Le Marais is one of the few neighborhoods in the city center of Paris that retains its medieval core of narrow wandering streets. It is home to a diverse population from Orthodox Jews to gay pubs and nightclubs. It is full of little art galleries, boutiques, shops and restaurants, where cutting-edge cohabits with the ancient.
The look of the Orthodox Jewish center appears to be late 19th century/early 20th century Art Nouveau, which surprises a bit that it survived the Nazi occupation.
Just across the street and down a half a block is Le Petit Thai restaurant, with its cute elephant sign. I don’t yet know the significance if there is any, to why it seems there are always Thai restaurants in gay neighborhoods.
A beautiful wrought-iron door knocker on a weathered wooden door in the Marais:
A man out walking his dog on the Rue Sevigne. The church in the background is the Eglise St. Paul-St. Louis, which housed the hearts of Louis XIII and XIV (after they were dead, of course) until the French Revolution. The current structure dates back to the 17th century.
The Marais is perforated with a profusion of residential courtyards which remain invisible to the passer-by unless the massive doors at the street are open. Here is a view into one of these courtyards. They retain a very distinct feel of Old Paris where things are quieter and slower-paced. Entering one feels like stepping back in time, a peaceful oasis utterly cut off from the hustle and bustle of the city outside.
Eugene Atget took many of his most famous images in and around the Marais as the city was being surrendered to Haussmannization during the Second Empire/Third Republic periods. One of his regular subjects was the Bibliotheque de Paris, originally built as a hotel (town-house for a noble family) in the 17th century. Today it houses the city library. This view is of the entrance gates to the courtyard.
A door into the courtyard, marked Sortie (exit). Not too much exiting going on through this door, though, if the giant potted palm visible in the left-hand window has anything to say about it.
All images shot with my Rolleiflex 2.8E, using Kodak Tri-X film.