Le Marais Walking Tour

A Le Marais Walking tour by a licensed private tour guide from 130 € for two people. Le Marais was the royal district of Paris from the end of the Dark Ages to the Renaissance. Nowadays, it is a unique open-air museum. But Le Marais is far from being only that; it is also one of the most lively districts of Paris, famous for its concept stores and trendy shops, its bars and restaurants, as for its nightlife.

Photo of Place des Vosges to illustrate Le Marais private tour, Paris, France.

The Place des Vosges, formerly one of Paris Royal Square. Nowadays, it is one of the most romantic places in Paris.

Le Marais Walking Tour in a Nutshell

From 130 € for 1 to 2 people + 25 € per extra person 

  • Guided tour in English available in 2 durations: +/- 2-hour or 3-hour.
  • Genuine private tour = your party only (6 people max.)
  • +/- 3 km to 4 km distance covered
  • Postgraduate (MPhil) certified French national guide
  • Flexible schedule – 7/7 if available

KNOW MORE / BOOK NOW

What’s in the tours?

Sacred Architecture

16th C French Renaissance

17th C French Baroque

Middle-Age Paris

Civil Architecture

Highlights

Paris Medieval City Wall

Baroque & Gothique Churches

Half Timbered Houses

Pletzl (Jewish District)

Village Saint-Paul

Hôtel de Sully Mansion 

Place-des-Vosges Royal Square

Hôtel-de-Sens Mansion

Your Private Tour Guide in Paris

Certified French national guide
BA, Magna Cum Laude, Heritage Developpement & Preservation from Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers
Postgraduate from Paris Dauphine-PSL University

Know more about Yves, your private tour guide in Paris

Why is the Marais worth a visit?

The Marais is a very special district as it was very little impacted by the transformation of Paris in the 19th century.

Apart from the beginning of the rue de Rivoli, there is no Haussmanien boulevard there.

The result is that most of the exceptional architectural heritage of Le Marais has been preserved; indeed, this district was the center of the monarchy’s life in Paris from the end of the Dark Age to the Renaissance.

The Marais is now an exceptional open-air Museum full of prestigious private mansions of the Renaissance and the beginning of the Baroque period. Some impressive medieval remains, as most of the very few timber houses of Paris, can also be seen there.

But what makes the Marais very special is that it is very far from only an amazing open-air museum.

The Marais is one of the most living districts of Paris, the most trendy one. it is one of the best place of Paris for shooping from fashion to vintage, a lot of concept-stores are installed there. Foodies will also appreciate Le Marais for its specialty shops, from bakeries to cheesemongers, and its traditional markets, without forgetting all its bars and restaurants. The Marais is also well known for its nightlife; this is the perfect place to go out. The Marais is also the historical district of the LGBT community.

Last Le Marais also houses many museums of Paris: Center Pompidou (Moderne and contemporary art, from Picasso to Pollock), Musée Picasso, Musée Carnavalet (historical museum of Paris), Maison de Victor Hugo, Musée Cognac-Jay (18th Century Atmosphere and French Paintings), Musée d’art et d’histoire du judaïsme, Maison Européenne de la photographie (European center for contemporary photographic art) Museum of Magic and Automata.

Why to follow a Marais Walking Tour with us?

Yves, the Broaden-horizons tour guide in Paris, Knows the Marais very well as he has lived there for more than 15 years. Yves is at home there, so if you want a le Marais walking tour better choose us.

The 2-hour Marais Walking Tour

Middle Ages

Civil Middle Ages remains are pretty rare in Paris. Some of the most impressive ones are in the Marais.

During your Marais Walking Tour, you will discover the biggest remaining portion of the Paris city wall of the 1200s. The Wall was commissioned by the King of France, Philipe Augustus, before leaving for the third crusade to protect Paris from any attack of the English of Richard Lionheart.

The Hôtel de Sens was built in a flamboyant gothic at the end of the 15th century.

Some of the very few remaining Paris timber houses (15th century).

Photo of Hôtel de Sens rare civil gothic structure in Paris to illustrate Le Marais Walking Tour, Paris, France.

The Hôtel de Sens is a very rare civil gothic structure in Paris. In the foreground, the mansion’s formal French garden, orned with box trees, is open to the public. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

Photo of hôtel Maubuisson timber house to illustrate Le Marais Walking Tour, Paris, France.

Hôtel Maubuisson is one of the very rare timber houses in Paris. Nowadays, it is a nice and affordable young hostel. It was previously the city house of the Maubuisson Abbey (founded in A.D. 1236 by Blanche of Castille, Queen of France, mother of Saint-Louis). Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

An Amazing 16th & 17th centuries Heritage

Le Marais is nothing less and nothing more than the Parisian district of the Renaissance (16th C.) and the French “Grand Siècle” (17th C.). A lot of prestigious “hôtels particuliers” (private mansions) of the era can still be seen:
  • Hôtel d’Aumont
  • Hôtel de Beauvais
  • Hôtel Hénault de Cantobre
  • Hôtel Carnavalet
  • Hôtel d’Angoulème Lamoignon
  • Hôtel de Chalon Luxembourg
  • Hôtel de Sully, etc.

The Hôtel d’Angoulème Lamoignon was completed in 1586 for the Duchess of Angoulême, the legitimized daughter of Henry II of France. The mansion is an exceptional witness of the French Renaissance. It is now the historical library of the city of Paris.

Hôtel d'Angoulême Lamoignon which is now the Historical Library of the city of Paris

The Hôtel d’Angoulème Lamoignon which is now the historical library of the city of Paris. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

Built in 1706, the Hôtel Hénault de Cantobre is now a European center for contemporary photographic art. It houses an exhibition center, an extensive library, and other facilities.

Hôtel Hénault de Cantobre, "Maison Européenne de la photographie" a 18 century building which is now a Museum, the European house of Photography.

Hôtel Hénault de Cantobre, Maison Européenne de la Photographie. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

Hôtel de Sully is the most famous and prestigious mansion of the Marais. It is named after its most prestigious owner, the Duc of Sully, who was King Henry IV’s main minister at the end of the Renaissance period.

It is a reference for the private mansions architectural design “entre cour et Jardin” (between courtyard and garden) that appeared in Paris in the 16th century.

On the courtyard side, you can admire the early 17th-century facade, ornate with mannerist haut relief sculpture.

On the garden side, is a French formal garden with boxtrees ended by an amazing orangerie. 

Nowadays, the hôtel serves as a passage from rue Saint-Antoine (courtyard side) and place des Vosges (garden side); it is also the headquarters of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux (French for “National Monuments Center”).

Facade of the hôtel de Sully is probably the most famous and prestigious one in Le Marais.

Photo, the courtyard facade of Hôtel de Sully. Built between 1625 and 1630, hôtel de Sully is still notably mannerist in the style of the end of the Renaissance. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

Hôtel de Sully - Orangerie and Garden - Le Marais, Paris

Photo, the Orangerie and the French garden of the Hôtel de Sully. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

Place des Vosges: The oldest square of Paris

King Henry IV of France commissioned the square at the end of the Renaissance. However, as Henry IV was assassinated in 1610, his son Louis XIII finally inaugurated it in 1612.

Place des Vosges is one of Paris’s five royal squares, along with Place Dauphine, Place de la Concorde, Place des Victoires, and Place Vendôme. The Place Royale was renamed Place des Vosges in 1792 during the French Revolution.

This is one of the nicest places in Paris, and, with île Saint-Louis, it is one of the most expensive in terms of real estate.

Here is the museum Maison Victor Hugo, the famous French novelist, lived there from October 1832 to July 1848.

There is a long list of famous ones who lived in Place des Vosges; among them
at number 11, from 1639 to 1648, Marion de L’Orme, well known for having been the Mistress of the Duc of Buckingham and also of the Cardinal de Richelieu. Place des Vosges is a time machine that brings you back directly to the time of D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers!

Place des Vosges the most charming and oldest royal square of Paris.

Place des Vosges, formerly Place Royale, was inaugurated by Louis XIII in 1612. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

The Hôtel de Ville de Paris (City Hall)

A reference in Paris’s history from the Middle Ages to WWII.

