The 4th is a good chunk of what used to be medieval Paris, and you'll find a lot left from that time on both islands and in the narrow streets of the lower Marais. Meanwhile there's lots that's contemporary to look at especially at the Centre Georges Pompidou where you'll find a lot of the very best contemporary art.
At night the 4th has several of the most active bar scenes most travellers will have ever seen, including the lower Marais district which is sometimes known as gay Paris although there are no shortage of bars catering to straight singles or a mixed crowd, or, in the early evening, families.
The 4th is a central arrondissement, right between the Châtelet and Bastille areas, two of Paris' main transportation (metro, RER and bus) hubs.
Being such a touristy district, it is very hard to find parking spaces. It's much easier to use the Metro.
Several subway stations on lines 1, 4, 7 and 11 dot this area and are convenient for exploring its attractions.
Station Hôtel de Ville on Ligne 1 (La Defense/Chateau de Vincennes) and Ligne 11 (Chatelet/Mairie des Lilas) - Access from near the junction of Rue de Renard and Rue de Rivoli. Station Cité on Ligne 4 (Porte d'Orleans (General Leclerc)/Porte de Clignancourt) - Access off the Boulevard du Palais (infront of Palais de Justice on the Ile de Cité). Station St. Paul on Ligne 1 (La Defense/Chateau de Vincennes) - Access off the Rue de Rivoli. Station Rambuteau on Ligne 11 (Chatelet/Mairie des Lilas) - Access from near the junction of Rue de Renard and Rue Rambuteau. Station Pt. Marie on Ligne 7 (Villejuif - Louis Aragon / Mairie d'Ivry/La Courneuve - 8 mai 1945) - Access from Quai de l'Hotel de Ville Station Sully Morland on Ligne 7 (Villejuif - Louis Aragon / Mairie d'Ivry/La Courneuve - 8 mai 1945) - Access near the junction of Boulevard de Henri IV and Quai des Celestins.
Unlike the metro, buses can be a great way of moving around and seeing the city's landscape, although you risk being caught in traffic. The most useful lines are 70, 72 and 74, which stop at the Hôtel de Ville, and lines 75 and 76, which run through Rue de Rivoli.
The neighbouring Châtelet and Bastille stations are also served by the Noctilian (night bus), running from 00:30 to 05:30. Lines 33, 34 and 132 run between these two stations with no intermediate stops, but there are many others arriving and leaving from both to several destinations around town.
Walk, walk and walk! This arrondissement is compact enough to be explored on foot and that's probably just what you'll want to do anyway. Otherwise, the metro may be not be too useful for covering short distances, but you may still want to use the bus line 76 for the Châtelet-Bastille itinerary or line 67 for Châtelet - Île St. Louis, especially if you have a card for multiple trips or a Carte Orange.
The RATP network has bicycles (vélos) for rent next to the Bastille station:
- Maison Roue Libre, 37, bd Bourdon, ☎ . 09:00-19:00. €10-15 per day.
- Notre-Dame de Paris (Notre Dame Cathedral), Ile de la Cité 6, Place du Parvis Notre Dame (Metro: St Michel), ☎ , fax: +33 1 40 51 70 98, e-mail: info@cathedraleDeParis.com. 07:45-18:45. The early Gothic Cathédrale de Notre Dame (Our Lady) has a 12th century design but wasn't completed until the 14th. Still it is a good example of the development of the style, though the west or main portal is a bit unusual in its rigidity. Remember that this is an active church, there may even be a mass going on. Meanwhile anybody who's interested in history should check out the crypt. You enter at the opposite end of the square, where you can observe the foundation stones for buildings on the island going back to Roman times.
- Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), Place de la Hôtel de Ville (Metro: Hôtel de Ville). Many feel that this, Paris' town hall, is one of the loveliest buildings in the city. You might not get that from the front view, but try watching the light change on its roofs and towers during sunset from one of the cafés on the Ile de St. Louis, the Lutece for instance. Alternatively, go to the top floor of the Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville (BHV) department store opposite, on rue de Rivoli and walk up a flight of stairs to the roof terrace (terrasse), from which there is a dramatic view of both the roof of the Hôtel de Ville and the immediate surroundings and river. The present Hôtel de Ville replaced the 16th century original which was burned down during the Commune in 1871. A pastiche of its predecessor, but on a far larger scale, it was designed by the architects Ballu and Deperthes, chosen after a competition, and was mostly completed by 1882. The building is lavishly, and some would say heavy-handedly, decorated both inside and out, and finished in an arrestingly white stone, similar to that used for the even more eye-catching Sacre-Coeur basilica. The statue on the garden wall on the south side is of Etienne Marcel, the most famous holder of the post of "prevôt des marchands" (provost of merchants) which pre-dated the office of mayor. Marcel came to a sticky end, lynched in 1358 by an angry mob after trying to assert the city's powers a little too energetically. The current mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, a socialist and the city's first openly gay leader, shares some of Marcel's ambition and almost shared his fate. He was stabbed in the building in 2002 during the first all-night, city-wide Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche) festival when the long inaccessible building's doors were thrown open to the public. But Delanoe recovered and has not lost his zeal for access, later converting the mayor's sumptuous private apartments into a crèche for the children of municipal workers. The Hôtel de Ville was for many years the private fiefdom of Jacques Chirac, France's president before Sarkozy, and was the site of a scandal centring on both illegal jobs given to Chirac's party members and an immense entertainment budget. General de Gaulle greeted the crowds from a front window in 1944 when Paris was liberated from the Germans and Robespierre was shot in the jaw and arrested in the original building in 1794. Admirers of Hôtel de Ville's architecture will want to know that Ballu also built the Church of La Trinité in the 9th arrondissement and the belfry of the town hall of the 1st arrondissement, opposite the Louvre's east façade. Ballu also restored the Tour St Jacques (see below), which has recently been uncovered after restoration work lasting over a decade.
- Tour St Jacques, Rue de Rivoli (Métro: Chatelet). A Gothic church tower in a square 150m to the west of the Hôtel de Ville was restored by Ballu, is all that remains of Eglise Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie, which was the meeting place in Paris for pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compestela. As such it is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France.
- la Bastille (Metro: Bastille). Enter Bastille station through any entrance or on any train and then make your way to the Bobigny/Pablo Picasso-bound platform. All that's left of the fortress whose front steps used to lead up from place de la Bastille are some foundation stones which you can see while waiting for a north bound train on this metro platform. There are maps and explanations showing where the fortress used to be relative the place and surroundings (basically the location of the old front steps are now occupied by Café des Phares).
- Le Mémorial de la Shoah (The Holocaust Memorial), 17, rue Geoffroy l’Asnier, ☎ . Su-W,F 10:00-18:00; Th 10:00-22:00. Opened in January 2005, the Holocaust Memorial comprises a major documentation centre and a wall bearing 76,000 names of Jews deported from France to the Nazi camps between 1942-1944. Includes an archive of a million artefacts, including 55,000 photographs. Excursions are run from the memorial to French internment camp sites such as Drancy. Admission free.
Museums and Galleries
- Centre Georges Pompidou, Place George Pompidou (Metro: Rambuteau). W-M, 11:00-22:00. Those who are unfamiliar with conceptual art sometimes don't know quite what to expect, or how to approach it. Such travellers should rest assured that the curators at the Pompidou Centre have assembled a marvellous introduction consisting of mostly approachable works which delight, amuse, and entertain. The art is far from the only reason for a visit, as the building also contains a vast public library and a fine restaurant (run by the Costes brothers) on the roof. In fact the place is literally surrounded by some of the nicest pavement cafés in the city, in its superb location between the car-free above ground part of Forum Les Halles and the Marais art district. €8-10.
- Maison de Victor Hugo, 6, Place des Vosges (Metro: Saint-Paul or Bastille, Bus 20, 29, 65, 69, 96), ☎ , fax: +33 01 41 72 06 64. Daily 10:00-18:00. The house in which the famous French novelist Victor Hugo once lived.
