This time last year I was in Paris, and to say that I’m feeling nostalgic would be an understatement. It’s my favorite city, the place where I feel most “me”, and it’s here that has been the backdrop for so many of my life events. It’s hard to not feel attached to a place like that.
When we went back with my parents last summer, I knew immediately in which neighborhood I wanted us to stay. My favorite- the 4th arrondissement of Paris, also known as Le Marais (luh mahr-ray).
For those who may be unfamiliar with Paris, this city is broken up into small administrative neighborhoods, also known as “arrondissements”. Starting with the 1st, the neighborhoods spiral clockwise from the city center, earning it the nickname “the snail”. The 4th is one such neighborhood.
Located on the right bank of the Seine, Le Marais boasts a rich history that has seen it’s fair share of dark days, as well. As the Jewish neighborhood of Paris, you will find plaques outside the schoolhouses, to lay memorial to all its children who were sent to the horrific concentration camps during World War II. Juxtaposed by this, are the rainbow flags which line the streets, as the 4th has become center of the gay community in Paris.
Located in the heart of Paris, the 4th is home to many tourist attractions- Notre Dame being arguably the most well known.
For me, as a lover of French history, one of my favorite sites is one that receives a bit less acclaim on the global stage- Hôtel de Ville. During the French Revolution, the revolutionaries of Paris tore up the calendar, and created their own, known as the French Republican calendar. It was here, during the 11th month of Thermidor (roughly July), that a counter-revolution took place, and the people of Paris turned on Maximilian Robespierre- the man whose inspiration sparked much of the Revolution.
The man who championed the guillotine for the monarchy, was now the city’s most wanted man, and in effort to evade arrest, he and his top level comrades came here, to the Hôtel de Ville to hide from the angry Parisians. When they were discovered, many unsuccessfully attempted suicide, they were arrested and taken to the guillotine the following day. This would later be recognized as the beginning of the end of the French Revolution, and it all happened in the 4th.
Beyond the historical monuments, the 4th is a friendly neighborhood, equally known for its great food, like L’As du Fallafel and affordable shopping. Walk down Rue de Rivoli and you will see this to be true.
While Paris on whole is an amazing city, the 4th arrondissement will always be special to me. And I’m willing to bet, that if you visit it during your next trip, it will capture your heart as well.