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Places We Go : Magical Marais

This week, let's take a closer look at the magical Marais neighborhood in Paris. John, Jim and I stayed there for a week in May. Located in the heart of Paris, the Marais owes much of its charm to its manificent architecture and rich history. There are many 17th century private mansions, typically built with white freestone and featuring a large entrance through which a horse-drawn carriage could eaily pass.

We never missed an opportunity to take a photo through an open door - fun to imagine a horse-drawn carriage passing through.

John told me that I had to see Palais-Royale which was built by Henri IV in 1628. After the French Revolution, is was renamed, "The Place des Vosges." I had no idea what was in store.

On the other side of the gate - Voila! The square is surrounded by 17th century homes. Honestly, some days the sky was as jaw dropping as the buildings.

In the 17th century, the now Place des Vosges was a favorite area of residence of the French nobility. You can visit Victor Hugo's apartment that he rented from 1832 to 1849. By the late 18th century, it feel into disrepair and became unfashionable until late in 20th century.

On July 12, 1789, a revolutionary gave a speech that ignited the people and triggered the storming of the Bastille two days later. Two hundred thirty five years later, it's a popluar square for picnics and school kids.

At the end of another street, the Saint-Paul-Saint Louis church, constructed from 1627-1641.

After the French Revolution, the Marais was no longer the aristocratic district it had been during the 17th and 18th centuries. Because of this, the district became a popular and active commercial area, hosting one of Paris' main Jewish communities. There are still temples, shops, restaurants and religious bookstores.

J&J awaiting the opening of Schwartz's deli for a light supper. It was packed fifteen minutes later.

When Picasso died in 1973, his estate taxes were astronomical. French law was amended to enable his heirs to pay the taxes with art instead of money. But where to put Picasso's large collection of art, poetry and notes?

As a grand mansion, Hotel Sale was built between 1656 and 1659 in the Marais. It was opened as the Picasso Museum in 1985.

The museum underwent another renovation in 2009 - delays kept it from opening until 2014.

John studies the attic's construction.

My favorite of the paintings was "Jeune fille assise," which translates to "Young Girl Sitting," painted in 1970.

Walking through the 1 mile Marais neighborhood was a delight. Some shops were beautifully decorated.

Do you know the parfum brand, "Juliette has a gun?" Inspired by Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, its reflective of a powerful woman using perfume as a weapon of seduction. Oh la la! (I actually heard Parisians saying "Oh la la!" numerouse times while visiting.)

Popped into Meert, established in 1761, to buy a few souvenirs.

While we ate at a lot of different restaurants, we found ourself at brasserie les philosophes for breakfast most mornings and twice for an occasisional light supper. Most restaurants open at 7:30 pm for dinner and you can see by 8 pm, les philosophes was jammed. After all, with our destination lunches, a girl can only eat so much.

One evening, I ate onion soup. A staple on every brasserie menu, it didn't disappoint.

Onion soup was served with a chunk of baguette. I noticed the restaurant receiving their bread orders twice a day - before breakfast and then I saw these being stacked as dinner service began. Both times, they were delivered by bicycle.

I went into a drug store to buy some skin care products but it was too overwhelming. We use products from French companies L'Oreal and Lancome but there are many more brands. Next time, I'll have a list. While I was inside, J&J met up with Winnie. We had fun watching clearly loved Parisian dogs. Most poplular seemed to be dauschhunds like Winnie, Frenchies (in black or white and called "Bouledogue Français" in French) and large doodles (mostly a dark caramel color). Leave it to Parisians to have stylish dogs. Have a wonderful Father's Day!


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