36 hours in… the Marais

A few days in the Marais packs in the very best of Paris. Hip food, fashion and nightlife have transformed the city’s historic and most gay-friendly district into a not-to-be-missed adult playground. Start on rue des Rosiers, the heart of the Jewish Quarter, where tough competition plays out between the neighbourhood’s kitchens. Bypass the falafel wars and bite into fresh bagels at Sacha Finkelsztajn instead.

If you’re here for an art hit, tick newcomer Lafayette Anticipations off your list. Then head to Galerie Pierre-Yves Caër for cutting-edge Japanese works or Galerie Collection for exquisite ceramics. Thanks to car-free Sundays and a warren of quiet side streets, Le Marais is just made for promenades. We’ve picked the best spots for your wanders.

    • Settle in with an apéro

      Pick a tome from the bookshelf, hoist yourself on a barstool and order something fruity from the excellent wine list at La Belle Hortense. Wine’s the star at Vin des Pyrénées, but the cocktails and little terrace aren’t bad, either. Unpretentious Résistance is all about uplifted French spirits. Look out for their Breton events, manned by stripy-topped barmen cheerily fixing crêpes.

    • Get your culture fix

      Colourful tubes and exposed mechanics encase the Museum of Modern Art at the Pompidou Centre. Don’t miss the faithful reconstruction of Brancusi’s workshop. In elegant Hôtel Salé, the Musée Picasso collection spans his many coloured periods, plus sketchbooks and objets d’art. The spirit of rock endures at Le Bataclan, the city’s most colourful concert hall. Its Chinoiserie façade is worth a look, even if you’ve not scored a gig ticket.

    • Déjeuner spots

      Stop by Nanashi, a breezy, no-nonsense spot for salmon chirashi, creative bento boxes and fresh juices. Pint-sized D Noodles serves cockle-warming Chongqing noodles. Punters sit facing the wall, but who needs chat when you’re slurping? The food stalls at the Marché des Enfants Rouges get mobbed at weekends: try Lebanese galettes, rosti and creole black pudding.

    • Afternoon stops

      Carette’s dinky tarts and luscious éclairs are just the thing to nibble on in pretty Place des Vosges. Soak up Swedish culture at Institut Suédois and grab a sweet-scented cinnamon roll from the charming café. Or perch on a stool at Boot Café – this tiny cobbler-turned-coffee shop serves properly good brews.

    • Dinner

      Nab a terrace table at Au Petit Fer à Cheval for the best people-watching in town and dishes so old-school they’re cool. At Israeli joint Miznon, tuck into pitas stuffed with melting ratatouille, spiced and breaded fish, or off-piste tatin apples. The small plates at Homies (tahini cauliflower, lamb pastille) are artfully dressed and undeniably tasty.

    • Last-minute shopping

      There’s much to be thankful for in Merci, Paris’s most beloved general store: madcap interiors, hard-to-find labels… and the café’s irresistible crumble. Achingly cool Mad Lords x Archives stocks rock-star jewellery, buttery-soft leather jackets and must-have vintage trainers. Wallet-friendly concept store The Frankie Shop has a New York vibe. Stock up on minimalist knickers and eco-friendly denim wash.

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