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Le Marais, the chic district of Paris

Its name may literally mean 'The Marsh', but Le Marais, in the third and fourth arrondissements of Paris, is traditionally one of the most elegant and aristocratic city districts. As you'll see from our photo gallery, it's also bohemian, artistic and one of the most lively and cosmopolitan areas in the French capital.

Spreading along the right bank of the Seine, Le Marais is the perfect setting for a getaway: with galleries and museums, pavement artists decorating the streets outside the bustling cafes and restaurants, with craft and antique shops and vintage clothing stores, and, of course, some of the finest architecture in the city of lights. Following the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois will lead you to the symbolic centre of the district: la Place des Vosges, a perfectly symmetrical gem of a square which is one of the most beautiful spots in Paris. Here you can browse around the antique shops and, of course, make the obligatory stop at the pavement cafe Ma Bourgogne, among the city's most famous. For tourism there are many fine city mansions or palaces – known in French as 'hotels', Victor Hugo's house, the elegant Hotel de Sully and the Picasso Museum, in the magnificent Hotel Sale.

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Place des Vosges, Le Marais district, Paris
The Pavilion of the King stands on one side of the stately Place des Vosges; the square dates from the early 1600s and is the oldest planned square in Paris / © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: Marc Bertrand 

Le Marais district, Paris
Le Marais boasts elegant architecture, modish shops and cafes, such as this fashionable boutique on Rue des Rosiers (left) and this al fresco restaurant terrace on the Rue des Barres (right) in the shadow of the church of Saint-Gervais, / © Paris and Tourist Office - photographer: Amelie Dupont 

Place des Vosges, Le Marais district, Paris
The Place des Vosges, the iconic centre of the Marais district, is a unique architectural ensemble framed by red brick pavilions with steep blue slate roofs, arranged symmetrically around the central garden / © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: Amelie Dupont 

Le Marais district, Paris
The Hotel de Sens, a fine Gothic-Renaissance mansion, was originally owned by the archbishops of Sens and now houses the Forney Art Library / © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: Amelie Dupont 

Le Marais district, Paris
This curious juxtaposition of artistic motifs is from a restaurant in the Rue du Tresor / © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: David Lefranc 

Place des Vosges, Le Marais district, Paris
The elegant arcades around the Place des Vosges now house cafes art galleries and shops / © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: Marc Bertrand 

Le Marais district, Paris
From antique to vintage to modern: the range of shops and styles in Le Marais offers something for all tastes: this furniture shop is located in the Rue Francois Miron / © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: Marc Bertrand 

Carnavalet Museum, Le Marais district, Paris
The Carnavalet Museum recounts the history of Paris through its extensive and varied collections: it houses articles from the Middle Ages and from the French Revolution, paintings, sculptures, furniture, photographs and various architectural and decorative items / © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: Amelie Dupon 

Le Marais district, Paris
'City of Lights', or 'City of Love', Paris is a perfect location for a short break / © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: Amelie Dupont 

Le Marais district, Paris
With its wide assortment of shops, Le Marais is one of the must-visit neighbourhoods in the French capital / © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: Amelie Dupont 

Carnavalet Museum, Le Marais district, Paris
The Carnavalet Museum is located in two neighbouring mansions and has been open to the public since 1880  / © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: Marc Bertrand 

Le Marais district, Paris
On Sundays, the whole of Paris converges on Le Marais to browse the second-hand and vintage shops / © Paris Tourist Office - photographers: Stephanie Rivoal & David Lefranc 

Hotel de Soubise, Le Marais district, Paris
Napoleon designated the Hotel de Soubise home to the Imperial Archives. It now houses a part of the Museum of French History / © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: Amelie Dupont 

Le Marais district, Paris
Rue des Rosiers – literally 'rosebush street' – is one of the oldest in Paris and lies at the heart of the Jewish quarter / © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: Amelie Dupont 

Le Marais district, Paris
The gardens of the Paris Historical Library – the Bibliotheque historique de la ville de Paris – are yet another delightful patch of green in this chic area of Paris/ © Paris Tourist Office - photographer: Amelie Dupont 

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