All the neighborhoods of Paris are like characters unto themselves, much like the residents who call them home, and perhaps none more so than the Marais. Its narrow, gaslit streets still look the same as they did in the days of Henry IV, when the Good King made the neighborhood his aristocratic playground. And yet, the area has doubled over the decades as the hub of all things young and cool in the City of Light: a long-standing gay district and home to whatever the next big thing Paris might have, be it rising creatives and their designer. boutiques, busy neo-bistros or bustling nightclubs.
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Despite this enticing mix of old and new, the Marais has always been short on grand hotels. The neighborhood’s architecture, a patchwork of low-rise row houses and storefronts, poses a challenge for the big hotel brands, which generally favor the grand maisons that make conversion projects more attractive. The independent hotels that are emerging tend to have limited services, thanks to those narrow floor plans. So for most travelers, staying in the Marais has only been possible if they were willing to forego the comforts of fine Paris hotels or were looking for an Airbnb. Not anymore.
With its 61 guest rooms and suites decorated with Parisian antiques and custom furnishings and lighting, Le Grand Mazarin will offer travelers a much-needed luxury option when it opens its doors in October. The Martin Brudnizki-designed hotel connects three historic structures, one of which was for years a three-star hotel, along Rue de la Verriere. Brudnizki envisioned the project as the fictional post-war home of an eclectic Marais locale, uniting a series of intimate, residential-style spaces, from the reception area lined with moiré silks to the rooftop pool and spa, both adorned with murals. hand painted On the first floor, a restaurant will be inspired by the Jewish communities that settled in the neighborhood during the 16th and 17th centuries, combining Israeli and French flavors.
“The Marais has a delightful blend of boldness, whimsy and elegance,” says Kimberley Cohen Pariente, who helped bring Le Grand Mazarin to life as artistic director of her family’s Maisons Pariente hospitality brand. “It has this value of authenticity mixed with modernity,” adds Leslie Kouhana, Cohen’s sister and brand president.
Although Le Grand Mazarin will be the district’s first true five-star property, it builds on a series of recent openings of increasingly luxurious establishments. Nearby, in a former convent, the Hotel Sookie opened last summer with 31 elegant, if small, rooms. The original architectural details, including the carved wooden staircase, have been faithfully restored and combined with earthy textured décor that highlights natural materials such as bamboo, stone and wood. There’s no restaurant, but the on-site cafe makes up for it with fluffy homemade cinnamon rolls, classic chocolate babkas, and, in the evening, a selection of all-French wines and champagnes.
And French brand Evok’s Cour des Vosges, tucked away in a 17th-century mansion on the edge of Place de Vosges, is an understated oasis. Eschew the standard lobby and double down on privacy, with just 12 spacious suites that have four-poster beds and lots of original literature and art. 24-hour room service features seasonal creations by pastry chef Yann Brys, including apricot tarts and calisson sweets. The Roman bath and basement spa remain a well-kept local secret; the treatments have products from the Swiss brand La Colline.
Add the neighborhood’s first hotel from a major hospitality chain, Accor’s SO/ Paris, scheduled to open on September 1, and suddenly the Marais is abuzz with hotels. The 162-room property will be buttoned up, with staff dressed by Guillaume Henry, a spa by Codage Paris, and original artwork by Thomas Fougeirol and Olafur Eliasson. Its location in the recently completed Morland Mixité Capital multi-use development, an elegant revitalization project that brings workspaces, apartments and a food market to a dilapidated former office complex, is part of a new vision for the Marais. which, for better or worse, is changing the architectural makeup of the historic district.
Now that you have a place to stay, here’s a little black book of the district’s latest hot spots.
Baobar: Behind a bright pink facade on Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, this pan-Asian counter offers bao buns of all kinds: classic pork, vegetarian, even dessert bao, fried and filled with black sesame or matcha ice cream. Everything is served quickly and fun in the open kitchen, including dim sum and spicy fried chicken. A collection of natural wines and sakes line the neon-lit shelves on the walls.
Tekés: “Tekés” means “ceremony” in Hebrew, and the creators of this new vegetarian restaurant take the word very seriously. Described as an “ode to the plants and ancient cooking methods of Jerusalem,” the menu is a nod both to the homeland of chefs Assaf Granit and Cécile Lévy and to the post-revolutionary Jewish communities of the Marais. The duo carry out the tribute in heartfelt celebratory fashion, serving up family-style beetroot shawarma and mushroom-based foie de volaille from a clay pot.
Ganni: The Marais was a perfect fit for cult Scandinavian fashion brand Ganni’s first location in France. Since its inception in the year 2000, the Danish label has dominated the cool-girl style with its colorful retro style. The new flagship opened in March on Rue Vieille-du-Temple with interiors painted pink and yellow to match an eclectic collection of combat boots, pastel knitwear and vibrant T-shirts, along with graphic wall hangings designed by German artist Desire Moheb-Zandi.
Safe Urban Concept – If you’ve ever dreamed of getting a tattoo, drinking free trade coffee and shopping for sustainable fashion all in one place, this new hybrid concept store is the place for you. Safe Urban Concept takes good business practice to the nth degree, promoting exclusively local brands like genderless streetwear brand Common Paris and all-natural skincare company La Crème Libre in a cutting-edge eco gallery. The store also functions as a community space for emerging art exhibits and free workshops, such as a recent panel discussion on the effects of social media on notions of beauty and mental health.
Musée Carnavalet: The former Marais museum dedicated to the history of the city of Paris reopened in 2021 after a five-year, $60 million renovation. Work focused on restoring the institution’s historic mansions, as well as creating new galleries to showcase myriad never-before-seen artifacts and better connect the city’s history, from a collection of Gallo-Roman ruins dating from the 1st century to Henri Cartier- Bresson. Iconic street photography of the 20th century. The museum is also home to a new fine dining restaurant, Fabula, run by Top Chef France contestant Thibaut Spiwack.
Maison Suisen – Designed like a traditional ryokan with a burnt wood façade, this new Zen spa is utterly authentic to its Japanese roots from the ground up, greeting guests at the entrance with slippers and jinbei (kimono-style amusement sets). Shiatsu massage, acupuncture, and other Eastern therapies are performed in treatment rooms with bamboo ceilings, fusuma (sliding doors), and washi (paper lanterns). Even a quick visit to the tea room, which specializes in herbal and green medicinal teas, is immersive enough to make you forget if Mount Fuji or the Eiffel Tower are right outside.
Stella Pardo: In 2020, Franco-Peruvian designer Cinthya Guerrero chose the Marais as the first physical location for her brand. Opened in 2020, the store is a showcase for puffy alpaca sweaters ethically sourced from a community of weavers in Lima; granny crochet dresses and bags; and a hippie vibe prevailing thanks to vintage furnishings and textural shades of beige throughout.
Merci – This three-story concept store has been open for over a decade, but its ever-evolving roster of designers and artists keeps it fresh even for the locals who frequent it on a weekly basis. Shop for original lamps and linen bedspreads, dinnerware and skin care products, almost all of which come from French designers. And don’t leave without a Merci bag or t-shirt; they are distinctive pieces that unite all the informed inhabitants of the Marais.
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