In front of the hôtel de Ville is the place de l’hôtel de Ville. Before 1802 and from the early Middle Ages, it was called the Place de Grève (The French word grève refers to the shores or banks of a body of water). There in the Middle Ages was the Port of Paris; it was also the place of most public executions with the gallows and the pillory.

The Place de Grève saw the first use of the guillotine.

In the Middle Ages, the “city hall” was called the “Maison aux Piliers” (House of Pillars). In 1533, King Francis I ordered the construction of a new Modern Renaissance city hall. Heavily damaged during the “Commune de Paris” (1871), it was rebuilt from 1873 to 1892.

Photo of Hôtel de Ville de Paris (City Hall) to illustrate the Le Marais Walking Tour, Paris, France.

Photo: The Hôtel de Ville de Paris. It is one of the most critical historical milestones of Paris. It was intensely damaged during the Commune de Paris Revolution and rebuilt as close as possible to the original Renaissance Building. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

Two of the most attaching and architecturally essential churches of Paris

Saint-Protais Saint-Gervais church (15th to 17th centuries). The church was first built in a flamboyant Gothic, but after an interruption of the work, the facade built between 1616 and 1620 introduced an entirely new classical style, which opened the way for the French Baroque.

The Chapel of the Virgin has some of the oldest stained glass windows in the flamboyant gothic style (1517), and one, made in 1533,  “The Judgement of Solomon” in the colorful Renaissance style.

Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais is a lively church, as it has been (since 1975) the headquarters of the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem.

Photo of the white flamboyant gothic choir of Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais church, le Marais, Paris, France.

White flamboyant gothic choir of Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

Photo of the white flamboyant gothic choir of Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais church, le Marais, Paris, France.

The Chapel of the Virgin with its amazing 16th Century Flamboyant gothic and Renaissance stain glasses. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons

Saint-Paul Saint-Louis church (17th century). Built for the Jesuit architect Étienne Martellange, it was the first church in Paris to break away entirely from the Gothic style and use the Jesuits’ new Baroque style. It is obviously a typical counter-reformation church with interior decoration directly inspired by the Church of the Gesù in Rome. The first mass was said by Cardinal de Richelieu, main Minister of King Louis the XIII, on Mai 9th, 1641, 1.5 years before his death.

A living district

Rue Saint-Antoine, the former main entrance of Paris, is not only full of history from Ancient Rome to the French Revolution; it is also full of traditional French shops (food stores, cheesemonger, patisserie, butcher’s shop, and delicatessen, etc. ) mostly around “Place Saint-Paul.”

Saint-Paul - Le Marais - Paris

Métro Saint-Paul in place Saint-Paul with its famous carousel. This is the earth of Le Marais district. Credit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

In the north, just beside Place Saint-Paul, is the Pletzl (the historical Jewish district of Paris). Pletzl in Yiddish means “little place”, this is in reference to place Saint-Paul (the little place) and in opposition to place des Vosges (the big Royale square). The Pletzl is the ideal place to test spicy Jewish food as the traditional bagels.

Photo of the Jardin des Rosiers to illustrate Le Marais private tour, Paris, France.

Photo, Jardin des Rosiers with some remains of the wall of Paris (built around 1200). The garden entrance is rue des Rosiers in the Pletz. The most impressive remains of the wall after those of the Village Saint Paul. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

Rue des Francs Bourgeois is famous for its independent boutiques, fancy & trendy shops, and concept stores.

And, for those you want to escape to the crowd of rue des Francs Bourgeois there is the stunning Village Saint-Paul. A “secret village” in the earth of Le Marais which is famous for its antique dealers, vintage shops and very few terrasses protected from the noise of the street.

Photo of the Village Saint Paul in Paris le Marais.

Photo: Village Saint-Paul is a fantastic village-like quiet place in the earth of Paris. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

The Marais is also full of bars and restaurants.

Some of them are even installed directly on the Seine riverside, which is now very popular since the former Seine River fast lane has been transformed into a strolling place for pedestrians and bicycles in the Le Marais area.

Photo of the terrace of a restaurant on the Seine riverbanks to illustrate the Marais Walking Tour in Paris.

