Up to the 20 districts |
Up to the map of the buildings and sites in
Despite its small size, the 4th district occupies many pages in
your tourist guide of Paris. Even snobs will like it because it
hosts the Gay and Jewish quarters. The map is simple:
2nd| | rue des Francs-Bourgeois 11th
| | Beaub. \
| | Pl Pl.
| | Vosges Bastille
1st| | \
| | \
| | \
| | Hôtel \ 12th
| | d.Ville \
-| |------------------------. \
_| |_______ ______________ \ \
Ile Cité \ \ Ile St.Louis\ \ \
| | N-D \ \_____________\ \_________\
-| |--------' Seine
Everything in italics is outside the district. The 4th
district is the third smallest district in Paris (1.60
km2). Population was 30,675 in 1990 (3rd least populated
Le Corbusier, in its Plan Voisin, planned to replace much of Paris with
skyscrapers and high-speed roads, keeping only a few historical buildings in
the Marais. I am very, very glad that towns are
built by corrupt politicians and not by artists.
Notre-Dame, the City Hall, Beaubourg...
The 4th district owns the eastern part of Ile de la Cité,
including the cathedral Notre-Dame-de-Paris. Yes, you saw it in
movies and musicals. The place is usually crowded. Have a look at
Saint Denis's statue on the facade: he carries his head under his
arm. Also notice a mark on the ground in front of the church: it
indicates the starting point for all distance computations in
France. You are here in old Lutece. Read Asterix for
Then have a walk in the small streets behind the church, and take
Pont Saint-Louis. It will not lead you neither to the right bank nor
to the left bank, but to another island, Ile Saint-Louis. It's a
very calm island with small shops, restaurants and some of the best
situated and most expensive apartments in Paris.
On the right bank, the City Hall (Hôtel de Ville) is an impressive buildings. In front of the building, a square
in front of the City Hall hosts a free open-air skating rink during
the winter. It's very beautiful inside, but you probably won't have a
chance to see it.
More to the north stands the once controversial Georges-Pompidou
National Art and Culture Center, also known as Beaubourg. It
contains the Museum of Modern Art and a library. See Beaubourg
to understand why this ugly building is one of the most wonderful
treasures in Paris.
... le Marais, ...
The rest of the district is known as the Marais, which also
extends over the 3rd district. It's a former
swamp (marais), which was drained and became the home of
many kings and noblemen. From that time old mansions remain with their
French gardens, as well as the oldest houses of Paris in rue
François-Miron (one of which has turned into a swinger club). Young
people play basket in rue des Jardins along a medieval wall, from
which you can deduce that this very central quarter was once the limit
of Paris. More to the south and the east, Pavillon de l'Arsenal (metro
Sully-Morland) holds free and very interesting exhibitions about
North of rue de Rivoli, walk along rue des
Francs-Bourgeois. The narrow sidewalks get more and more crowded up
to Place des Vosges, a perfectly symmetrical square.
Night life in the district occurs mostly in the gay quarter,
around rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie. Rue Vieille-du-Temple marks
the limit between the gay quarter on the West and the Jewish quarter
on the East, around rue des Rosiers. The Marais, which was a
disreputable location a few decades ago, has turned into a very
fashionable quarter. Rents are high.
... and beyond
Eventually you'll get to Bastille, which will be described in
the 12th district.
After writing all this, I feel I have not been very
enthusiastic. The district is nice for walks, but I am not really fond
of it. Maybe that's because it's almost impossible to have a cheap
meal at 1 a.m. I wouldn't live in the Marais.