Marais Through the Centuries: Paris' Historical District Audio Guide

Find out how this medieval district fell and then flourished into a cultural hub
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1 at US$20
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Audio Guide Details
1 hour 30 minutes
Product Type
Audio Guide
  • Place des Vosges
  • Village Saint-Paul
  • Marais
  • Hôtel de Sens
Preview Marais Through the Centuries: Paris' Historical District Audio Guide
Start: Place Pierre-Kauffmann
Rue Tiron & Rue de Jouy
Square Marie-Trintignant
Photos & Highlights
Audio Guide Description
  • Put your map away as you walk through time with a writer to guide you around this cultural hub of Paris
  • Hit play together and stroll the city or wander solo, but always with an expert in your ear as your personal guide

Paris' Marais district was once a serene landscape of wetlands and, later, lush orchards and vineyards. It saw the rise and fall of kingdoms and its people's resilience before emerging as a cultural nucleus. On this audio guide tour by writer and Context Travel expert, Lily Heise, you'll travel through Marais' narrow streets and elegant squares, and discover how the district has been reinvented numerous times over the centuries. You'll learn how layers of stories have laid the foundation for the magnetic spirit that now permeates through this neighborhood, filled with historic buildings, museums, shops, and art galleries.

Starting on Place Pierre-Kauffmann, you'll stroll down a medieval lane to see the Gothic-style church, Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais.  Weaving our way through the southern Marais, Lily will point out age-old timbered houses hidden under layers of plaster. The Marais' rich history is reflected in each edifice, from the Hotel de Sens, a Gothic masterpiece, to the Hotel Hérouet, which was transformed into a prestigious residence. She'll tell you how this district, once the hub of aristocratic life during the Golden Age, has weathered turbulent times including Nazi occupation and the expulsion of the Jews in the Middle Ages. You'll learn how the district was revitalized in the 20th century, becoming the first historic enclave shielded by law in 1964, sparking a nationwide preservation movement. You'll wander down Rue Vieille du Temple, where contemporary art galleries dot the streets, reinforcing the district's artistic identity. As you make your way to the northern half of the district, you'll learn how the Marais became what it is today, a district where creativity meets chic, attracting cosmopolitan Parisians known as "bobos," people who embrace both bourgeois and bohemian sensibilities. As you reach Square du Temple Elie Wiesel where the tour ends, you'll see how, in Marais, resilience echoes louder than despair.

On this Marais audio guide tour, you'll:

• Learn why almost 100 mansions were built in the Marais during its Golden Age and learn about the conservation laws that prevented them from being demolished
• Stroll along Rue des Francs Bourgeois, the border between the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, lined with trendy boutiques and historic mansions
• Behold the grandeur of the largest private mansion, the Hotel Salé, an embodiment of elegance that whispers tales of its aristocratic past 
• Find out why the Marais was previously known as the breadbasket of Paris
• See where the largest Jewish population in Paris lived until the Nazi deportation 
• Learn about the dozen monasteries and convents that dotted the Marais and their role within the city
• Explore Hotel de Sens and its Gothic features, a historic home and the only remnant left of the once sprawling Medieval estate
• Gaze upon the Hotel Hérouet, a simple country home that gradually turned into one of the era‘s most beautiful and prestigious residences
• Pop into famous (and historical) eateries like Carette, Ma Bourgogne and L'As du Fallafel, which makes Lenny Kravitz‘s favorite sandwich in the world
• Discover Hotel Saint-Paul's castle complex 
• Visit Place des Vosges and learn how a King's tragic demise led to the birth of this elegant square, the very first planned public square in Europe
• Observe Hôtel Carnavalet, one of the very first Renaissance-era mansions built in the Marais
• Discover how Madame de Sévigné became one of France's first female writers

After this 90-minute audio guide tour, you'll go home with a better understanding of how the Marais, once the breadbasket of Paris and now a cultural haven, refused to succumb to time's relentless march. So come, wander its cobblestone streets, and immerse yourself in tales of triumph, tragedy, and the timeless allure of the Marais.

Although this tour has two small inclines, it is wheelchair accessible and can be experienced by travelers of all capabilities. There is one step into and out of the Garden of the Hotel de Sens and three steps in and out of the Hotel de Sully Garden. It is possible to go around these areas as indicated in the directions in case these sites are closed. The total distance of the audio guide tour is 2.25 miles.
Meet Your Expert

Originally from Canada, Lily is a freelance travel writer who has been living in Paris since 2000. She holds a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Guelph and has extensive experience in tourism and culture having worked for several French universities, museums, cultural sites and previously in the office of Context Travel. Her writing has been featured on the Huffington Post, Business Insider,, Frommer's print guides and online, DK Eyewitness, Fodor's and others. She is also the author of two books on looking for romance in Paris and runs an award-winning blog on Paris, travel and romance, Je T'Aime, Me Neither.

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Is closed captioning (i.e. subtitles) available?
Yes! All of our audio guides have the option to turn on closed captioning should you have difficulty hearing the expert.

How long does each event last?
Our recorded audio guides typically run for 75 minutes.

How can I share this audio guide with friends or family?
You are welcome to listen together with friends or family, but each person listening to the guide on their own device will need to purchase the audio guide individually.

How long does my access to the audio guide last?
Once you purchase an audio guide, you are welcome to listen to it as many times as you would like. Your access to a purchased audio guide does not expire.

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Can I purchase a gift card for a friend who is traveling?
Absolutely! Gift cards can be purchased here. Gift cards are good for 365 days from the date of purchase.
(4.8) 10 Reviews

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Just what it needs, not overwhelming but interesting!
This historical tour of the Marais takes you back in time. I highly reccomend it.