Le Marais on Google Earth (KMZ File)
Marais, literally "the swamp", was originally
exactly that. It wasn't until the 13th century that
convents came to the area and it began to develop life
and culture. The neighborhood became part of Paris when
Charles V reinforced and extended the city wall
constructed under Philippe Auguste. Charles V then moved
to the Hotel St-Paul in the Marais, but his successors
preferred the Hotel des Tournelles. It was here that
Henri II died, following a wound from a tournament.
Catherine de Medicis later had the mansion torn
The Place Royale (now the place des Vosges), built by Henry IV, was finished in 1612 and the Marais became a very stylish neighborhood, home of many grand French mansions and "salons", a sort of intellectual and philosophical conversation group. But after the Henry IV's assassination (by Ravaillac) and Louis XIII's accession, the high society left the area and it was taken up by artisans and small industries.
Today, a trip around the Marais shows the numerous restorations it has seen. The neighborhood contains some of the oldest buildings in Paris, and their architectural treasures make the Marais a charming and unforgettable place to visit.