Arts & Music

The Carreau du Temple A trendy neighborhood that’s keeping it real

The stores around the Carreau du Temple in the Marais are keeping the neighborhood’s artisan traditions and food-store heritage alive.

After centuries of power and decadence, over the last fifty years the Marais has been eager to restore its past glories. Back in favor, the neighborhood has become a magnet for the intrepid, trippers and trendy stores.The area around the Carreau du Temple is steeped in history – the same history that shaped the capital itself – and clues as to the people who lived and worked here over the centuries are never far away. The land on which the Carreau du Temple was built was owned by the Knights Templar in the 12th century – hence its name.

At the eye of the revolutionary storm, the royal family was imprisoned on this site, where, under the First Empire, a popular second-hand clothes market was held in a wooden hall, before moving to a steel-and-glass structure modelled on the Baltard pavilions on the orders of Napoleon III – a necessary precaution in a city plagued by fire. Unsold clothes were sold off in a “carreau” or square in the middle. It continued to operate as a market until it fell on hard times and, in 1904, hosted the first “Paris fair”. But the revival was brief… and the demolition ball never far away. It returned to its roots as a second-hand clothes market after the Second World War, then lapsed into obscurity and – almost – oblivion.

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The Carreau du Temple Le Marais

4 Rue Eugène Spuller, 75003 Paris. www.carreaudutemple.eu/
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Le Carreau du Temple Paris Capitale Magazine (3)

Finally, in 2001, the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë decided to restore two of the six buildings erected in 1863. Now a cultural, artistic and commercial hub, the Carreau du Temple has regained its place on the upper Marais podium. Buzzing with people and events, this new center is a rallying point in a neighborhood where the streets are named after French provinces – because the Marais is truly one-of-a-kind!

Its lower and upper districts are chalk and cheese. The vibe can be totally different depending on which number you’re at. At the end of rue Charlot – named for the area’s first real-estate developer – townhouses remind us of how the area was once favored by the bourgeoisie and noble families. This fairly narrow street, which begins at rue des Quatre-Fils and ends at boulevard du Temple, still has that certain charm that makes the Marais so appealing. The craft stores that once made its name have steadily given way to other, more fashionable stores and trendier businesses.

Some artisans are resisting, however, such as the jeweler Jonas Bowman or the team at Monsieur Paris, who make everything on-site. More tourist-lite than the Marais between the BHV Marais – with its luxury stores, particularly for men, and every kind of health concept store you can imagine – and the Saint Paul subway, the upper Marais is nonetheless under the real-estate thumbscrews.

Because Le Marais is like no other area of Paris.

Prices have rocketed, the locals have changed and stores come and go. But with its maze of little streets, which somehow managed to escape Haussmann’s demolition parties, this place hasn’t lost any of its charm. Rue Charlot and the surrounding area have joined the resistance, with food stores holding back the tide by going all-out for excellence and selling only the finest produce. Although the restaurants still have a “rustic” touch, with exposed beams and parquet flooring, the menus are pretty healthy – a mix of new age and authenticity.

It’s modern in ancient surroundings, which is what life is all about. And it’s what makes the “Marais magic” just as bewitching as ever. It’s a place where everyone can come and find the piece of history that suits them… or create their own!

Le Carreau du Temple Paris Capitale Magazine (5)

Paris Capitale magazine prepared you a special section, regrouping the best addresses surrounding the Carreau du Temple, which you can access by clicking this link.

By Viviane Blassel and Dominique Millérioux. Photos: Stéphanie Slama. - Published the

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