From the Latin Quarter to the Marais

One morning in September 2011, a group of VirtualTourist members met at the Square René Viviani in the Latin Quarter of Paris (with the church of Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre in the background) for a walking tour led by VT member Paul Smith, who took us through some side streets of the Latin Quarter, across the river, through the Île Saint Louis and on to parts of the Marais district.

VirtualTourist members in the Latin Quarter

This tour was part of a four-day VirtualTourist meeting in Paris that was attended by about forty VT members from various countries, including Australia, Spain, Malaysia, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and even France.

Wall paintings at 1 rue des Grands Degrés

On the rue des Grands Degrés in the Latin Quarter, Paul pointed out these wall paintings, which he said were originally intended as advertising — for the painter, E. Gautier.

Paul and Steve on Pont de la Tournelle

The Pont de la Tournelle is a bridge connecting the Latin Quarter with the Île Saint Louis.  As you can see, it is the ideal place to have your picture taken with the Cathedral Notre-Dame in the background.

On the Île Saint Louis

After walking through the island of Saint Louis (which I have described in detail here), we crossed over another bridge, Pont Marie, to get to the Marais district on the right bank of the Seine.

Hôtel de Sens

Our first stop on the right bank was the Hôtel de Sens. This is a “hôtel” in the old sense of the word, meaning mansion. It was built from 1475 to 1507 for the archbishop of Sens, which is a town 100 km southeast of Paris. Presumably the archbishop also had a mansion down in Sens, in addition to this one in Paris.

From one of my favorite guidebooks, the Michelin Guide Vert, I later learned that from 1689 to 1743 the Hôtel de Sens served as the arrival and departure point for the service of stage coaches (diligences) between Paris and Lyon. “The journey was dangerous. Before leaving, the travelers went to the trouble of making their testaments.”

The Hôtel de Sens now houses a library, the Bibliothèque Forney, which was founded in the nineteenth century thanks to a legacy by a merchant named Aimé Samuel Forney (1819-1879).

The Village of Saint-Paul

We also took a walk through the Village of Saint-Paul, an historic neighborhood of small streets behind Saint Paul’s Church. According to a plaque at the site, this neighborhood was restored and developed between 1970 and 1981.

Buskers and VirtualTourist members at Place des Vosges

From there, it was just a short walk to the Place des Vosges, where we encountered two buskers playing violins under the arches.

Rue des Rosiers

Finally, we walked through the Rue des Rosiers (Street of the Rosebushes), which is where I lived for two months in the autumn of 1962 and again for a month and a half in the autumn of 1966. Some of us from the VirtualTourist group got falafel (to go) at L’As du Fallafel at number 34.

My photos in this post are from 2011. I revised the text in 2021.

See more posts on the Marais district of Paris.
See also: A walking tour of Montmartre, another VirtualTourist tour led by Paul Smith.

10 thoughts on “From the Latin Quarter to the Marais”

  1. We visited Paris in 2018. It was a great trip. We stayed in the 6th arrondissement, about 10 min walking distance to the Latin Quarter. Your blog brought the memories of our trip. Thank you 😊

  2. People with same interests doing things they love..this is the essence of it all.
    Pre covid, these things are quite the normal norm.I attend quite a number of local tours here to explore the local sightings with a guide,sad to say that this industry is suffereing much because of the Corona restrictions.

  3. Great to see a lot of familiar faces, but a bit poignant for me too as I should have been at this meet but was prevented from coming because of ill health 🙁

  4. I’ve visited the Latin Quarter and le Marais countless of times, but I’ve only really checked out the main sights in those respective quartiers. There is so much to explore in the small side streets, the nooks and crannies of each shop and restaurant that it could take a lifetime to see them all! Thanks for sharing the beauty of these parts of Paris. 🙂

    1. I particularly like the green guide for Paris. I also have some of the regional guides, which are interesting but very much oriented towards car travel, which makes them less useful for me as a non-motorist.

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