The 4th is a good chunk of what used to be medieval Paris, and you'll find a lot left from that time on both islands and in the narrow streets of the lower Marais. Meanwhile there's lots that's contemporary to look at especially at the Centre Georges Pompidou where you'll find a lot of the very best contemporary art.
At night the 4th has several of the most active bar scenes most travelers will have ever seen, including the lower Marais district which is sometimes known as gay Paris although there are no shortage of bars catering to straight singles or a mixed crowd, or in the early evening even families.
The 4th is a very centrally located arrondissement, right between the Châtelet and Bastille areas, two of Paris' main transportation (metro, RER and bus) hubs.
Being such a touristy district it is very hard to find parking spaces. It's much easier to use the Metro.
Several subway stations on lines 1, 4, 7 and 11 dot this area and are convenient for exploring its attractions.
Station Hôtel de Ville on Ligne 1 (La Defense/Chateau de Vincennes) and Ligne 11 (Chatelet/Mairie des Lilas) - Access from near the junction of Rue de Renard and Rue de Rivoli.
Station Cité on Ligne 4 (Porte d'Orleans (General Leclerc)/Porte de Clignancourt) - Access off the Boulevard du Palais (infront of Palais de Justice on the Ile de Cité).
Station St. Paul on Ligne 1 (La Defense/Chateau de Vincennes) - Access off the Rue de Rivoli.
Station Rambuteau on Ligne 11 (Chatelet/Mairie des Lilas) - Access from near the junction of Rue de Renard and Rue Rambuteau.
Station Pt. Marie on Ligne 7 (Villejuif - Louis Aragon / Mairie d'Ivry/La Courneuve - 8 mai 1945) - Access from Quai de l'Hotel de Ville
Station Sully Morland on Ligne 7 (Villejuif - Louis Aragon / Mairie d'Ivry/La Courneuve - 8 mai 1945) - Access near the junction of Boulevard de Henri IV and Quai des Celestins.
Unlike the metro, buses can be a great way of moving around and seeing the city's landscape, although you risk being caught in traffic. The most useful lines are 70, 72 and 74, which stop at the Hôtel de Ville, and lines 75 and 76, which run through Rue de Rivoli.
The neighbouring Châtelet and Bastille stations are also served by the Noctilian (night bus), running from half past midninght to 5.30 am. Lines 33, 34 and 132 run between them with no intermediate stops, but there are many others arriving and leaving from both to several destinations around town.
Walk, walk and walk! This arrondissement is compact enough to be explored on foot and that's probably just what you'll want to do anyway. Otherwise, the metro may be not be too useful for covering short distances, but you may still want to use the bus line 76 for the Châtelet-Bastille itinerary or line 67 for Châtelet - Île St. Louis, especially if you have a card for multiple trips.
The RATP network has bicycles (vélos) for rent next to the Bastille station:
- Maison Roue Libre, 37, bd Bourdon, ☎ 4271-5454, . 9 am to 7 pm. 10-15 euros/day.
- Notre-Dame de Paris (Notre Dame Cathedral), Ile de la Cité 6, Place du Parvis Notre Dame F-75004 Paris (Metro: St Michel), ☎ +33-1-42 34 56 10 ([email protected], fax: +33-1-40 51 70 98), . 7:45 AM to 6:45 PM. The early Gothic Cathédrale de Notre Dame (Our Lady) has a 12th century design but wasn't completed until the 14th. Still it is a good example of the development of the style, though the west or main portal is a bit unusual in its rigidity. Remember that this is an active church, there may even be a mass going on. Meanwhile anybody who's interested in history should check out the crypt, in which you can observe the foundation stones for buildings on the island going back to Roman times.
