Paris 2019 | Marais Walking Tour

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Travel35 Comments

Before I share about our second day in Paris, I wanted to let you know that Mustard Seed Mentoring is opened again for new members!  My current group of creative entrepreneurs has been amazing to work with for the past few months and I have seen lots of growth and I’ve learned a lot myself!  If you’re a creative business owner (or thinking about starting a creative business), we’d love for you to join us!

You can get all of the details HERE.

One of my favorite experiences in Paris last year was a private walking tour (The Sweet Side of Paris), so I decided to schedule another tour for this visit.  These small tours are a great way to see the city and learn new things.  My mom, John, Wendy, and I decided to do the Treasures of the Marais Walking Tour.  We were all interested in the architecture and history of that district.

It was a wonderful tour!

Our small group of eight learned a lot about some of the key buildings and squares in that district and it was fascinating.

Our guide pointed out marks from the past, like damage from WWII bullets…

…and an 1830 cannonball stuck in the side of a building…

One of the most interesting places our guide pointed out was Campagnons Du Devoir…  (Ah, stupid broken iPhone camera.)

I was attracted to the blue facade before she even explained what was in it.  It is an apprenticeship/internship program where the young and/or inexperienced can learn from masters of their trade in a specific area of craftsmanship.  An intern studies with a master and will then travel through France to see how artisans in different regions work with that same material or technique.  This is how skills and art forms have been passed down for generations.

The intern, after much study, produces a masterpiece.  If accepted, they become a master and Compagnon – a fellow of the craft.  It is now their turn to pass their craftsmanship along to new interns.

Our guide explained that many of these masters have been hired to restore specific components (like ironwork, woodwork, carvings, etc,) of important buildings, including Notre Dame.

I loved this concept so much that I pulled out my journal and made notes, so I wouldn’t forget.  I recently had a conversation with Shaunna about mastery and here was a clear path for how someone becomes a master in a specific discipline.

The Marais district evolves from streets bustling with traffic, lined with modern shops, to cobblestone streets, quiet and narrow and seemingly frozen in time.

We were able to see two 17th century half-timber houses that were exposed (during the 1970s, I believe).  Many more homes were built in this same construction but were plastered over to reduce the risk of fire.  I grew to love half-timber houses when I lived in Germany, so I found them charming.

It’s hard to imagine a Paris street lined with half-timber homes, but this pair shows that was once the case.

Another highlight of the tour was popping into a church.  Unfortunately, I didn’t write it down and I can’t remember which one it is!

It was so ornate and beautiful inside, though.  I had the chance to tour several churches and cathedrals on this trip and I always have the urge to sing when I’m in them.  These buildings just seem suited to be filled with music.  A part of me wants the building all to myself for about five minutes, so I can test out the acoustics!  Does anyone else feel that?

Of course, I walked around quietly and just took pictures, appreciating the grand structure and immense scale.

And I’d love to hear someone playing that massive pipe organ.  What a magnificent instrument!

In this particular church, there was an infant baptism happening while we were there.  You can see the group on the alter and a couple of mothers holding their babies…

We also toured a few of the mansions in the Marais.  This was where being with a guide was particularly helpful because I wouldn’t have known it was free to walk inside the courtyards.

We learned about the history of these grand houses and their occupants.  I know history might sound boring to some, but this wasn’t about memorizing dates, this was about bringing these places to life through stories.  Stories are powerful and a common language of the heart of all people, no matter the time, language, or culture.  It wasn’t just about the symmetry and carved stone anymore.

The backdoor from one of the mansions led us into a large square of tri-colored buildings with a park in the middle.  And the park was bustling with an antique market!

Our tour ended in a beautiful walled garden around noon and we asked our guide for some suggestions for lunch at a classic Parisien cafe.  She suggested a square that was quiet and had several cafes to chose from.  I put it in the GPS and we headed off for lunch.

It was spitting rain along the way, so we took shelter under raincoats and umbrellas.  There was quite a bit of rain forecasted for our trip, but that ended up being the only rain we experienced.

