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The Marais is an historic neighborhood of Paris, located astride the 3rd and 4th districts, bordered on the north side by the Seine, and by Rue Beaubourg and the Beaumarchais boulevard on the east and west sides.
Originally built on former swamp land, the Marais district has a curious history. In the Middle Ages, the Templar monks decided to dry out the land and build establishments there. In the early 17th century, Henry IV built the present Place des Vosges, known at that time as the Royal Palace, and the aristocracy took up residence in and around the area. During that same period, many private mansions were built there, including the extremely beautiful Hôtel Salé, which has housed the Picasso Museum since 1985.
Departing from the sumptuous Hôtel du Louvre, visitors can reach the Marais district by following the Right Bank of the Seine. At the intersection of the Quai de l'Hôtel-de-Ville and Rue des Barres, stands the Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais church, build at the end of the 15th century. Continuing on the Rue Vieille du Temple, one comes to the Rue des Rosiers. This street became home to many Ashkenazy Jews starting at the end of the 19th century, and is still today a traditional neighborhood with food shops, specialized book stores and typical falafel restaurants.
Since the 1980's the gay community has taken up residence in the district, mainly centered on the Rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie, well-known for its gourmet restaurants and multi-cultural atmosphere.