The PicassoMuseum (which is closed for renovation until 2013) as well as the Village Saint Paul, Jules’ studio, the Rue des Rosiers with its Falafel shops and the Place des Enfants Rouges are located in the Marais.
Literally translated, marais means swamp. And for the longest time this area had been a swamp. Until in the 13th century, then it was drained and the Order of the Temple built a fortified church there; fortified because in 1240 this place was still outside the Paris’ city walls. Shortly after, the French nobility discovered the Marais as their favorite place to dwell. They made it the aristocratic district of Paris until it became too crowded and polluted for them and they relocated to the Faubourg Saint Germain on the left bank of the river. Their longstanding presence however explains the large number of outstanding buildings of historical and architectural importance.
Once the nobility moved, the Marais became an active commercial area, hosting one of Paris’ main Jewish communities in the streets around Rue des Rosiers. The community was heavily targeted during the occupation by the Nazis. By the 1950’s the whole district was pretty run down. The historical hotels particuliers threatened to fall apart. Plans existed to get rid of them until in the mid 1960’s the whole area was declared a secteur sauvegarde, a secured area. After a rehabilitation policy was put in place by the central government and the municipality, the places were filled with artistic life again like the PicassoMuseum. And by the 1990’s the Jewish community had returned and with the falafel shops in the Rue des Rosiers.