Friday 20 May 2011

Marais, Paris - Je t'adore.

The UNESCO classified district of Le Marais, in Paris, sits on a small triangular piece of land, with side lengths of a couple of kilometres, extending from Place de l’Hôtel de Ville to Place de la Bastille, and the Place de la République . For many, it is “the heart of Paris”, encompassing the River Seine islands of  Ile de St Louis and Ile de Citie, ( the original site of Paris), with its iconic Notre Dame Cathedral. 

This small area, christened Le Marais,  is renowned for its numerous, beautiful, historical buildings, fine food, shops, galleries, museums and colourful lifestyle. Despite its humble beginnings as a drained swamp in the 13th century, Le Marais developed into Paris’s fashionable centre by the 17 century with the construction of buildings designed by leading sculptors and architects, who had a penchant for gated courtyards.

Guidebooks will take you to the countless, historical treasures of Le Marais, but for me, much of its appeal lies in just meandering its streets. 

Oui, nous sommes les flâneurs – senendipity has great appeal, especially when it involves food or a camera. 
The concentration of narrow roads and laneways in Le Marais – a legacy of its past - creates an atmosphere of intimacy and causes the light  to cast interesting patterns over its quintessential Parisian roof tops.

One of the most breathtaking sights in Paris is the beautiful St Chapelle with its proliferation of stunning,stained-glass windows. The building of this chapel commenced in 1241, with the sole purpose to house the crown of thorns from Christ’s Passion. The predominant beauty of St Chapelle lies in the upper chapel, the entry of which can be easily missed. 

My favourite view across the Parisian rooftops is from the top of the west façade of Notre Dame - the 350+ steps are worth the climb!

If you wish to locate the best chocolate, pastry or ice-cream shops when strolling through the Marais, or the rest of Paris, visit Choco Paris         
Oui, Le Marais, je t'adore....................