque street in the heart of the Jewish quarter with its Jewish bookstores, delis, bakeries, shops. This street dates from the 13th century, when it ran along the walls built to protect the Paris of Philippe Auguste, and its name comes from the roses which grew against these ramparts. Enjoy a stroll down this street, which is now exclusively reserved for pedestrians.
The walk continues at the former Goldenberg restaurant. Continue along rue des Rosiers until you reach number 7.
10. Goldenberg restaurant
Goldenberg restaurant
7, rue des Rosiers. Though the restaurant has closed, it is still a place of remembrance. On August 9, 1982, a bomb exploded in front of the restaurant, killing 6 people and wounding 22 others. This anti-Semitic act sent shockwaves through France.
The next stop on the Marais and Bastille walk is Murciano Benguigui's bakery at 16, rue des Rosiers.
11. Murciano Benguigui's Bakery
Murciano Benguigui's Bakery
16, rue des Rosiers. Mouthwatering apple strudel, challah (plain, with raisins or with poppy seeds), Central European and Israeli specialities combine to make this one of the best Jewish bakeries on the block. You'll also find French golden oldies like croissants and pain au chocolat.
The walk continues at L'As du Falafel. Continue along rue des Rosiers to L'as du Falafel at 34, rue des Rosiers.
12. L'As du Falafel restaurant
L'As du Falafel restaurant
34, rue des Rosiers. This restaurant is an institution, serving up the best deep-fried falafel balls made of fried chickpeas and herbs in Paris. The falafel is a traveler, originating in Egypt and spreading to other Middle Eastern countries where it is a popular street food. For around 5 euros, one gets a pocketful of these chickpea fritters which are served the Israeli way, in a pita bread with veggies and a piquant sauce. Through the kitchen window you'll see cooks working at a breakneck pace assembling orders to satisfy the never ending demand.
The walk continues on rue Vieille-du-Temple. At the end of rue des Rosiers turn right onto rue Vieille-du-Temple.
13. Rue Vieille-du-Temple and the Hôtel des Ambassadeurs de Hollande
Rue Vieille-du-Temple and the Hôtel des Ambassadeurs de Hollande
rue Vieille-du-Temple. This street got its name in 1270, from the fact that the street began not far from the first establishment of the Knights Templar in Paris. Today you'll find trendy cafés, restaurants, and shops most of them openly gay-friendly. Take a moment to pause next to the Olivier and Co shop at 47, rue Vielle-du-Temple. It would be easy to pass by without any appreciation of what lies behind the boutique and the massive wooden doors flanking the main entrance next door. If we could open these doors, we would see the courtyards, buildings, and ornate decorations of the Hôtel des Ambassadeurs de Hollande.The story of this magnificent mansion began in 1395, when historical records mention the residence of Messire Jean de Rieux, a valiant captain of Charles V and Charles VI. Caron Beaumarchais wrote The Mariage of Figaro here in 1778. We can at least view the sculptures by Renaudin above the door and admire the massive locks. The property managers have recently announced that the Hotel des Ambassadeurs will soon have a different function. For the moment GoogleEarth is the best way to have a look inside!
The next stop on the Marais and Bastille walk is the Hôtel de Soubise. Turn left onto rue des Francs Bourgeois and enter the courtyard of the Hôtel de Soubise at number 60.
14. L'Hôtel Soubise and l'Hôtel de Clisson
L'Hôtel Soubise and l'Hôtel de Clisson
60, rue des Francs-Bourgeois. This beautiful mansion is home to the National Archives, and many historic documents can be viewed: the Edict of Nantes, the treaty of Westphalia, and the last letters of Marie Antoinette. Construction ended in 1709, and the hôtel has changed little since. The 18th-century rooms and decorations are exceptional. In the northwest corner of the courtyard we get a glimpse of the turrets of the Hôtel de Clisson, built in 1380. The mansion belonged to Henri Ier de Lorraine, Duc de Guise in the 16th century. The Duc de Guise is known for being one of the main instigators of the Saint Bartholomew's Day massacre perpetrated against the Protestants which began the night of August 25, 1572. The slaughter took the lives of 2000 protestants in Paris, roughly 2 % of the city's population at the time. Today the property is part of the National Archives and is unfortunately not open to public visits. To get a close up of the turrets, turn right out of the Hôtel de Soubise and turn right onto the rue des Archives until you reach the turrets at number 58.
