We jumped off the bus in the heart of Le Marais to be greeted by Marion’s smile and Pascal’s dashing pea green waistcoat. As it turned out, the founder of RobertPINK and the one to lead us on our Paris walking tour was a born-and-bred Parisian woman in pastel pink trousers – and not a guy called Robert as I had assumed (sorry Marion!).
She had teamed up with the genteel Pascal Fonquernie, a Parisian who has lived in Le Marais for 35 years and is so passionate about his neighbourhood that he launched ParisMarais.com to share the love! Together they led us on a tour of Paris’ hippest district…
Le Marais with RobertPINK
“You’re really in the centre of Paris; in the historical heart of the city.” – Marion
That’s how Marion first introduced us to Le Marais. The incredible history that grew from what was once marshland (‘marais’ means ‘swamp’ in English) began in the Middle Ages, and houses from the 14th century still stand to this day!
Since then various communities have called Le Marais their home. Most recently it’s known for its concentrated Jewish community, the artistic community that accounts for the wealth of art galleries tucked behind humble wooden doors, the gay community that rests amongst the café terraces and cocktail bars, the fashion community that launches the boutique concept stores, and much much more…
Le Marais: Marché des Enfants Rouges
With so much going on in Le Marais it’s hard to know where to start and what to include so I’m going to share with you my favourite parts of the RobertPINK walking tour! First stop… the market!
Marché des Enfants Rouges was founded in 1615 – 400 years ago! That makes it the oldest covered market in Paris and maybe even the whole of France.
It has two small entrances that can be found under these metal archways…
As we meandered through stalls brimming with summer flowers and stands serving crepes filled to burst with fresh meats and vegetables, Marion explained the diversity that attracts so many locals to the market for lunch.
If you miss breakfast, this is the place to fill up and you have so much choice including Lebanese, Moroccan, Japanese and Italian takeaway hotspots.
As you wash down the Moroccan msemen with a glass of artisan red wine you’ll hear the stall sellers shouting out orders amongst themselves and trading with customers laden with heavy bags of fresh produce in one arm and a huge bouquet in the other.
Street Art in Le Marais
Dragging yourselves away from the Marché des Enfants Rouges is a struggle, especially for foodies in Paris! But as our Paris walking tour continued we found that just as much local culture was to be found on the surrounding streets.
And what represents a city’s culture more than the local street art?
The thought provoking sculpture below of the man trying to escape his phone is captioned with the phrase “save urself”. Installed by an artist called Kai, the cement piece ironically had me reaching for my phone to share it on Snapchat.
And frustratingly I couldn’t find out anything about the three robots below. I spotted them en route to the boutique store Merci, but also found a few others on Instagram shared by fans who also don’t seem to credit an artist. If you know who creates them let me know in the comments!
His dancing women convey so much grace and the effect of the shimmering confetti that surrounds them just makes me feel like I’m in a party! Or should be at a party!
Le Marais: A Paris Walking Tour or An Instagrammer’s Dream?
If you’re not a fan of the street art in Le Marais then all you have to do is walk its streets to see just why the area is so popular with locals, expats and tourists alike.
And whilst I can only imagine how much the sun radiates from the custard cream paintwork of the tall apartment buildings on a summer day, the grey skies we experienced didn’t dampen the beauty at all.
And the best part about exploring Le Marais with RobertPINK and Pascal on our Paris walking tour? They led us to secrets like this hidden garden.
It’s only visible through a keyhole. But I’m not going to tell you which one. That’s Marion’s job.
RobertPINK: Things to know
The Paris walking tour we took with Marion just touched on a few of the hidden secrets of Le Marais. And I’ve barely shown you the half of it in this article. We also explored stunning galleries and boutique hotels But my favourite spot is actually a mono-boutique bakery – I loved it so much that it will be getting its own post soon!
If you want to experience Le Marais with RobertPINK then you’ll want to book on the ‘Art & Pastry’ Tour. However they offer a wide range of tours all across Paris beginning at €190 for two people. And if this is too much then I’d get together a group of new friends from your hostel (I stayed at Generator Paris!) as the price goes down to €70 per person for groups of four.
Also, if you didn’t follow along on Snapchat I created this short recap of our time in the clubs and festivals of Paris. Click to play!
Tell me: who’s your favourite street artist?!
I was a guest on the RobertPINK Paris walking tour for the ‘Young & Festive’ weekend run by the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau and hosted by Generator Paris. However, and as always, all opinions are honest and my own.
Lots of love,