For a special treat, head to L'As du Falafel,
the most famous falafel stand in Paris.
that I'm on the receiving end of real estate envy. But every time
I step out my front door onto the rue des Rosiers in the Marais
district of Paris, I feel it in the curious stares of the starry-eyed
tourists lined up for falafel.
which spreads across the third and fourth
arrondissements, is one of the liveliest and most charming areas
of Paris, and I'm proud to call it home.
of the Marais, cobblestoned in some areas, are lined with chic
cafes, trendy boutiques, avant-garde art galleries and delicious
restaurants. But the district wasn't always so glitzy.
(which means "the marsh" in French) was once home to
grand aristocratic residences, but after the Revolution, the neighborhood
started slipping slowly into decline.
At the end of the nineteenth
century, waves of Jewish immigrants from central and eastern Europe
started setting up small businesses in the narrow streets around
the rue des Rosiers. Later, the area became popular among North
Africans and people from the Middle East.
In the 1980s, the area
started to become gentrified, attracting a large segment of Paris's
Now, the Marais
is an amalgamation of all that makes Paris, well, Paris. The neighborhood
is at once old and new, trendy and traditional. There are Michelin-starred
restaurants next to kosher bakeries, expensive boutiques next
to vintage thrift stores, elderly Hasidic Jews sharing the same
apartment buildings as flamboyantly gay fashion designers.
tour of the Marais at the Place
des Vosges, an historic public square surrounded by an elegant
17th-century palace, the corridors of which have been converted
into expensive cafés and art galleries.
Grab a macaroon
at the Right Bank location of Gerard Mulot (6 rue du Pas de la
Mule), a famous patisserie located off the square, and be sure
to check out the Maison de Victor Hugo (6 Place des Vosges), where
the famous author is said to have written most of Les Miserables.
window-shop along the rue des Francs-Bourgeois, where trendy boutiques
lay claim to the majority of storefronts.
The road will deposit
you directly in front of the colorful skeletal façade of
the massive Centre
Georges Pompidou, a massive complex housing the Musée
National d'Art Moderne, Bibliothèque Publique d'Information
and a number of rotating exhibitions.
your tour of the Marais by backtracking to the rue des Rosiers
for a special treat from L'As du Falafel (34 rue des Rosiers),
the most famous falafel stand in
Paris, if not the world. While
you wait in line, take a minute to look around, soak up the atmosphere
and envy the people who get to live there.