Located on the Right Bank, the 4eme arrondissement is perhaps better known by another name: the Marais. In essence, the Marais covers portions of both the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, but its iconic sights like the Hotel de Ville and Saint Paul neighborhood are in the 4th.
And to be clear, this is one of Paris’s most popular districts for both locals and visitors. With some of the top historical attractions of Paris like the Louvre Museum on one side and Place de la Bastille on the other, it is a great area for those who prefer to explore the city on foot.
From the Notre Dame de Paris to the Centre Pompidou, there are quite a few hidden and not-so-hidden gems in this area to go exploring. So let’s see what there is to do in the 4th arrondissement, shall we? Allons-y!
What to see: Top Attractions
1. Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral on Ile de la Cité
Standing majestically on the banks of the River Seine, Notre Dame de Paris has been a focal point of Parisian life for centuries. The Cathedral is located on an island in the center of Paris, called Ile de la Cité, chosen for its strategic position and defensive location.
The Roman temple was eventually replaced by a Church to St. Etienne. Construction of the current cathedral dedicated to Mother Mary began in 1163 AD and the high altar was consecrated on 19 May 1182.
It is still a beauty however, even with a few scars. You can book a guided tour around the area here.
2. Berillon’s ice cream on Ile Saint Louis
With Notre Dame Cathedral is on Île de la Cité, its neighboring Île Saint Louis is more of a charming quiet neighborhood where understated shops and restaurants flourish. The island was named after Saint King Louis IX, one of the most famous saints in France.
The biggest attraction on Ile Saint Louis has to be Bertillon’s ice cream which have both the locals and tourists flocking.
What gelato is to Italy, Bertillons is to France. One of their original locations is on the Ile Saint Louis in the center of Paris, but there are certain restaurants that serve it as well in the Marais.
☞ READ MORE: French desserts you have to try!
3. Centre Pompidou
The building itself is a piece of art as an ‘inside-out’ building in with its structural system, mechanical systems, and circulation exposed on the exterior of the building.
All of the functional structural elements of the building are color-coded: green pipes are plumbing, blue ducts are for climate control, electrical wires are encased in yellow, and circulation elements and fire safety devices are red.
4. Deportation Martyrs Memorial
Within walking distance of the Memorial, behind the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris on the tip of Ile de la Cité in the 4th arrondissement, is the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation.
It was built underground with high walls and an iron gate to show the descent into darkness of humankind.
The Memorial is also dedicated to the men, women and children deported from France to concentration camps between 1940 and 1944 who did not return. Entrance to this hauntingly beautiful memorial is free. You can find more free museums in Paris here.
5. Hotel de Ville
The Hôtel de Ville (Paris’s main town hall) is an impressively building that you cannot miss as you walk around the 4eme arrondissement. This is the main city hall for all of Paris, although each individual arrondissement also has a smaller townhall and mayor.
When Parisians give birth or want to get married, they go to their own arrondissement mayoral office, but for larger works like city maintenance and organization, it is this Hotel de Ville in the Marais.
While you cannot visit inside, the neo-renaissance building is spectacular and often has events in front of it such as concerts in the summer and an ice-skating rink in winter).
6. Maison de Victor Hugo
His most popular works that have been translated into over 60 languages have to be Les Miserables and Hunchback of Notre Dame (which was not intended to be a children’s tale). He was also renowned for his poetry collections, such as Les Contemplations (The Contemplations) and La Légende des siècles (The Legend of the Ages).
But Victor Hugo did more than just write fictional novels. He was also a passionate supporter of republicanism after the Revolution, and served in politics as a deputy in the Assemblée Nationale, as well as a senator.
He gave several speeches to end poverty, as well as to establish universal suffrage (for women) and free education for all children. His advocacy in the 19th century to abolish the death penalty became renowned internationally.
His advocacy even had him briefly expelled from France (he went to Belgium) before being allowed back. For his works and service to the French nation, he is buried in the Panthéon in the 5th arrondissement.
His home in the Marais, a 280 sqm apartment in the Place des Vosges has been converted into a museum called the Maison de Victor Hugo at 6 Pl. des Vosges, 75004 Paris.
He lived in this rented apartment with his wife for 16 years between 1832–1848. The museum covers the various periods of his life, including various drawings he did over the course of his life.
If you are looking for tiny boutiques, you will want to go shopping in the Marais. Forget the luxury brands of Avenue Montaigne in the 8th arrondissement, for emerging designers you will want to head to Rue Vieille du Temple in the Marais.
Wander into FrenchTrotters or Hipenema, a few steps away from Karl Lagerfeld’s concept store on Rue Vieille du Temple. Other popular streets in the Marais include Rue de Birague, Rue Charlot, Rue de Sévigné, Boulevard Beaumarchais, and Rue du Roi de Sicile.
In addition, you will find all the shopping mainstays on Rue de Rivoli, which is an easy way to orient yourself. There’s lots to explore, so put the map away and just wander to where you feet may take you.
