As mentioned in our last post about Gilded Paris, we concluded our first day in Paris with a 12 hour snooze, too exhausted even for dinner. We seem to have done pretty much the same thing with this blog by taking nearly a month off since our last post. Let’s see about catching up a bit.
We had been to Paris’s Marais neighborhood on earlier visits, including a guided tour with Viking River Cruises during a 2015 cruise on the Seine, but we were eager to more fully explore the area. The Marais retains much of its medieval character, and is largely untouched by the Haussmannian renovations of the 19th century. Images of busy, narrow and windy streets and ancient buildings like the next three pictures leave a strong impression that were somewhat softened by what we saw on this morning.
We had hired a tour guide to help us explore the Marais, but first things first – breakfast. We walked to find something to eat in the Marais, and we found our spot:
Are there bad boulangeries in Paris? To be honest, delighted with our croissants and other pastries made here we didn’t bother doing any comparison shopping. We ate breakfast here the next two mornings as well. Here’s an example of their fare:
Sitting outside, we had this sunshiny, early morning view:
We had picked our tour guide for the Marais after following his series of weekly walks around Paris on YouTube and live on Facebook. Corey Frye is an American who moved to Paris with his French wife. (The story of how they met is an example of a classic “meet cute.”) Marketing himself as “A French Frye in Paris,” Corey is also a writer and photographer; check out his photos on Instagram.
We met Corey just across the Seine from our hotel, walking across the Louis Philippe bridge to start our 2-hour tour. Here’s a picture of Corey. (Coincidentally the restaurant with the blue window frames in the background – Pamela Popo – is where we had a great dinner that night.)
One of the things that we learned from his tour is that the Marais is more than a jumble of urban streets; we thought that there is also a bit of a village vibe to the area:
We went to some out-of-the-way sights of the Marais, including the Hôtel de Sens, complete with its embedded cannon ball that was fired during the three day long French Revolution of 1830:
We also saw a surviving portion of the original city wall of Paris, which serves double duty as the side wall of a set of basketball and tennis courts and of some apartment buildings. The rounded edge of the wall at the right is part of one of the original gates into the city.
A highlight of our tour was the time spent inside the beautiful, historic Saint-Paul Saint-Louis church:
It’s often the little details from foreign travel that catch our eyes; here are some examples from the Marais. Read more about the green fountains that are found around the city.
The two hours with Corey flew by! After finishing the tour at Place des Vosges, we were famished. We headed right for one of the Marais’s biggest food destinations, L’as du Fallafel, where we sat down for a delicious lunch:
If you’d like to take a virtual tour of the Marais with Corey that includes much of what we experienced on our guided tour, you really should watch these two YouTube videos from his YouTube channel:
Better yet, take a trip to Paris and book your own tour with him!
We had a great time getting to know more about the Marais. There are many more corners to explore, including the several museums in the area. In the afternoon we continued our exploration by visiting one of those museums, which will be the topic of our next blog post.
We’ll end this post with a picture from a different morning in the Marais. Here is a pre-dawn shot capturing the BHV department store sporting its Christmas season colors and Mary Poppins theme: