Paris: A Cheapo day in the Marais

Posted in: Paris Sights

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Marais Falafel
Lining up for Falafel in the Marais. Photo: Chris Gold

By Bryan Pirolli in Paris—

The Marais, one of Paris’ most adorable neighborhoods, is home to chic boutiques, hip restaurants, and royal scenery. The trendy area also boasts rents that rival Manhattan’s Chelsea and West Village (with a gay culture to match!). However, there is plenty for Cheapos to enjoy as they walk through the city’s historical Jewish quarter and vestige of medieval Paris.

Here are a few suggestions for spending a fabulous (and Cheapo) day in the Marais:

1. Coffee kick-off

Start your walk out with a coffee at the old-worldly Café Les Philosophes (28, rue Vieille du Temple). The white-apron-clad waiters serve up standard espresso at decent prices. Moreover, the people-watching is amazing.

2. Vintage wears

Next, stroll one block north and turn right onto the rue des Rosiers, a tiny street lined with Kosher eateries, falafel joints, and boutiques.

Victor Hugo House

Chez Victor Hugo. Photo: Fofo

Stroll past the eateries (for now) until you arrive at the quirky vintage shop called Vintage Désir (32, rue des Rosiers). Men and women can appreciate the many inexpensive vintage clothing options, but be prepared to dig and be elbowed by fashion-forward Frenchies.

Nearby Free ‘P’ Star (8, rue St-Croix de la Bretonnerie) and The King of Frip (33, rue du Roi de Sicile) are some other great alternatives to the pricey boutiques.

3. Falafel break

For cheap eats in the neighborhood, skip the restaurants and indulge in the area’s delicious falafel joints. You might initially scoff at the idea of eating falafel in Paris, but after one bite from famed L’As du Fallafel (34, rue des Rosiers) you’ll agree with Lenny Kravitz (their celebrity patron) that it’s the best in the world. And at only €5, it’s a steal for Paris. When the guy at the counter asks you a question, say, “Oui” – he is asking if you want spicy sauce!

Across the street is Micky’s Deli, a play on the New York deli scene, which offers a burger, fries, and drink for only €8.50.

4. Visiting Victor

For some culture, continue down rue des Rosiers and turn left towards the Place des Vosges, the royal square built under King Henry IV, France’s beloved king. If the quaint park and uniformly beautiful buildings aren’t enough, head over to the Maison de Victor Hugo (6, Place des Vosges). Here the author of the “Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Les Misérables” lived, and its permanent collection is free to visit. It’s open every day but Monday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

5. Time for an aperitif

You must be exhausted — and thirsty! It’s time for an aperitif. Don’t avoid drinking in the Marais simply because you assume that prices will be high. Rather, indulge in the happy hour culture and grab a pint for €3.70 at the Open Café (17, rue des Archives, happy hour from 6-10 p.m.), a gay hotspot that’s also “straight-friendly.”

If you want a more mixed crowd, head over to La Perle (78, rue Vieille du Temple) for an inexpensive glass (or carafe) of wine. The young hipster crowd spills out onto the sidewalk until closing on weekends.

After a cheapo day in the Marais, you’ll be well fed, more cultured, and probably tipsy enough to think that your new vintage hat really does look incredible on you. Hey, it’s the Marais. Anything goes!

Your favorite places in the Marais

Do you have a favorite place to visit in the Marais? Share with us in the comments section!

About the author

Bryan Pirolli

About the author: With his college diploma fresh off the press, Bryan Pirolli headed for Paris and four years later he’s still there. A journalist and a tour guide, his main M.O. is pursuing a doctorate degree in communications at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. Bryan regularly travels on a budget, experiencing the best of European culture while still trying to make rent.  So far, so good. You can follow his adventures on his blog: www.bryanpirolli.com.

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2 thoughts on “Paris: A Cheapo day in the Marais”

  1. Pingback: 5 tips for parents visiting their college student abroad | Brendan Linard

  2. Some of my favorite addresses! I don’t know of Mickey’s – can you believe it? Will have to check that out! We spend a lot of time at Le Musee de la Magie on rue St Paul — my kids love this place! I recently went back to Chez Marianne (which I thought was the place Lenny says is the best falafel in the world!) and they do have great falafel — not as messy and decadent to eat as L’As but still good. Have you checked out the small nook that sells hot dogs – I forget the name/street but it’s a small hole in the wall just off Rivoli and has the tall vats of mustard and ketchup in the window.

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