Continuing along the Right Bank, the third and fourth arrondissements hold some of my favorite places in Paris: the Marais neighborhood, Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis . A bit less busy than the more central districts, they welcome you with rows of trees along the Seine, small-yet-beautiful parks, and some of the prettiest streets in the city.
The Marais spans across both the third and fourth arrondissements of Paris. It’s often compared to New York City’s stylish SoHo neighborhood, and a stroll in almost any direction will show you why. Start on Rue Vieille-du-Temple and wind your way through the more narrow Rue des Rosiers, Rue du Parc Royal, and Rue de Thorigny. As you pass by all the charming doorways, beautiful museums, classic façades, and incredible crêpe shops, let yourself stop for as long as you like – or just keep walking.
If you’re looking for a quiet garden, head to Jardin des Archives Nationales. It’s just hidden enough to stay peaceful, without being difficult to find. Nearby Place des Vosges isn’t a secret at all, and this famously pretty square can get busy on sunny days and weekends. When it’s simply too crowded to enjoy, make your way to the south-west corner of the square and into the quieter garden of Hotel de Sully.
At the southern edge of the Marais, just before the river, the Village Saint-Paul is made up of antique shops, art galleries, and residences that surround a series of inner courtyards. This charming village is easy to find if you know where to look – use the map at the bottom of this post, and find a diagram of all the entrances here.
photos by Molly Carr Photography
photo by Molly Carr Photography
Part of the fourth arrondissement, this island on the Seine is home to Notre Dame and Point Zéro of Paris. Most places here can get clogged with sightseers, so it’s nice to know a calm spot to escape to.
Near Pont Neuf and Square du Vert-Galant on the western end of the island, Place Dauphine is a wonderfully calm square in the heart of the city – and it’s beautiful, too. Similarly, on the eastern end of the island, Rue Chanoinesse is remarkably quiet even though it’s right next to the cathedral. Stop at Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole for a bite to eat, or just for a photo of the façade.
And please don’t miss the stained glass windows and starry ceiling at Sainte Chapelle!
Being the smaller of the city’s two islands, you might be tempted to make a quick walk across Île Saint-Louis and move on to another spot. But if you take the time to go beyond Rue Jean du Bellay, this place will charm you right out of whatever other plans you had.
Walk past the main street shops and restaurants along Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, then choose a side street and follow it out to the Quais that run along the perimeter of the island. Slowly make your way around until you come to Place Louis Aragon at the western point. Finally, gather a little picnic from the closest shop and head down to the riverside, where you’ll watch the swans and the sunset on the Seine.
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