The walk continues at the medieval cloister of the Carmes-Billettes convent. Turn around and head in the opposite direction along rue des Archives. Walk to 22-26 rue des Archives.
15. Cloister of les Billettes
Cloister of les Billettes
22-26, rue des Archives. Take a peek at the only remaining medieval cloister in Paris dating from 1427. Admire the vaulted arches and temporary exhibitions.
The walk continues at the Hôtel de Ville. Continue south on rue des Archives and cross the busy rue de Rivoli. The back of the Hôtel de Ville is on your right.
16. Hôtel de Ville
Hôtel de Ville
. This majestic structure is the city hall of Paris, and has been at the center of municipal affairs since 1357. The square in front of the building, once known as the place des Grèves, has been the rallying point for revolutionaries, insurgents, and demonstrators. Today visitors can walk through several salons and enjoy the free temporary exhibits sponsored by the Mairie. Do walk around the building to enjoy the facade and square.
The next stop on the Marais and Bastille walk, the St-Gervais St-Protais church, which is further down rue Lobau on your left. If you're in front of the Hôtel de Ville, continue around the building to get to rue Lobau. Continue walking along rue Lobau and turn into place St-Gervais and head to the church.
17. St-Gervais-St-Protais church
St-Gervais-St-Protais church
place St-Gervais. This church is the oldest parish in Paris, historians trace it back to the 6th century. Construction on the current structure dates from 1494, and the façade is notable for its Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns.
The next stop on the walk is rue des Barres. Exiting the church, turn right onto rue François Miron. Then turn right on rue des Barres.
18. Rue des Barres
Rue des Barres
rue des Barres. This quiet passage bathes in the shadows from to the St-Gervais St-Protais church. As you walk down the cobbled passage, notice the medieval building at the corner of of rue du Grenier sur l'eau.
The walk continues at the L'Ebouillanté café. Continue down rue des Barres to 6, rue des Barres.
19. L'Ebouillanté restaurant and salon de thé
L'Ebouillanté restaurant and salon de thé
6, rue des Barres. Arguably one of the best places in Paris to soak up a medieval atmosphere in peace, this café - salon de thé - restaurant has a lovely outdoor terrasse that is sheltered from the hustle and bustle of Paris. One of the owners, a painter, frequently organizes exhibitions inside the restaurant on the 1st floor.
The walk continues on the Allée des Justes. Head back up rue des Barres and turn right onto the tiny rue du Grenier sur l'eau. Continue straight on until you reach the wall of the Justes de France, which will be on your right.
20. Allée des Justes
Allée des Justes
Allée des Justes. The right wall of this passage encloses the Memorial of the unknown Jewish Martyr of the Holocaust (Mémorial du Juif Inconnu) and the Musée de la Shoah (Holocaust museum). Bronze plaques display the names and towns of 2693 French citizens who refused to remain passive as Jews were deported from France during the Second World War. These people forged fake identification papers, hid Jews on their property, helped Jews escape into the free zone, amongst other clandestine activities which defied the Vichy government. For their acts of bravery, they are known as the Justes, or the Righteous, of France.
The next stop on the Marais and Bastille walk is the Memorial of the Unknown Jewish Holocaust Martyr and the Memorial of the Shoah. At the end of the Allée des Justes, turn right onto rue Géoffroy l'Asnier.
21. Memorial of the Unknown Jewish Holocaust Martyr and the Memorial of the Shoah
Memorial of the Unknown Jewish Holocaust Martyr and the Memorial of the Shoah
17, rue Géoffroy l'Asnier. A memorial and a research center, this Shoah Memorial is a place for remembrance and for education and transmission of the lessons of the Shoah. The Shoah Memorial is a resource center that has the largest collection of archives on the Holocaust in Europe.