If you are looking for that bargain find, there are several vintage shops in Paris, particularly around the Marais. The most notable and popular ones are:
- Come on Eileen – 40 Rue de Rivoli, 75004 – Vintage designer pieces from the 1960s to most recent times. If you are looking for that lightly-used Chanel or Hermes jacket, this might be your best bet.
- Tilt Vintage Paris – 8 Rue de Rivoli, 75004 – Second hand finds from the 1960s onwards, that are reasonably priced in near mint condition. They also have an online store.
- Free’P’Star – 61 Rue de la Verrerie, 75004 – clothing for women and men, including 1-euro bins. Stock changes often, so go with an open mind.
Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux
And if you are looking for outdoor markets, head to the Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux (market of flowers and birds) at 37 Place Louis Lépine, 75004 Paris.
Queen Elizabeth II is renowned have it on her list of favorite things to do in Paris, and so the market was renamed after her on her last visit to France. Every Sunday, this market transforms into a Bird Market as well, hence the name “oiseaux” which means birds.
It opened in 1830 and has both outdoor stalls as well as indoor stalls housed in cast iron pavilion. If you are looking for romantic things to do in Paris, this is it. You can buy all sorts of seasonal and exotic flowers here, so treat your Other Half to a romantic bouquet that says “I love you” 😉
Located in the Marais, the Village of St-Paul is is a small market located between Rue St. Antoine and the Seine, next to Metro Line 1 Saint Paul station and near the Place de la Bastille.
There are several shops and street vendors set up on pedestrianized cobblestone streets, mainly selling clothing, antiques, second-hand toys, arts and crafts. It is open everyday except Tuesdays, from 11am-7pm.
What to eat: Restaurants, Brasseries, and Bistros
There are a variety of restaurants in the area at all different price points. This is one of the most popular part of Paris to go out, for tourists as well as bobo Parisians living in the area. Some local favorites are:
- Restaurant H by Chef Hubert Duchenne – 13 Rue Jean Beausire, 75004 – 1 Michelin star restaurant with tasting menus serving 5 to 7 dishes, Chef Duchenne was elected best young talent in French gastronomy in 2015.
- L’Ambroisie by Chef Bernard Pacaud – 9 Place des Vosges, 75004 – 3 Michelin starred restaurant in the Place des Vosges, luxury and refinement at its finest.
- Restaurant Benoit Paris by Chef Alain Ducasse – 20 rue Saint Martin 75004 – Opened in 1912, this is one of the few Parisian bistros to have a Michelin star in its pocket.
Other Cafés, Bistros and Brasseries
- Les Philosophes – 28 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75004 – All the classic French recipes, with great service and copious portions.
- Chez Mademoiselle – 16 Rue Charlemagne, 75004 – A mix of seafood and meat dishes in a friendly setting with a nice terrasse to enjoy in good weather.
- Pamela Popo – 15 Rue François Miron, 75004 – Romantic decor and excellent food, what could be better? A refined French menu that is sure to please.
You can find more ideas and ways of spending an evening in Paris here.
Bars and Nightlife
Le Marais has come a long way since its days as a swamp (Marais means swamp in french). Today it is filled with wine bars, pubs, and restaurants that it is quite hard to narrow it down.
Most of these places are quite small and don’t take reservations, so I would recommend walking around Rue Quincampoix to see where you can find a table. Some local favorites are:
- Le Pechoir Marais (rooftop bar on top of the BHV building, beautiful views of Hotel de Ville and the rest of Paris).
- Le Komptoir – 27 Rue Quincampoix, 75004 Paris
- Le Piment Café (small traditional French bar) – 15 Rue de Sévigné, 75004 Paris
- The Brklyn (good for cocktails) – 58 rue Quincampoix, 75004, Paris
- Lizard Lounge (American vibe. With DJ and dancing in the basement after 9 on weekends.) – 18 Rue du Bourg Tibourg, 75004 Paris
- Sherry Butt (whiskey and artisanal cocktails) – 20 Rue Beautreillis,75004 Paris
- Maria Loca (Brazilian vibe) – 31 Boulevard Henri IV, Paris 75004
LGBT and Gay bars in the Marais
The Marais also has a vibrant gay community in the area, so there are also plenty of gay bars nightclubs in the area.
- Freedj (club on 2 levels) – 35 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris
- COX – cozy bar at 15 Rue des Archives, 75004 Paris
- Quetzal Bar – cocktail bar at 10 Rue de la Verrerie, 75004 Paris
You can find more bars and nightlife options around Paris here.
Where to stay: Hotels and other accommodation
In the heart of the Marais, with shopping, restaurants, nightlife as well as some of the best attractions in Paris all within walking distance, you will love staying in the 4eme arrondissement. Some recommended hotels in the area are:
- €€€ – Hôtel du Vieux Marais
- €€€€ – Roi de Sicile – Rivoli (Luxury apartment hotel)
- €€€€€ – Cour des Vosges
You can find more accommodation options for the 4th arrondissement here.