- Hôtel de Sully, 62 rue Saint-Antoine (Metro: Saint-Paul or Bastille, Bus 69, 76, 96). Daily 09:00-19:00. Built in 1625, the Hotel de Sully is an interesting house with some sculptures in a beautiful courtyard. The house features special exhibitions, so check listings when in Paris.
Most of the things to do in the 4th are covered in other sections of this guide, with the main thing to do being to explore. Of particular interest is the Île Saint Louis (complete with having an ice cream or sorbet from Berthillon), the Hôtels Particuliars, and the Pletzle particularly rue des Rosiers and the area around Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine.
Over the last decade, the rue des Francs-Bourgeois has become a shopping destination for clothes and accessories. Go during the July or January soldes (sales) and pick up some Anne-Fontaine outfits, Camper shoes, or trendy men's clothing at Melchoir at bargain basement prices.
- Marché aux Fleurs et Marché aux Oiseaux (Flower Market and Bird Market), Place Louis Lepine (Metro: Cité, Saint Michele or Châtelet). On the north side of the Ile de la Cité, the main island at the centre of Paris you'll find a burgeoning daily flower market, where you can buy just about any type of flower, and oddly enough, a range of exotic tropical birds.
- Opéra BD, 2 rue des Tournelles (Metro: Bastille), ☎ . Daily 11:00-23:59. Comics (Bandes Dessinées) are a serious art form in France and even regular corporate bookstores have a good selection, but it's much better to look for them where they are really appreciated, in one of Paris's many private BD dealers. This one is friendly, well stocked, and keeps late hours so pay them a visit if you would like to pick up a copy of one of the many volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub in French.
- Mariage Frères, 30 & 35 rue de Bourg-Tibourg (Métro: Hotel de Ville). If you love tea, you'll love this old salon de the in the Marais.
- BHV (Bazar de l'Hotel de Ville), 52 rue de Rivoli (Metro Hôtel de Ville), ☎ . Is a general store with most of everything: clothes, perfumes, furniture, you name it—it's especially famous for its basement section, dedicated to handiwork & DIY --think of it as a small Home Depot in a basement, though with French hardware and house and garden accessories that look distinctive in other settings.
For dinner or a sit-down lunch there are over a thousand restaurants in the 4th catering to all tastes - many more deserve to be listed than this or any other guide has space for. There are nice places, trendy or traditional throughout the district, but most of the really fancy bistros are clustered around the NW corner of Place de Bastille. You'll really enjoy walking around and checking out the menus, especially during the week when only the most exclusive places require a reservation. That said, here are some ideas:
If you are looking for a snack or a quick lunch you could do a lot worse than any one of the kosher falafel stands along the rue des Rosiers near Place des Vosges. If you are on the île de la Cité though, a closer choice is just to hop across the little pedestrian bridge to the île Saint-Louis for lunch at any one of the many charming cafés.
- Chez Marianne, 2, Rue des Hospitalières-Saint Gervais (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ . At the corner of rue des Hospitalières-Saint Gervais, and the rue Rosiers, Chez Marianne—like the many falafel stands in the Pletzle—serves excellent sandwiches out of a walk up window, but unlike some of the others also has an attractive dining room and a truly lovely terrace where you can enjoy a full range of Jewish/middle-eastern dishes. Falafel out of the window is €4; in the dining room you'll pay around €15 for a vegetarian menu, or up to €22 for the most expensive dishes à la carte..
- La Perla, 26 rue François Miron (Metro: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ . Daily 11:00-14:00. Good Mexican food to be had within a stone's throw of the Ile de St. Louis. They mix a decent margarita too! You'll pay about €10 for a plate ordered à la carte.
- O Corcovado Marais, 7, rue Simon-Lefranc (Metro: Rambuteau), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-Su 19:00-. This Brazilian restaurant serves authentic food.
- Creperie Beaubourg, 2 Rue Brisemiche (Métro: Hotel de Ville), ☎ . 11:30-23:00. The restaurant serves salty "galette" and sweet "crepes" with cider for a reasonable price. In summertime one can sit nicely outdoor. €10.
