The Marais (Le Marais) is one of the most well-loved neighborhoods in Paris and deservedly so. It includes both the 3rd and 4th arrondissements on the Right Bank. Le Marais is the old Jewish Quarter, now the haunt of hipsters, gays, young people, artists, musicians, and the boho set, although apparently it is becoming gentrified. As wanderers, however, we are free to enjoy it as is. It’s an easy place to explore; even a short stroll is a wonderful experience. No maps or plans are needed. We started at the Hotel de Nice on the rue de Rivoli and just wandered down the streets. We discovered a multi-media modern art exhibit in a medieval stone building with gothic arches and an open atrium, free! A few doors down from the Hotel de Nice is an underground jazz club, which was featuring a Brazilian jazz concert. Etincelles next door had a 5 euro happy hour, which featured fresh raspberry mojitos, delicious, gorgeous, in frosted glasses, and served by an androgene. A work of art. The wander continues, with bookstores, second-hand stores, parks, statutes, tiny restaurants in leafy parks.
One of the historic sites is the rue des Rosiers, a pedestrian-only avenue. Our original goal was chocolate babka at Finkelsztajn’s bakery, aka La Boutique Jaune Sacha Finkelsztajn. Babka is a yeast bread, buttery, rich, flaky, and with threads of chocolate woven into the crumb. It is absolutely delicious and a real pain to make. Turns out, alas, that is only made on holidays or to order (“au command”). Although they were busy, the staff were very kind, offered me tastes of leke (a very light pound cake), and a good time was had by all.
Check it out at:
We got hungry and I got to realize a dream: to have tea at Le Loir dans le Theiere (the Dormouse in the Teapot). In fact, we had breakfast. Le Loir dans le Theiere is known as a “salon de the sympa”, i.e., a friendly tea house. It actually serves breakfast, brunch, and desserts until 7 pm. We elected a simple breakfast, with toasts, scrambled eggs, fruit, and the house blend tea. The eggs were perfect and the tea was delicate, floral, and complex. The café is covered in posters, playbills, and photos, old enough to be retro, not quite old enough to be vintage. The furniture is a charming mish-mosh of old school desks, chairs, a couple of soft sofas, and so on. Be careful what you choose: that school desk is very hard.
Turns out what we should have had was the lemon meringue pie. One of our fellow customers actually reserved a piece when she walked in. They make an assortment of desserts every day, in-house. The picture below barely conveys the beauty of the pie and the height of the meringue. Next time, I am going to sample a lot more of their offerings. I also snapped a picture of the well-worn door way.
There were chocolate shops, Fragonard around the corner, and much more.
Dreaming of babka . . . .