Hidden Gems in Le Marais
Ah, Le Marais.
After all my time in Paris I am still amazed at this neighborhood’s ability to continuously surprise me.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all… the sound of a saxophone lures you into another secret jazz bar; the smell of burning butter makes a tiny cafe known to the public; a cat meow’s from a rooftop where, upon closer inspection, people are enjoying some sunshine.
Le Marais is a national treasure in my opinion. If you’re yet to visit this district in Paris you have much to look forward to.
Expect some of Paris’ most fashionable individuals, street cafes filled with happy diners, boutiques hosing some of the most creative works on the market. Le Marais is a place where people go to enjoy life — rather than just watch it pass by.
Normally the attractive nature of districts like this in Paris tend to result in them being overly crowded by tourists. Somehow this is not the case in Le Marais. The streets are busting, yes; but never in a sense of frenzy, more so in mutual enjoyment.
Finding hidden gems in Le Marais in 2019 is like looking for a needle in a haystack. They’re there, they’re just really, really camouflaged into the rest of the chaotic Parisian scene.
This is a list of some of the better ones that I’ve stumble across. The few that are yet to be saturated by wild tourism.
Le Marais is small, so most of these are within walking distance from one another and could be explored on the same day. A free guided walking tour of the neighborhood is another great way to make sure nothing is left out.
The Moonshiner in Le Marais
5 Rue Sedaine
Pay close attention… I’m about to let you in on one of Le Marais’ best kept secrets. The Moonshiner is a prohibition themed bar with an entrance that is as secret as the space itself.
Unless you’ve been told specifically where to go, or you’re following some locals, you will never find the Moonshiner. Read on and I might just tell you how to get to it.
The Moonshiner space can be best described as a chamber of sorts. The atmosphere is that of a boozy 1920s jazz club. It is as cool and cosy as a bar can get.
The bar specialists in cocktails. They feature all the classics you know and love as well as a wide selection of creative options that the mixologists have made up themselves. Since the bar tries to keep the the speakeasy theme, the drinks are all reasonably priced — just like back in the prohibition days.
The great thing about this bar being such a well kept secret is that you’ll never be bombarded by tourists taking selfies or barely legal teens looking for a night out.
It is escapism at it’s finest. One minute you’re on the street of Le Marais, just a few minutes walk from Bastille square, the next you’re deep in the roaring Parisian 20s.
So how do you get in? The entrance to The Moonshiner is situated inside of the pizzeria that you’ll find at 5 Rue Sedaine. Da Vito pizzeria is a popular spot amongst Le Marais local, but even most of them aren’t aware of the secret bar hidden in the back.
To get into The Moonshiner enter Da Vitos and walk to the very back of the restaurant. You’ll come to a door that appears to be the entrance to the chiller. Push it open and you’ll find it is in fact the entry point to the prohibition bar.
Da Vitos is a great little spot for a bit to eat before heading back in time. They have delicious pizzas and cater well to vegetarians too. Best to line the stomach with something before you go looking for The Moonshiner — you won’t be leaving here until the early hours of the morning.
Average cost: Under €20
Rue des Barres in Le Marais
Because this road is so close to the edge of Le Marais it often goes unexplored by the passers by. Rue des Barres is situated right by the Seine and is referred to those who know of its existence as “one of the most charming roads in all of Paris”.
I must humbly agree. Rue des Barres is the perfect place to take a roll of film and waste some time capturing its beauty.
Picturesque is a word that we need to use sparingly in Paris to avoid it losing its meaning completely. So much of Paris is undoubtably picturesque… roads like Rue des Barres need special vocabulary to capture their charm.
There are two things to look out for when walking the Rue de Barres. The first is Église Saint-Gervais, one of the oldest still standing churches in all of Paris.
Whether you walk through this church or just stick to the exterior it is always a welcome sight to see in Le Marais. If you can go inside I would recommended doing so. The church is known for its incredible stain glass windows that glisten with the sun rays all through the day.
The second spot to look out for on this road is a little cafe called L’Ebouillante. In the warmer months you can get lost in hours of wine and conversation at the terrace seating. They make wonderful salads that are perfect in the heat.
Being so near to the water of the Seine, Rue des Barres is the perfect place to begin a sunset stroll.
Rue des Barres is also situated in very close proximity to Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, which is something I encourage all up and coming artists to look into. It is a residency within Le Marais that is not widely known — it offers opportunity for creatives to stay and create in Paris for certain periods of time.
Le Marais may be trendy and hip, but its essence is that of an artists hub. Places like the Rue des Barress and Cité Internationale keep it to its routes.
Café de la Gare in Le Marais
41 Rue du Temple
Café de la Gare is a 300 seater theatre that has somehow stayed vastly under the radar in terms of mainstream Parisian entertainment since its founding in 1969.
The space is tiny. At first glance you’d never say that there was a full theatre hidden within the premises. From the outside Café de la Gare looks like any other Le Marais based cafe. It is only once you are inside that you become aware of what else the space has to offer.
The cafe itself is a great place to stop by during a day of Le Marais exploration. The coffee and snacks are consistently tasty.
If you’re taking the time to head over to Café de la Gare then I high recommend that the end goal be to watch a show. There is something so light and humbling about watching live actors perform in such an intimate setting.
The cafe is known to host a variety of live theatre shows. You will need to check their website in advance to make your selection from the performances and time slots available. Most of the shows are plays — however Café de la Gare has been known to put on the occasional dance and comedy piece here and there.
You’ll be able to book online as well, however the low-key nature of this theatre also allows for great spontaneity as showing up without a ticket will never leave you curb-side. The box office is always open with seats available for purchase. Prices of tickets vary depending on the nature of the show.
Café de la Gare is situated just a few blocks walk from the Picasso Museum. This is an absolute must for anyone visiting Le Marais; a true monument dedicated to one of the cities greatest icons.
Average cost: Under €10
Jardin des Rosiers-Joseph-Mignoret in Le Marais
10 Rue des Rosier
Our next hidden gem is the perfect spot in Le Marais to escape the rest of the car and foot traffic in the district. The Joseph Migneret Gardens are a little hideaway in the centre of the neighborhood and can only be accessed through entering the courtyards of the adjacent hotels.
Before visiting here, grab some takeaway food from one of the many vendors in the area. My go-to is the falafel sandwich from L’as du Fallafel just a short walk away. The area is crammed with delicious quick-bites and treats for you to walk with.
The easiest way to get to this little tucked away garden is via the hôtel de Coulanges over on 35 Rue des Francs Bourgeois. The space is enclosed by the surrounding wall of the adjacent hotel buildings, so you really feel the effect of being removed from the main city life.
The grass and shrubbery are, for the most part, always green. The summer and spring seasons are of course more luscious than the colder months.
Regardless, the Joseph Migneret Gardens are one hundred percent open to the public although it is mostly locals who even know about this spot.
This is also a great place to consider taking a packed picnic too! Enjoy a fresh cheese baguette on some green grass right in the heart of Paris’ beloved Le Marais!
Nanashi Charlot in Le Marais
57 Rue Charlot
If you ever run into another human being who is aware of the existence of this next place, it is not unlikely that you’ll both use the word “gem” to describe it.
For some bizarre reason Nanashi seems to be the go-to place for all of the A-listers who flock in and out of Paris during the various fashion weeks. The rest of the time, the restaurant is an unheard of little spot that is frequented by mostly the longstanding locals of Le Marais.
It is a cafeteria styled space and the service is wonderful. The cuisine is technically French-Japanese fusion. You’ll want to try any of their bento style meals to feel the complete experience.
Beware of the season in which you visit. As I said, if Fashion Week is in town you’ll struggle to get a table. As for the rest of the year — no trouble at all, mon amour.
Average cost: Under €20
Le Bataclan in Le Marais
50 Boulevard Voltaire
The Bataclan is probably one of the most unlikely and unexpected spots in Le Marais. Most that pass by will recognize the building as the ornate Chinese temple in the middle of Boulevard Voltaire.
For the most part, the exterior could be easily taken as an old, out-of-use facility once home to oriental events and gatherings. On the inside, Le Bataclan is actually a fully functioning auditorium and showcases an array of concerts and theatre pieces.
Unless you sought out a particular show here; you’d likely never know the true function of this space. The outside does well to conceal it.
Knowing what really goes on behind the beautiful cream and red walls makes the vicinity that much more alluring.
A visit to the Bataclan used to give individuals the opportunity to see an original Banksy artwork located on one of the rear fire-exit doors. The piece was unfortunately stolen just recently from the premises without any leads.
Prices for entry vary from show to show.
Le Marais is the not-so-hidden gem of Paris on the grander scale of things. It is a flurry of excitement and things to do & see.
Like any flourishing town, there are always the little guys in the background creating interesting spaces in hopes of keeping some sort of soul alive. I believe each of these hidden gems in Le Marais do just that.