We ate at Terrasse Sainte Catherine and our guide was right…  It was nestled in a charming square that insulated us from the bulk of the city noise.  I had a Croque Madame, my favorite French cafe food, and we enjoyed resting our feet after lots of walking.

Since we weren’t too far away from Luxembourg Gardens, we decided to walk through.  My mom and I didn’t have the chance to see the gardens last year.  I enjoyed watching the people almost as much as the buildings and manicured lawns and garden beds!  Couples were sitting in silence, holding hands.  Some were solo, reading or just taking in the day, feet propped up on another chair.  Children pushed sailboats with sticks from the edge of a man-made water feature.

We made our way across the grounds to St. Suplice Church…

This structure took 100 years to complete!  Things happen so quickly in our day and age that it’s hard to imagine someone working their entire life on a project without seeing it completed.  They were designed and built for their children and grandchildren, not for themselves.

People were sitting in the rushed wooden seats, heads bowed, hands clutched.  I couldn’t help but wonder if they were in the middle of a crisis or were intercessing for someone else.  Or perhaps that was just a routine part of their day.

The altar of this church was awesome in the truest sense of the word.

We also visited a fountain pen shop, but that’s a story in and of itself, so I’ll write about it in another post.

Our group decided to stop at another cafe to rest our feet again and have some drinks.  My travel companions ordered wine and I got water.  When the waitress put my water glass in front of me, she leaned in with a smile and said, “Go slow.”

There is playfulness and humor in all cultures.

We walked by the Eiffel Tower on our way back to the apartment and took a moment to be classic tourists.  Mom wanted me to take a picture of her “holding the Eiffel Tower.”  I tried to tell her that it didn’t really work, because of the trees, etc., but we tried it anyway, laughing at ourselves all the while.

We stopped by Rue Cler, which is just a couple of blocks from our apartment, to pick up a fresh baguette.  I also bought a mini raspberry beignet and it was just about the best thing I’ve ever had in my mouth.  I should’ve gone back that moment to buy a few more, but I didn’t and wasn’t able to buy one again the rest of our time in Paris.

I finished the 20,000+ step day sitting out on the balcony, watching the sunset, sketching and writing in my journal.

I didn’t love all of the sketches I made, but I loved the experience of making them.  I was present in that moment, paying attention to the world around me.  Whether the end result is an artistic success or not, it’s always a worthwhile endeavor.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the pen shop…

Paris 2019 | Marais Walking Tour

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35 Comments on “Paris 2019 | Marais Walking Tour”

  1. I always stay in the Marais when in Paris. Right now I’m hiking the last 200 miles of the El Camino de Santiago with my husband. He’s doing all 500 miles. I’m taking a friend to Paris in November as a reward for taking on this challenge. It will be her first trip and my eighth. You and I met at Haven, by the way.

  2. I love your description and photos – it makes me want to go back! My favorites were walking up the hill to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur, and of course Versailles. Can’ t wait to hear about the rest of your trip.

    1. Marian, I’m interested in the mentoring program but I’m not sure the link is working on the sign up page – at least it didn’t do anything when I clicked.

  3. If you haven’t read “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett you would probably enjoy it. It’s a fictional piece about building a cathedral in England. It was also made into a short TV series. Lots of drama and church intrigue, but visually the TV series was striking.

    1. The church is Saint-Gervais. It is one (if not the) oldest churches in Paris known for being both of the gothic and classic style.

    2. I too was thinking about the “Pillars of the Earth” while going through the photos. It is a great book!

  4. Two thoughts: First, if you are in a nearly empty church again, sing. It will be a memorable experience for you and any visitors. This is not quite the same, but my friend quietly asked if she could sing (extemporaneously) at the burial two weeks ago of my beloved sister who’d died of ALS, and there under the clear Missouri sky she lifted her heart (and ours) in a clear beautiful voice that I shall never forget. It was balm to our mourning souls.
    Second: I appreciate these “tours” more than you know. I can tell by the sweet expressions on your faces that this was not a rushed trip, and just like the raspberry beignet, you savoured each “bite.”