- Le Coude Fou, 12, rue du Bourg-Tibourg (Metro Hotel de Ville), ☎ . Daily until midnight. This place is a jewel. It is a real local neighbourhood bistro in the middle of the high rent Marais. The food is good, and the wine selection is great. During the week it offers a €17 prix fixe two-course lunch (including two glasses of wine) and a €25 three-course dinner (does not include wine).
- Le Loir dans la Théière, 3, rue des Rosiers (Metro: Saint Paul), ☎ . 09:00-19:30. A highly recommended and quaint little tea shop, well worth a visit especially for brunch, which at €15.50 is a great value for the quantity, quality, and ambience. The cakes are huge, but if one is too late they might already be gone.
- Pain Vin Fromages, 3, rue Geoffrey l'Angevin (Métro Rambuteau), ☎ . It's all about cheese, with a selection of Swiss dishes, and others.
- L' Ambroisie, 9, place des Vosges (Métro: Sain Paul), ☎ . Tu-Sa 12:00-13:15, 20:00-22:00. In the aristocratic décors of the 18th century the chef Bernard Pacaud and his son prepare modern and refined food. The "tarte au chocolat" is surreal. €500-.
- Brasserie Bofinger, 3, rue de la Bastille (Metro: Bastille), ☎ . A beautiful, historical décor in the Art Nouveau style (see the ceiling upstairs); good Alsatian cuisine : choucroute, kuglopf, etc, plus good classic cuisine de brasserie.
- Le Georges, 19 rue Beaubourg, ☎ . On the top floor of the Centre Georges Pompidou, the restaurant Georges offers a panoramic view of Paris. Serves modern French food with classic desserts like "blancs en neige". M 11:00-24:00, W-Su 11:00-02:00.
French ice cream is famous for its sorbet and there are excellent ice cream parlours to choose from:
- Amorino, 47, rue Saint Louis en l’Ile, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The oldest of the many boutiques operated by this gelato (Italian ice cream) maker.
- Glacier Berthillon, 31 Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île (Métro: Pont Marie), ☎ . W-Su 10:00-20:00. The most renowned French sorbet has his little tea shop since 1954. The wait in the queue is definitely worth it, also with some luck the queue isn't that big. On the corner, the queue for takeaway is usually bigger but, of course, faster. Taking the ice to the Seine is, of course. a possible option.
- Pozetto, 39 Rue du Roi de Sicile (Métro: Hotel de Ville), ☎ . M-Th 12:15–23:45, Fr Sa 12:15-00:45, Su 12:15–23:45. Little shop that's both a café and sells Italian ice cream. The ice cream flavours vary according to the season.
In the 4th it's really hard to say whether a given place is somewhere to Eat or somewhere to Drink. Most of the places on this list serve dinner, and some serve lunch as well.
- The Auld Alliance Scottish Pub, 80, rue Francois Miron (Metro St Paul), ☎ . Daily, last orders 01:30. Friendly staff and customers help create a welcoming atmosphere at the original Scottish pub in Paris. Excellent food is served every day including a hearty brunch. In late 2008 the menu promised a 'Scottish Ploughmans' that was 'coming soon' but this project appears to have been hit by R&D snags or the global downturn and has been quietly dropped. Instead the pub is selling quality British crisps at just €0.50 per packet, even smokey bacon flavour. A wide selection of whisky is on offer. Sporting events are shown on eight large television screens. Regular darts and pool competitions take place and Monday night is quiz night.
- Café des Phares, 7, place de la Bastille (Métro: Bastille), ☎ . Daily 07:00-03:00. Since 1992 this otherwise very attractive but fairly standard Parisian café has been host to a lively discussion of contemporary philosophy and attendant issues every Sunday night. There's a political discussion too, on the first Thursday of each month.
- Café Lutèce, 33, quai de Bourbon (Metro: Pont-Marie). This little bistro would be totally unremarkable if it weren't for the location, on the north bank of Ile Saint-Louis, where you can watch the colours of the sunset light play over the towers of the Hôtel de Ville as you enjoy a glass or three of beer or house wine, or maybe a cognac.
