A little known part of the city centre. The Marais or The Marshes were initially swamps and marshes which the order of the Templars had drained in the 12th and 13th C. Later they became the quarter of Christian societies and monasteries, as can be seen today from some street names. In the 16th C. the nobility began to build mansions here, the so-called hôtels.
The district became fashionable at the beginning of the 17th C. when the palaces around Place des Vosges were built. In those years the French Mannerist style of city mansions was developed here. In the 18th C. the aristocracy moved to the west and Marais slowly dilapidated.
André Malraux, Charles de Gaulle’s minister of culture, was a restoration enthusiast. He had many buildings cleaned and renovated. One of his most important deeds were the Malraux-laws of 1962. In the wake of them 126 hectares of the Marais have been restored to their original splendour. Since then the Marais have been on the upswing and well-off people have moved in.
The main attraction of this walk is the thrilling Pompidou museum in Palais Beaubourg. But first we are making our acquaintance with the Marais.
Hotel de Sens
We start our walk at the Pont Marie metro station. From there we walk a few meters along the bank and turn to the left into the first street. There we see the back side of Hôtel de Sens. We pass it to see it from its front side.
One of the most important houses of architectural history in Paris, one of two medieval palaces that have been preserved. It was built 1474-1507 for the archbishop of Sens. Its Gothic castle style is obvious in rounded corner-towers, in a pointed arch over the entrance and in tower spires. Access to the palace garden is through the main entrance.