Photo: Terrace of a restaurant on the Seine riverbanks in le Marais. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

Le Marais walking Tour Extended (3-hours)

The Marais Walking Tour Extended proposes one extra hour walk. This extra hour is normally dedicated to discovered northern parts of the Marais, where there are a lot of prestigious 16th to 18th Centuries mansions,

  • Hôtel Carnavalet
  • Hôtel de Soubise
  • Hôtel d’Albret
  • Hôtel de Châtillon
  • Hôtel Aubert de Fontenay (hôtel Salé) – musée Picasso
  • Hôtel de Marle – Institut Tessin, also known as the Centre culturel suédois

We don’t enter the mansions (“hôtel particuliers“); nevertheless, we walk a little in their yards or gardens when possible.

Photo the Hôtel de Chatillon to illustrate the Le Marais private tour, Paris, France.

Hôtel de Châtillon, Marais, Paris. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

Hôtel Aubert de Fontenay (hôtel Salé) – musée Picasso. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

The extra time of the Marais extended tour can also be dedicated to going deeper into some themes or places of the tour or to walk further discovering some hidden gems of the Marais, such as, for example, the gardens of the hôtel de Soubise.

Photo of the Archives Nationales Public Garden to illustrate the Marais Private Tour in Paris.

The garden of the hôtel de Soubise. Crédit Photo Broaden-Horizons.

We can also focus on some gourmet oriented hidden gems of the Marais, as the patisserie “Aux Merveilleux” which specialised in Merveilleux a magnificente French pastry or the Méert boutique, a maison famous for its waffles since 1677.

Photo of the patisserie shop aux merveilleux in Paris le Marais district.

Aux merveilleux, famous patisserie shoop. The Merveilleux is an amazing patisserie from Lille (north of France). Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

Photo Méert boutique to illustrate the Marais Private Tour.

Boutique Méert, Marais, Paris. Credit photo Broaden-Horizons.

If French food and traditions are really an important matter for you, we can even end the tour at the famous Marché des Enfants Rouges, the oldest food market in Paris, dating back to 1615.

The Other Marais Tour: With departure from Notre Dame passing by île Saint-Louis

The other way to visit Le Marais is to start from the Notre-Dame Area, cross Île Saint-Louis, and finally reach the former Royal Square of Place des Vosges.
The tour is called the Notre-Dame to le Marais Walking Tour. It has two tour versions: the regular 2-hour and the 3-hour extended.

Notre-Dame to Le Marais Walking Tour (2-hour)

The tour includes exterior comments of Notre Dame, and then we cross the bridge from île de la Cité to Iles Saint-Louis and then to the right bank of the Seine. Saint-Louis. It’s one of the nicest strolls in Paris, if not the nicest. Then we walk to Place des Vosges, passing beside some of the most important monuments of the Marais (Hôtel de Sens, City Wall of Philippe Augustus, etc.).

Even if île Saint Louis is considered an extension of the Marais (this is historically the case), this tour only gives a first approach to the Marais.

Nevertheless, it is probably one of the best tours for a first-timer in Paris.

See / book our Notre-Dame to Le Marais Tour (2-hour)

Photo Notre-Dame, Ile de la Cité, Ile Saint Louis, to illustrate the Notre-Dame to Marais Guided Tour in Paris, France.

View of Notre-Dame on île de la Cité, with île Saint-Louis on the right.

Notre-Dame to Le Marais Extended Tour (3-hour)

The 3-hour version of the Marais Walking Tour brings an extra hour, giving the tour much flexibility. The tour can be oriented in three ways, depending on the customer’s desires, previous knowledge of Paris, etc.

1. Dedicate the extra hour to globally take more time to do the whole tour.

2. Dedicate the extra hour to the Marais (right bank) to include a real Marais tour (See Marais 2-hour tour description)

3. Dedicate the extra hour to focus more on île Saint-Louis.

Photo of a café in the south part of Le Marais to illustrate Le Marais private tour, Paris, France.

A café close to the quay of the Seine River in the south part of Le Marais. Its 1900s hundred facade is listed. In the background, Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais church. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

Focus on île Saint-Louis

Urbanized in the 17th century, the island is full of prestigious “hôtel particuliers” on the bank of the river; it is traditionally the most expensive district of Paris.