- Hôtel de Ville, Place de la Hôtel de Ville (Metro: Hôtel de Ville). Many feel that this, Paris' city hall, is one of the loveliest buildings in town. You might not get that from the front view, but try watching the light change on its roofs and towers during sunset from one of the cafés on the Ile de St. Louis, the Lutece for instance. Alternatively, go to the top floor of the Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville (BHV) department store opposite, on rue de Rivoli and walk up a flight of stairs to the roof terrace (terrasse), from which there is a dramatic view of both the roof of the Hôtel de Ville and the immediate surroundings and river. The present Hôtel de Ville replaced the 16th century original which was burned down during the Commune in 1871. A pastiche of its predecessor, but on a far larger scale, it was built by the the architects Ballu and Deperthes, chosen after a competition, and was mostly completed by 1882. The building is lavishly, and some would say heavy-handedly, decorated both inside and out, and finished in an arrestingly white stone, similar to that used for the even more eye-catching Sacre-Coeur basilica. The statue on the garden wall on the south side is of Etienne Marcel, the most famous holder of the post of 'prevôt des marchands' (provost of merchants) which predated the office of mayor. Marcel came to a sticky end, lynched in 1358 by an angry mob after trying to assert the city's powers a little too energetically. The current mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, a socialist and the city's first openly gay leader, shares some of Marcel's ambition and almost shared his fate. He was stabbed in the building in 2002 during the first all-night, city-wide Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche) festival when the long inaccessible building's doors were thrown open to the public. But Delanoe recovered and has not lost his zeal for access, later converting the mayor' sumptuous private apartments into a creche for the children of municipal workers. The Hôtel de Ville was for many years the private fiefdom of Jacques Chirac, now France's president, and was the site of a scandal centering on both illegal jobs given to Chirac's party members and an immense entertainment budget. General de Gaulle greeted the crowds from a front window in 1944 when Paris was liberated from the Germans and Robespierre was shot in the jaw and arrested in the original building in 1794. Admirers of Hôtel de Ville's architecture will want to know that Ballu also built the Church of La Trinité in the 9th arrondissement and the belfry of the town hall of the 1st arrondissement, opposite the Louvre's east facade.
- Tour St Jacques a gothic church tower in a square 150 meters to the west of the Hôtel de Ville was restored by Ballu, is all that remains of Eglise Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie, which was the meeting place in Paris for Pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compestela, as such it is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France. It is currently under restoration and will be be covered for a few years to come.
Map of the 4th Arrondissement
- la Bastille, (Metro: Bastille). Enter Bastille station through any entrance or on any train and then make your way to the Bobigny/Pablo Picasso bound platform. All that's left of the fortress whose front steps used to lead up from place de la Bastille are some foundation stones which you can see while waiting for a north bound train on this metro platform. There are maps and explanations showing where the fortress used to be relative the place and surroundings (basically the location of the old front steps are now occupied by Café des Phares).
- Le Mémorial de la Shoah (The Holocaust Memorial), 17 rue Geoffroy l’Asnier, ☎ 01 42 77 44 72, . Mo-We,Fr,Su 10AM-6PM; Th 10AM-10PM. Opened in January 2005, this Holocaust Memorial comprises a major documentation centre and a wall bearing 76,000 names of Jews deported from France to the Nazi camps between 1942-1944. Includes an archive of a million artifacts, including 55,000 photographs. Excursions are run from the Memorial to French internment camp sites such as Drancy. Admission free.
Museums and Galleries
- Centre Georges Pompidou, Place George Pompidou (Metro: Rambuteau), . Closed Tu, 11AM-10PM. Those who are unfamiliar with conceptual art sometimes don't know quite what to expect, or how to approach it. Such travelers should rest assured that the curators at the Pompidou Centre have assembled a marvelous introduction consisting of mostly approachable works which delight, amuse, and entertain. The art is far from the only reason for a visit, as the building also contains a vast public library and a fine restaurant (run by the Costes brothers) on the roof. In fact the place is literally surrounded by some of the nicest sidewalk cafés in the city, in it's superb location between the car-free above ground part of Forum Les Halles and the Marais art district. €8-10.
- Maison de Victor Hugo, 6 Place des Vosges (Metro: Saint-Paul or Bastille, Bus 20,29,65,69,96), ☎ +33 01 42 72 10 16 (fax: +33 01 41 72 06 64). Everyday 10AM-6PM. The house in which the famous French novelist Victor Hugo once lived.