The walk continues at the medieval homes of rue François Miron. Leaving the Memorial of the Shoah, turn left and walk up rue Géoffroy l'Asnier. At the corner of rue François Miron, stop to admire the medieval homes at 11 and 13, across the street to your left.
22. Medieval homes
Medieval homes
13, rue François Miron. These rare medieval residences with their half-timbered walls date from the 14th century. The timbers give the viewer insight into the structural components of these buildings, which seem to bulge dangerously on rue Cloche Perce.
The walk continues in the garden of the Hôtel de Sens. Walk back along rue François Miron, passing rue Géoffrey l'Asnier and bear right onto rue de Jouy. Walk to the end of the street and take a right onto rue des Nonnains d'Hyères. Walk to the garden of the Hôtel de Sens which will be across the street on your left.
23. Garden of the Hôtel de Sens
Garden of the Hôtel de Sens
7, rue des Nonnains d'Hyères. This square, slightly sunken garden is one of the many jewels of the Marais. Admire the sculpted shrubs which surround seasonal flowers and form geometric patterns interrupted here and there by gravel pathways. A bit reminiscent of certain gardens designed by André Le Nôtre, the landscapte architect behind the gardens of Versailles and Vaux-le-Vicomte. M. Le Nôtre is known as the creator of the jardin à la française with its geometric flowerbeds, fountains, and canals. Grab a bench and enjoy a rest with some of the residents of the Marais.
The next stop on the Marais and Bastille walk is the Hôtel de Sens. Exit the sunken garden and walk down the path to your right. Go through the green gate next to the medieval Hôtel de Sens and turn right onto rue du Figuier. At the end of this short street turn right and peek into the courtyard of the Hôtel de Sens.
24. Hôtel de Sens
Hôtel de Sens
1, rue du Figuier. One of the only private residences remaining from the Middle Ages in Paris, this mansion was built between 1474 and 1519 for the archbishop of Sens. Admire the unusual gothic and renaissance architecture and remember that this was once home to Marguerite de Valois (1553-1615), the wild ex-wife of Henry IV, whose favorite hobby was collecting lovers. Today the building houses a collection of books!
The walk continues at the Wall of Philippe Auguste. With the Hôtel de Sens behind you, cross the street and pause in the Jardin Marie Trintingiant for a good view of the Hôtel de Sens, then go straight down rue de l'Avé Maria. Turn left onto rue des Jardins Saint-Paul.
25. Wall of Philippe Auguste
Wall of Philippe Auguste
rue des Jardins Saint-Paul. If we look closely at the wall next to the basketball courts, we can make out sections of the imposing fortifications built by Philippe Auguste between 1190 and 1220. This wall protected Paris, and had all the attributes of medieval fortifications : battlements with parapets, massive fortified doors, and round lookout towers. We can see the remains of two lookout towers.
The next stop on the Marais and Bastille walk is the Village Saint-Paul. Follow signs to the Village St. Paul and take the entrance at 10, 12, 14 rue des Jardins Saint-Paul.
26. Saint-Paul Village of Antique shops
Saint-Paul Village of Antique shops
14, rue des Jardins Saint-Paul. Charming cobbled courtyards welcome over 100 antique dealers, decorative art stores, art galeries, merchants, and shops. This village is completely isolated from the traffic and noise of Paris. It is an up and coming area where young designers and artists have been encouraged by the Mairie (city hall of the 4th quarter) to develop their works.
You've reached the end of the walk! One of the closest métros is St-Paul Le Marais on line 1 of the metro. Exit the Village St. Paul and turn left onto rue St. Paul. If you feel like a snack, the American grocery store and restaurant Thanksgiving is just across the street. Otherwise continue walking and turn left on the rue Saint-Antoine. The métro St-Paul Le Marais is a 2-minute walk.
Distance: 3.5km
Estimated duration: 3.5h
Beginning of the walk: Place de la Bastille
End of the walk: Saint-Paul Village of Antique shops