Many famous people lived there, for example, Sculptor Camille Claudel (see our Rodin museum tour), former French president Georges Pompidou, and famous French baroque painter Philippe de Champaigne (See our 17th Century French painting Louvre tour).

île Saint-Louis is also famous for its Salon de thé, glacier Bertillon, known for decades for making the best ice creams and sorbets in Paris.

Photo of Quay of the Seine River with Pont Marie in the background  in south Marais, Paris, France.

Ile Saint-Louis and Pont-Marie. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

The Paris full day tour with a Le Marais walk included

Another way to visit Le Marais is to follow the Paris “Full-day” Tour version 2, which includes a Louvre Evening Tour and a Le Marais walk.

This tour is designed for those who come to Paris for the first time and want to discover the heart of Paris and its history and see the Louvre Museum in only one day.

This tour, which ends with a 2-hour Louvre evening tour, also includes:

  • A quartier Latin walk with the Panthéon, the Luxembourg Garden and Palace, and the Ancient Roman Baths of Lutecia (Paris name during Ancient Rome).
  • An Ile de la cite walk: with the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Sainte-Chapelle.
  • A le Marais Walking Tour with its medieval, Renaissance, and French Baroque heritage.
Photo of the Sainte-Chapelle on Île de la Cité, to illustrate the Paris "full-day" tour with Louvre evening tour included.

View of the Sainte-Chapelle. Crédit photo: Broaden-Horizons.

More about The Marais Guided Tours

This is a list of all the possible subjects we may speak about during the tours. What we speak about exactly depends on the tour we do and the options we take when doing it.

Architecture-Oriented Guided Tours

  • High Middle Age Gothic versus Jesuitical Baroque.
  • Canonical versus non-canonical church orientation.
  • Medieval timbered houses, cellars, and alleyways.
  • Civil Gothic with watch turrets, pinnacles, and gables.
  • The Italian origin of Renaissance architecture.
  • Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian architectural orders.
  • The classic 17th-century “hôtels particuliers” were laid out “between court and garden” with stone or brick and stone facades.

Historical figures of the Tours

  • Richard the Lionheart: King of England.
  • Saint-Louis, Philippe-Auguste, Charles V, Henri II, Catherine de Médicis, Henri IV, Louis XIII: Queens and Kings of France.
  • Napoleon I, Napoleon III: French Emperors.
  • Cardinal de Richelieu, Duc de Sully: French ministers.
  • Gabriel, Comte de Montgomery: Captain of the King’s Scots Guard.
  • Boccador: Italian architect of the Renaissance
  • Victor Hugo, the famous French writer.
  • Jim Morrison: American singer and poet

Historical Periods Broached During the Tours

  • Roman Empire, the beginning of Paris
  • Middle Ages, an amazing demographic and cultural growth
  • 16th century, The French Renaissance
  • 17th century, “Le Grand Siecle”Le Marais apogee
  • French Revolution, with its big impact on Paris monuments
  • First and Second Empires, Paris transformation eras

Things to know before Booking

Meeting Point 3 hour tour
Close to Hôtel de Ville de Paris,
The exact meeting point is given in the booking document.

Access Métro line 1 station: Hôtel de Ville.

Marais Tour Attention Points

  • The tour is on foot.
  • Prices do not include transportation, food, drinks, or any other extra services.
  • Neighborhood tour: we don’t enter monuments unless otherwise specified. Nevertheless, we may enter Saint-Paul and/or Saint-Protais churches.
  • Tour duration & content are purely indicative; they may vary due to contingencies.
  • Weather: the tour will start on schedule, rain or shine.

Book your Marais Private Walking Tour

Just follow the below 4 steps online easy process.   

1. Request a date & schedule for your tour

2. Receive our answer email - if yes you have 24h to pay

3. Pay your private tour on line by credit card

4. Receive
confirmation & meeting point

Nota bene : answer to step (2) is most of the time yes. 

Photo of the Hôtel de Donon to illustrate the Marais private tour Paris, France.

Hôtel Donon, Le Marais, Paris. Credit photo Broaden-Horizons.

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