  5. Wow!!! The picture of the bullet holes on the building kinda take your breath away. The churches are so beautiful.
    Looks like you had a great time and how wonderful to share this with your mom.
    More pictures, please.

  6. The market seems to be in the Pl. de Vosges. Did you see that the Marais is the old Jewish quarter… Rue de Rosiers. The Musee Carnavalet, the Museum of the city of Paris is also fascinating.

  7. Thank you, that was wonderful, i love european countries and the way they have kept all that history and buildings so long. So many families and stories to be told and wonder about.

  8. Did your guide explain the history behind Place des Vosges? It’s quite I teresting. We once wandered into St Sulpice while an organist was practicing on that beautiful instrument. Like everyone else that day, we just sat down for the remainder of the practice. It was amazing!

  9. What is a Croquet Madame? You are a great tour guide treating your readers to wonderful descriptions of the sites you are seeing. That picture of the Eiffel Tower with the sun behind the clouds is breathtaking. Paris is just awesome, especially the pastries!

  10. What a lovely little tour! The churches are beautiful, and I’m like you, I long to hear them filled with music. One of the highlights of my first trip to London was attending a regular Sunday Eucharist At Westminster Abbey – choir and all.

    If you’ve never read it I highly recommend Ken Follett’s _Pillars of the Earth_ about the design and building of a Gothic cathedral in England.

  11. Beautiful detailed pictures and described very well. I won’t ever get to Paris but happy to see it through your eyes. You make it so interesting. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  12. I would dearly love to commune in one of those old beautiful sanctuaries. ARE there options for someone who cannot walk as you did?

  13. Thank you for taking the time to share the details of your experiences in Paris. It’s great to be able to get a sense of those parts of your trip. I’m looking forward to the fountain pen shop story next!

  14. What a wonderful visit, great photos and a perfect balcony.
    I can not get enough of looking at the details of the grand facades. When you think that some buildings you photographed, faced with their own front yard were private homes, called hotel particulier.
    St. Sulpice Church is a famous grand religious place, large and pompous, some rich and famous marry there.
    We live in a village of the same name, our St. Sulpice church is older, smaller of course and older, 12th century,
    roman style with an hexagonal tour, quite rare, sadly it need help for the roof leaks.
    Paris is beautiful, busy, noisy, polluted and so beautiful, unique.

  15. I find it so interesting that the cathedrals are so ornate and magnificent, and the seating just hard wooden chairs. No comfort there I guess. I would have thought they would at least have wooden pews.

  16. EXCELLENT post! I love reading about your adventure and I LOVE your hair; it’s so cute!!!!

  17. I enjoyed seeing all your photos of Paris and reading your commentary! The watercolor in your sketch book of scenery from your balcony is beautiful!

  18. I was interested to see your post today after watching an episode of HGTV’s House Hunters International just last night. They were searching in Paris, wanted the Marais district and ended up purchasing a very small studio apartment in that very same medieval half timbered building you admired. One of the 3 oldest buildings in Paris. The price was $350,000.00!

  19. I’m sharing your posts with my daughter, who will be in Paris in 2 weeks (for her 1st time) for her honeymoon. I’m so jealous that she’s getting to go. I told her we will go, just she and I, in a year or two. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind. 🙂

  20. Lovely photo’s~ thank you for sharing.
    I adore the fun and pics you of you and your mom~ together and in fun.
    Cherish her now as it’s fleeting.
    Peace~ Cynthia

  21. Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve wanted to go to Paris since I was eighteen and here I am, 42 years later and still want to go. Not sure it will ever happen so I’m living vicariously through your travels,

  22. I so Very much wish I could have traveled more with my dear Mother. She died at 64,after having been a picture of health!
    I thought we had years ahead of us to do things! We did a lot of day trips, but not any overnights.
    I can not express to you enough to spend as much time as you can with her. Those memories will help you survive!
    Thank you for sharing your trip with us!

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