Paris 3rd & 4th
Those who are fed up with the impressive 19th century facades of
the 1st arrondissement, should immediately move to the 3rd.......Which
means le Marais. The Marais stretches further into the 4th arr but
I will remain for the moment in the 3rd, the northern part of the
Marais. A beautiful area, which character changed often through
a turbulent history. Of a great architectural unity and homogeneity
it is an ideal area for promenades in narrow, medieval streets.
More than everywhere else in Paris, look around, quietly, don't
be in a hurry, slow down your pace to inhale the delicate atmosphere
brought here through the centuries. From time to time push a door,
or ring a door opener bell to discover paved yards, interior gardens.
This area was a swamp until the 12th century. But monks dried the
land and made it fit for building. The Jewish community followed.
Beautiful palaces were build when the aristocracy settled down in
the 17th century. And one of the most beautiful squares in Paris:
the place des Vosges, an idea of Henri IV who built also his hotel
des Tournelles. The marquise de Sevigne and the Bishop of Rohan
did the same with their magnificent hotels. When nobility moved
to Versailles at the end of the 17th century, the Marais slowly
degraded. It lost its attraction, the noble mansions could be bought
by anybody with some money . And when the supporters of the French
revolution chased the stubborn remainders of the elite with a hard
fist (and guillotine), the mansions, palaces and hotels de maitre
turned into ruins and wasteland. The rest of the 19th century precipitated
the ruin of the area , even if a lot of craftsmen lived in the area.
But Andre Malraux, state secretary of culture in 1962, decided that
the area deserved a revival. Great sections of the area were saved
by classiffying them into "monument" protégé
as monuments and preserved against the sick appetite of real estate
promoters. He presented a sanitary plan and the maisons de maitre,
hotels particuliers and residences which were fit for demolition,
could not be touched anymore. But the consequence was that the real
estate prices rose into heaven and almost all "original"
inhabitants of the area had to move away or were thrown in the street
without mercy. Art galleries, fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants
replaced ateliers and manufactures in the small alleys. Nevertheless
a lot of really ruined houses had to be demolished but, without
these anyway irrecoverable constructions, the Marais mansions found
their old brilliance and splendor again. Loiter, walk, and look
at the iron wrought details, stunning porches and portals. Whenever
you can get in somewhere, do it, or else admire it from the outside.
A lot of these houses were divided into apartments and sold to wealthy
industrials, artists or writers.
If you want to walk on a Sunday and admire nice and cute shops,
go to the rue des Francs-Bourgeois where everything is open. Conviviality
is the main ambience around the Carreau du Temple and in the rue