- Hotel de Sully, 62 rue Saint-Antoine (Metro: Saint-Paul or Bastille, Bus 69, 76, 96), ☎ +33 01 (fax: +33 01), . Everyday 9AM-7PM. Built in 1625, the Hotel de Sully is an interesting house with some sculptures in a beautiful courtyard. The house features special exhibitions so check listings when in Paris.
The Lutece on the Ile de St. Louis
Most of the things to do in the 4th are covered in other sections of this guide, with the main thing to do being to explore. Of particular interest is the Île Saint Louis (complete with having an ice-cream or sorbet from Berthillon), the Hôtels Particuliars, and the Pletzle particularly rue des Rosiers and the area around Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine.
Over the last decade, the rue des Francs-Bourgeois has become a shopping destination for clothes and accessories. Go during the July or January soldes and pick up some Anne-Fontaine outfits, Camper shoes, or trendy mens clothing at Melchoir at bargain basement prices.
- Marché aux Fleurs et Marché aux Oiseaux (Flower Market and Bird Market), Place Louis Lepine (Metro: Cité, Saint Michele or Châtelet). On the north side of the Ile de la Cité, the main island at the center of Paris you'll find a burgeoning daily flower market, where you can buy just about any type of flower, and oddly enough a range of exotic tropical birds.
- Opéra BD, 2 rue des Tournelles (Metro: Bastille), ☎ +33 1 44 54 95 12, . Everyday, 11AM-midnight. Comics (Bandes Dessinées) are a serious art form in France and even regular corporate bookstores have a good selection, but it's much better to look for them where they are really appreciated, in one of Paris' many private BD dealers. This one is friendly, well stocked, and keeps late hours so pay them a visit if you would like to pick up a copy of one of the many volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub in French.
- Mariage Frères, 30 & 35 rue de Bourg-Tibourg (Métro: Hotel de Ville). If you love tea, you'll love this old salon de the in the Marais.
- B.H.V. (Bazar de l'Hotel de Ville), 52 rue de Rivoli (Metro Hôtel de Ville), . Is a general store with most of everything : clothes, perfumes, furniture, you name it --it's especially famous for its basement section, dedicated to handywork & DIY --think of it as a small Home Depot in a basement... though with French hardware and house and garden accessories that look distinctive in other settings. +33 1 42 74 90 00.
If you are looking for a snack or a quick lunch you could do a lot worse than any one of the kosher falafel stands along the Rue des Rosiers near Place des Vosges. If you are on the island though, a closer choice is just to hop across the little pedestrian bridge to the Ile de St. Louis for lunch at any one of the many charming cafés.
For dinner or a sit-down lunch there are over a thousand restaurants in the 4th catering to all tastes - many more deserve to be listed than this or any other guide has space for. There are nice places, trendy or traditional throughout the district, but most of the really fancy bistros are clustered around the Northwest corner of Place de Bastille. You'll really enjoy walking around and checking out the menus, especially during the week when only the most exclusive places require a reservation. That said, here are some ideas:
- Le Loir dans la Théière, 3, rue des Rosiers (Metro: Saint Paul), ☎ +33 1 42 72 90 61. A highly recommended and quaint little teashop, well worth a visit especially for brunch, which at 15.50 Euro is a great value for the quantity, quality, and ambiance.
- La Perla, 26 rue François Miron (Metro: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ +33 1 42 77 59 40, . Everyday 11AM-2AM. There is good Mexican food to be had within a stone's throw of the Ile de St. Louis. They mix a decent margarita too! You'll pay about 10€ for a plate ordered à la carte.
- l'Excuse, 14, rue Charles-V (Metro: Sully-Morland), ☎ +33 1 42 77 98 97.
- Ciao, 7, rue Simon-Lefranc (Metro: Rambuteau), ☎ +33 1 42 71 52 07.
- La Victoire Suprême du Coeur, 27-31 rue du Bourg Tibourg (Métro: Saint-Paul or Hôtel de Ville), . At this fully vegetarian restaurant you can get a delicious and hearty fake meat and two veg meal in a pleasant though disturbingly cultlike atmosphere. 12 to 20€.
