Guide to the 4th arrondissement of Paris: The Old Marais

Ah, the Marais. Ancient buildings meet modern culture. There’s a lively Jewish district close to the city’s gay district, there are fascinating relics from an 800-year-old wall, and there is the most beautiful island in Europe: the Ile Saint-Louis.

We spend a day in the district as part of our Paris Countdown series. Here’s what we found.

The Earful Tower podcast episode

This podcast episode on the 4th district of Paris also includes an interiview with Paul Barron from Le Peloton Cafe, and our final score of the disrict out of 100.

Video guide to the 4th arrondissement

Here’s our visit, in video format, via our YouTube channel. We’ll be making one of these travel vlogs every week, so be sure to subscribe (you can do it in one click via this link). 

The Earful Tower’s guide to the 4th arrondissement

Find peace in the Place des Vosges

This beautiful 400-year-old square is a tranquil oasis in the middle of a busy city. Find a bench, sit down, and watch Paris go by. Note: A stroll around the arcade perimeter is a must! Address: Pl. des Vosges, 75004 

Discover the breathtaking Hotel de Sully

The Hotel de Sully is the most beautiful shortcut in Paris. Head through through this magical courtyard-bookshop-garden on the way to Place des Vosges and marvel at ancient Paris at its best. Address: 62 Rue Saint-Antoine, 75004

Explore Victor Hugo’s home

While you’re at the Places des Vosges, pop into the Maison de Victor Hugo. This was the home of perhaps France’s most well-known writer – and it’s free to enter. Don’t miss the brand new cafe and its spacious courtyard on the way out. Address: 6 Pl. des Vosges, 75004 

Be a flâneur on Île Saint-Louis 

Incredible architecture, history dating back thousands of years, and a rich little community. This is the ideal way to see Paris if you only have one hour. If you want a taste of the island’s flavour, here’s my interview with a local resident. If you really want a taste… get the local ice cream (see below).

Wander down Rue des Rosiers 

One of the most beautiful and happening streets in the Marais, where kebab shops and fashion boutiques elbow each other for attention.

Find traces of the Philippe Auguste Wall

OK we all know I’m obsessed with these vestiges, and if you want to find some great examples of the Philippe Auguste Wall, the fourth is your best bet in Paris.

Especially at the Saint-Paul Basketball court Address: 14 Rue des Jardins Saint-Paul, 75004 

Chill out in the hidden garden

Jardin des Rosiers Joseph Migneret not only features a big chunk of the Philippe Auguste Wall, but it’s a perfectly secluded place to escape the city’s bustle. Long time podcast listeners will no doubt remember the time a prolific Paris writer told me to meet him under the fig tree in this park. Address: 10 Rue des Rosiers, 75004

Check in on Notre Dame

It will still be a while before the Notre Dame is ready for tourists, but while you’re in the fourth arrondissement you may as well check in on the progress. Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004

Visit the Centre Pompidou

This museum of modern art is a must – but don’t try rocking up an hour before they close. That’s the mistake we made, so we could only visit the viewpoint at the top floor, but that was a piece of art in itself. @centrepompidou Address: Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004

Enjoy a coffee at the friendliest cafe in town

Le Peloton Café is a very dear location to many, including all of us here at The Earful Tower. One of the owners, Paul Barron, featured on this week’s podcast talking about his cafe and the district itself, be sure to say hi from us if you make it in. @lepelotoncafe Address: 17 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 75004

Places to eat in the 4th arrondissement

Have the best pita in Paris

A midday stroll in the Marais is incomplete without a pita from Miznon. We recommend the cauliflower or lamb fillings, best eaten on the go or at a nearby hidden park. @miznonparis Address: 22 Rue des Ecouffes, 75004

People watch at Le Saint-Regis

A classic Paris cafe/restaurant on the Ile Saint Louis. A healthy mix of tourists and locals, a beautiful interior, and the kind of Paris dining experience that feels incredibly authentic. @le_saint_regis_paris Address: 6 Rue Jean du Bellay, 75004

Dine in a Belle Époque paradise

Bofinger might sound like a James Bond-themed restaurant, but it isn’t! It’s a charming French diner with traditional food (lots of seafood especially) and a very photographable interior. @brasserie_bofinger Address: 5-7 Rue de la Bastille, 75004

Taste the best ice cream in Pairs

Berthillon makes the city’s best ice cream and there’s no doubt about it. You can find their delicious goods all over the Ile Saint-Louis. @berthillon_officiel Address: 31 rue saint louis en l’île, 75004

Great bars in the 4th arrondissement

Maria Loca offers unpretentious rum-based cocktails as a specialty, heaven help you if you order anything with vodka. Friendly staff, low key vibe, serious cocktails. @marialocaparis Address: 31 Bd Henri IV, 75004 

Le 1905: This is kinda like a speakeasy, go up the steps behind the fairly innocent-looking entryway, and find yourself in a bar from yesteryear. Tiny little outdoor terrace, very charming interior with leather couches and cosy corners. @1905paris Address: 25 Rue Beautreillis, 75004

That will do for now! Next week we’ll be taking you to the 3rd arrondissement as part of this Paris Countdown series, where we’re spending a day in each Paris district. A big thanks to Augusta Sagnelli for the photos and Charlotte Pleasants for the additional reporting.

Here’s the podcast episode again in case you missed it, new episodes every Monday – next time, the 3rd arrondissement.

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6 thoughts on “Guide to the 4th arrondissement of Paris: The Old Marais

  1. HI Oliver
    Will you be releasing a book with all your visits to the arrondissmonts so that we can follow each of your trips when we are in Paris?

    1. Not so sure about that… sounds like a lot more work 🙂 Let’s put it in the probably not pile for now, but you never know!

  2. Oliver,
    This brought great memories back to me of our trip to Paris in 2019. You took Raj and me on an amazing tour around the Marais. Thanks for reminding us of a wonderful day there with a fabulous tour guide!
    Judy Solanki

  3. I think that maybe if you asked ordinary folks to list 50 tourist sites they’d include one in the fourth: Notre Dame! Seems like top 1 or 2, even closed! Going with Lina’s 10 here! Otherwise, top scores well deserved!

  4. Awww, I love when you two collaborate on the podcasts . . . and you’ve said such lovely things about the neighborhood I call home. I just sent this link to a friend in TX with a list of things to do since they are staying in the 4th (interested to hear about Le Pavillon de la Reine hotel). Then I thought I should actually listen, otherwise like recommending a book one has not read (hey, I trusted your pod was good, and I was correct!). Funnily, your podcast mirrored the things I had written to my friend like Miznon and the fig tree, etc., so they’ll never believe my suggestions were my idea, lolz! But I’m actually messaging to say you two need to return to Bofinger and order their delish Alsatian food! Bofinger came from Alsace in the 1860s, so choucroute and ham and sausages in giant bowls (a highly sharable meal, making it very economical) are incredible. And they are also known for excellent oysters–so go again. To me, the place feels like you are in the middle of Hello Dolly (the musical), and Louis Armstrong is going to break out in song at any moment, dancing with the wait staff. Also, this was the first Paris brasserie with beer on tap because . . . Alsace! Bofinger’s fun history is discussed in this article. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2002/feb/10/foodanddrink.restaurants. Thanks for all the Paris joy you two share . . . in so many different formats. 🙂

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