Le Marais, which means "the marsh" in French, is a district in Paris, France. though it is far from a March today. The name Le Marais also comes from "maraichers", i.e. vegetable gardens. The area was outside the original 12th century walls of Paris. These marshlands were cleared by the Knights Templar to create a garden for its chapter house and soon other religious orders followed suit.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, the aristocracy built large residences in the area, a trend which was accelerated by the creation of the Place Royale (which would become the Place des Vosges) by Henri IV in 1605 but with the moving of the royal court from the Louvre in 1682 to Versailles the aristocrats followed suit. This departure, led to a decline in the district.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth century, the area surrounding the Rue des Rosiers was revived becoming the home to many Jews from Eastern Europe. During the German occupation of Paris, the Marais was a target for the Nazis. Following Liberation in 1944, the district again went slowly into a decline. Though the rue des Rosiers is still a major centre of the Paris Jewish community. Walls feature announcements of Jewish events, there are bookshops specializing in Jewish books, and there are also numerous restaurants and other outlets selling kosher food. The synagogue 10, rue Pavée not far from rue des Rosiers is a strong religious center.
In 1969, began another revival. Andre Malraux made the Marais the first protected sector (secteur sauvegarde) of Paris. This protection measure can lead to odd results. As when shops are closed and sold their facades cannot be redone when changing businesses, as such you can find shops with a traditional "bakery" front selling fashionable clothing.
The since the 1980’s the neighbourhood again experienced a rejuvenation and a growing gay presence, with many trendy cafés, nightclubs, cabarets and shops. These establishments are mainly concentrated in the southwestern portion of the Marais, many on or near the streets Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie and Vieille du Temple.
Le Marais today is a vibrant and interesting community which is spread across parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, on the Rive Droite, or Right Bank, of the Seine.
One of the most interesting streets in the area is the famous rue des Francs-Bourgeois, one of the rare streets of Paris with all of its shops open on Sunday.
Other features of the neighbourhood include the Musee Picasso, the houses of Nicolas Flamel and Victor Hugo, the Musée Cognacq-Jay, Hôtel de Sully and the Musée Carnavalet.