- Chez Marianne, 2, Rue des Hospitalières-Saint Gervais (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ +33 42 72 18 86. Found at the corner of rue des Hospitalières-Saint Gervais, and the rue Rosiers, Chez Marianne --like the many falafel stands in the Pletzle-- serves excellent sandwiches out of a walk up window, but unlike some of the others also has an attractive dining room and a truly lovely terrace where you can enjoy a full range of Jewish/middle-eastern dishes. Falafel out of the window is 4€; in the dining room you'll pay around 15€ for a vegetarian menu, or up to 22€ for the most expensive dishes à la carte..
- Pitchi Poï, 9 place du Marché Sainte Catherine (Metro: Saint Paul), ☎ +33 1 42 77 46 15. Essentially yiddische cuisine with a nice choice of vodkas; the terrace is great when the weather is fine; the whole place du Marché Sainte Catherine is covered with restaurants' tables in summer.
- Brasserie Bofinger, 3 rue de la Bastille (Metro: Bastille), ☎ +33 1 42 72 87 82, . A beautiful, historical décor in Art Nouveau style (see the ceiling upstairs); good Alsatian cuisine : choucroute, kuglopf, etc. plus good classic cuisine de brasserie.
- Un Piano sur le Trottoir, 7 rue des Francs Bourgeois, ☎ +33 1 42 77 91 91 (fax: +33 1 48 87 36 23). The restaurant is at the end of a long passage. At the front is just a small room with an upright piano and a couple of post-Impressionist paintings. The decor is bizarre: stone and bright purple drywall; two nice chandeliers, and a discoball; a multicolored curtain with spotlights pointed at it. For lunch it is a traditional place with solid French cooking. Euros 25-35.
- Amorino, 47 rue Saint Louis en L’Ile, ☎ +33 1 42 78 07 75 ([email protected]), . The oldest of the many boutiques operated by this this gelato (italian ice cream) maker.
- Pain Vin Fromages, 3 rue Geoffrey l'Angevin (Métro Rambuteau), ☎ +33 1 42 74 07 52. It's all about cheese, with a selection of Swiss dishes, and others.
In the 4th it's really hard to say whether a given place is somewhere to Eat eat or somewhere to Drink. Most of the places on this list serve dinner, and some serve lunch as well.
- The Auld Alliance Scottish Pub, 80 rue Francois Miron (Metro St Paul), ☎ +33 1 48 04 30 40, . Open daily 11AM-2AM. Friendly staff and customers help create a welcoming atmosphere at the original Scottish pub in Paris. Excellent food is served everyday including a hearty brunch. A wide selection of whiskey is on offer. Sporting events are shown on the large television screens and regular darts and pool competitions take place.
- Café des Phares, 7 place de la Bastille (Métro: Bastille), ☎ +33 1 42 72 04 70. Open every day from 7AM-3AM. Since 1992 this otherwise very attractive but fairly standard Parisien café has been host to a lively discussion of contemporary philosophy and attendant issues every Sunday night. There's a political discussion too, on the first Thursday of each month.
- Café Lutèce, 33 quai de Bourbon (Metro: Pont-Marie). This little bistro would be totally unremarkable if it weren't for the location, on the northern bank of Ile Saint-Louis, where you can watch the colors of the sunset light play over the towers of the Hôtel de Ville as you enjoy a glass or three of beer or house wine, or maybe a cognac.
- Le Lizard Lounge, 18 rue du Bourg-Tibourg (Metro: Hôtel-de-Ville), ☎ +33 1 42 72 48 34.
- Le Petit Fer A Cheval, 30 rue Vieille-du Temple (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ +33 1 42 72 47 47.
- La Chaise au Plafond, 10, rue du Trésor (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ +33 1 42 76 03 22. The Chaise is one of those truely warm and welcoming cafés. The proprietor usually makes an effort to spend at least a couple of minutes at each table, and somehow manages to remember visitors even years later.
- Les Etages, 35, rue Vieille du Temple (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ +33 01 42 78 72 00.
- Stolly's, 7 , rue Cloche-Perce (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ +33 1 42 76 06 76.
There are tons of hotels, hostels and guest houses in the 4th. Even still you should book ahead if possible as there is also tons of demand.
