Once popular for its Jewish restaurants and delis, but also for its fabulous gay nights, this district, particularly the area between the rue des Francs-Bourgeois and the place des Vosges, has taken a different turn in recent times with the arrival en masse of very “now” brands like Maje, Sandro, Princesse Tam Tam and, more recently, Uniqlo. Although the upper Marais has become the hangout for the city’s “bourgeois bohème” types, with Merci leading the way, the lower Marais was still, even just a few months ago, famous for its sultry nights. But that was then. Everything started to change with the renovation of the BHV. This department store wanted to up its image and to forge a reputation for something more than its DIY range. Alexandre Liot, director of the BHV/Marais for the last three years, has begun to breathe new life into the brand. Since renamed BHV/Marais, the store has decided to raise its game and to focus on fashion, while still keeping part of its old identity. This is obvious when you enter the store, which has a new shoe department and trendy eateries. Since the beginning of this year, the Marais, and particularly the rue des Archives, has stepped it up a gear with the much-heralded arrival, one after the other, of four luxury menswear brands – Moncler, Gucci, Fendi and Givenchy – more often associated with avenue Montaigne and the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré. Menswear is an obvious choice for a neighborhood that has strong links with the gay community, and the Marais could well become a new center for men’s fashion in the capital. The trend continues with the last opening on June of an 86-square metre Valentino store, also devoted to men.