Thursday, April 16, 2015

Marais, Paris - Our Easter Holiday Continued

Ohhhh Paris, are there any words sufficient to describe you?  You steal my heart. 
We stayed in a beautiful apartment with soaring ceilings and heavy wood beams, solid wood plank floors, and large square white paneled windows in the Marais district, now easily my favorite neighborhood in Paris.

It was such a thrill walking down the cobblestone streets, soaking in the heavy, ornate doors and august marble and stone walls, knowing that these were streets stemming from at least the French revolution, and in many instances extending back to medieval times.
They really, truly don't make city streets like this any more.
There were tons of shops and boutiques.  Some were highly specialized (like this tiny sausage and cured meats shop tucked into a little corner).
 Colorful window displays abounded.
A little history lesson: the Marais was the aristocratic district of Paris from the 12th century through the 14th, and many churches were built in this neighborhood during the period.  From the 15th century through the 17th,  the Marais was the nobility's favorite residence.  Many urban mansions were constructed during this period.  The king also built his Royal Palace (now the place des Vosges) during this time.  From the end of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th, the Marais was a thriving commercial community, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.  In the mid-20th century it became associated with mostly a working class neighborhood.  In the late 1980s and early 90s, the neighborhood began to see a flourishing renaissance, with lots of art galleries and fashionable boutiques lining the streets.  Now it is arguably one of the most chic and trendy neighborhoods in Paris!

It also happens to be the stomping grounds of the Chinese community in Paris.  Near the Republique metro, we suddenly started seeing a lot of signs in French and Chinese - like the signs on this wedding shop!

We went to mass on Easter Sunday at this beautiful church, the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris.  It was a local, simple affair, albeit with an abundance of frankincense.  Even though we couldn't understand a word of it, Michael and his brother tell me that they knew exactly what was happening and when, because the rhythms and the cadence of a Catholic mass are so universally similar and familiar. 

 We were also near the National Archives.
 There was a beautifully curated, intimate garden within.
 We were blessed with bright blue skies and lots of sunshine.

 About 90% of my love for Paris stems from the street culture.  I love, love, love these bistros and cafes with chairs artfully arranged on the sidewalk.  What a way to savor the city life! 

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