- MIJE, 6, rue de Fourcy, 12 rue des Barres, and 11 rue du Fauconnier (Metro: St. Paul), ☎ +33 1 42 74 23 45, . Consistently given the highest possible ratings this organization actually runs three hostels in the Marais. The only possible drawback is that they have an afternoon lockout for cleaning. The MIJE Maubuisson on rue des Barres gets the nod of the three for being in an historic Tudor-style building. Dorm-room beds start at 27€ at all three places. Single rooms are 42€.
- Hôtel Rivoli, 44 rue Rivoli (Metro: Hotel de Ville), ☎ +33 1 42 72 08 41. In the heart of the city with cheap doubles, starting from 30€.
- Grand Hôtel du Loiret, 8, rue des Mauvais Garçons (Metro: Hôtel-de-Ville), ☎ +33 1 48 87 77 00. A good value for the price and location. The basic rooms start at 45€, or 60€ with a shower.
- Grand Hôtel Jeanne-d'Arc, 3, rue de Jarente (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ +33 1 48 87 62 11, . In the calmer part of the Marais, not far from Place de Bastille and Place des Vosges, this little hotel offers a good value, so you'll need to book ahead, especially for the 57€ basic room.
- Hôtel du Septième Art, 20 rue Saint-Paul (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ +33 1 44 54 85 00 (fax: +33 1 42 77 69 10). A little place done up in all black and white in homage to the cinema, the 7th art offers a good value on comfortable rooms, and polite, quality service. Single rooms start at 75€.
- Hôspitel, 1, Place du Parvis Notre Dame-Galerie B2, 6e étage (Metro: Cité), ☎ +33 1 44 32 01 00, . You can't beat the location of this no-star but midrange offering on the Ile de la Cité located on the 6th floor of the Hospital Hôtel-Dieu a functioning Hospital which is also classified as an official historical monument, Hôspitel offers quite a bit of service and comfort for your 88.50€ (singles) or 99.50€ (double).
- Hôtel Bastille Speria, 1 rue de la Bastille (Metro: Bastille), ☎ +33 1 42 72 04 01 (fax: +33 1 42 72 56 38), . This lovely little three star is at the far end of the 4th bumped right up against Place de Bastille. The place is inviting and the rooms are quite comfy and air conditioned. The location is good especially if you are interested in fine dining, as the place is surrounded by some of the better bistros on the right bank. Rooms start at 95 Euro for a single.
- Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais, 12, rue Vieille-du-Temple (Metro: Saint-Paul or Hôtel-de-Ville), ☎ +33 1 42 72 34 12, . Starting at 137€ for a single room
- Hôtel de Lutece, 65, rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile (Metro: Pont-Marie), ☎ +33 1 43 26 23 52, . All of the rooms go for 158€
- Jardins de Paris Marais-Bastille, 14, rue Neuve-Saint-Pierre (Metro: Bastille), ☎ +33 1 44 59 28 50, . Singles starting at 120€, doubles for 135€.
- Hôtel de la Place des Vosges, 12 rue de Birague (Metro: Bastille or Saint-Paul), ☎ +33 1 42 72 60 46 (fax: +33 1 42 72 02 64), . The rooms are tiny, as is the staircase, but they are also pristine, some of the rooms have been renovated recently with shiny new marble bathrooms. The staff also gets high marks for professionalism and for general helpfulness. Prices range from 101-140€.
- Hôtel de Nice, 42bis, rue de Rivoli (Metro: Hôtel de Ville), . Just two blocks from the Ile de St. Louis, the Hôtel de Nice offers tiny but lovely rooms. Ask for one with a balcony, some of which have a view of Notre Dame. The furniture is hand-painted with a floral theme which continues throughout the room. The area can be a little loud though, so if you want peace and quiet look elsewhere. Singles start at 60€.
- Bibliothèque Publique d'Information. This library in Centre Pomidou offers Internet for free (40 minutes). It's very popular so expect a queue for getting in and at least one hour waiting time to use the computers. The entrance to the museum isn't the same as the one to the rest of Centre Pomidou but located around the back of the building.
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