I have many expectations for Paris and I blame this on the film. You know, the ones that transport us to the 20s’ in a horse-drawn carriage, to the time where people has impeccable taste and live seemingly well-tended lives. The ones where stone colour buildings have palatial sculptures and big, heavy doors, and antique vehicles manoeuvre comfortably on a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone alleys. Imagine beautiful women with pixie faces wearing slinky silk dresses and smoking in the most elegant fashion.
I could go on forever.
I don’t think anyone will ever be through with the wide avenues, the boulevards, the squares and the homogeneous Haussmann houses that are representative of Napoléon III ‘s Paris. But in case you, like me, are searching for the Paris that Woody Allen promised, you go to Le Marais.
Back to present day, I can still find traces of the above mentioned in Le Marais, except that the svelte women are now gone and replaced by devoted followers of fashion, art lovers and sassy proponents of the LGBT social movements.
Le Marais is one of the few areas in the capital that is untouched by Haussmann’s renovation. In Le Marais, Paris becomes really approachable, but at the same time, like an ageing superstar, a little worn out and jaded. The stained walls and some blemished old shops all betrayed the ancient aristocratic district of Paris, which for many times has lost and regained its class and shine. But now, thanks to the chic fashionistas, affluent art connoisseurs and acclaimed celebrities, this historic quartier remade itself (again) to be one of the finest districts in the city.
In the summer, there are often a posse of sun-revellers reading and tanning at the Place des Vosges. The oldest planned square in Paris, it is fenced with the most exclusive pre-revolutionary buildings that are now reserved for some of the wealthiest in the country. From members of the French nobility to Victor Hugo to Jim Morrison, these ritzy buildings were where they called home. And it is completely understandable if the engine of your imagination now whirrs like that of a vintage Bugatti, to a life that is surrounded by perfumes and velvet drapes and dark tales.
Le Marais was also the nuclei of Jewish community in Paris and this explains the stretch of Kosher delis, bakeries and old hammans at rue des Rosiers.
This visit to Le Marais was regretfully short but we did make time for a few scoops of Berthillon ice-cream across the bridge. I will return for sure, perhaps not for the star-studded boutique hotels, but definitely for the hip restaurants, bars, art galleries and a little Parisian-style shopping. 😉
A Bientôt, Le Marais.
^ Place des Voges
Printed bomber jacket // (on sales now)
With love x