- Le Lizard Lounge, 18, rue du Bourg-Tibourg (Metro: Hôtel-de-Ville), ☎ .
- Le Petit Fer A Cheval, 30, rue Vieille-du Temple (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ .
- La Chaise au Plafond, 10, rue du Trésor (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ . The Chaise is one of those truly warm and welcoming cafés. The proprietor usually makes an effort to spend at least a couple of minutes at each table, and somehow manages to remember visitors even years later.
- Les Etages, 35, rue Vieille du Temple (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ .
- Stolly's, 7, rue Cloche-Perce (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ .
- Caféothèque de Paris, 52, rue de l’Hôtel de Ville (Metro: Pont Marie), ☎ . M-Su 09:30-19:30. Coffee in Paris is usually found to be lacking, but not in this mini temple to coffee. A gem tucked into a backstreet by the river in le Marais roasts their own beans from around the world and has a small laid-back café area with armchairs. Staff are passionate about great coffee, not just a scaldingly hot coffee! They have some cakes and wine, and speak Spanish and English.
- Dome Du Marais, 53 bis, rue De Francs Bourgeois, ☎ .
- Wake Up Paris, 31, boul Henri IV (Metro: Bastille). A wonderful little bar with a Brazilian tilt that serves excellent caipirinhas. The staff is friendly and eager to strike up a conversation, especially about cachaça, the Brazilian liqueur that forms the base of their signature drink. It's a wonderful spot for catching a football match as well.
- Queen Ann, 5 rue Simon le Franc (Métro: Rambuteau), ☎ . Tu-Su 12:00-19:00. The "salon de thé" serves soufflés and cakes. The small place has 12 tables. The hot chocolate makes the place highly addictable. €22-25 for a brunch.
There are tons of hotels, hostels, furnished apartments and guest houses in the 4th. Even still you should book ahead if possible as there is also tons of demand.
- MIJE, 6, rue de Fourcy, 12 rue des Barres, and 11 rue du Fauconnier (Metro: St. Paul), ☎ . Consistently given the highest possible ratings this organization actually runs three hostels in the Marais. The only possible drawback is that they have an afternoon lockout for cleaning. The MIJE Maubuisson on rue des Barres gets the nod of the three for being in an historic Tudor-style building. Dorm-room beds start at €32 at all three places. Single rooms are €52.
- Hôtel Rivoli, 44, rue Rivoli (Metro: Hotel de Ville), ☎ . In the heart of the city with cheap doubles. Terrific view from 5th floor single room. €30+.
- Grand Hôtel du Loiret, 8, rue des Mauvais Garçons (Metro: Hôtel-de-Ville), ☎ . A good value for the price and location. €45, or €60 with a shower.
- Grand Hôtel Jeanne-d'Arc, 3, rue de Jarente (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ . In the calmer part of the Marais, not far from Place de Bastille and Place des Vosges, this little hotel fills up well in advance, so you'll need to book ahead. €57 for a basic room.
- Hôtel du Septième Art, 20 rue Saint-Paul (Metro: Saint-Paul), ☎ , fax: +33 1 42 77 69 10. A little place done up in all black and white in homage to the cinema, the 7th Art offers a good value on comfortable rooms, and polite, quality service. Single rooms include air conditioning, WC, and shower. A 5min promenade to the Rue de Rivoli. €75+.
- Hôtel Hospitel, 1, Place du Parvis Notre Dame-Galerie B2, 6F (Metro: Cité), ☎ . You can't beat the location of this no-star but midrange offering on the Ile de la Cité located on the 6th floor of the Hospital Hôtel-Dieu a functioning hospital which is also classified as an official historical monument. Hôspitel offers quite a bit of service and comfort. Single €88.50, double €99.50.
- Hôtel Bastille Speria, 1, rue de la Bastille (Metro: Bastille), ☎ , fax: +33 1 42 72 56 38. This lovely little three star is at the far end of the 4th bumped right up against Place de Bastille. The place is inviting and the rooms are quite comfy and air conditioned. The location is good especially if you are interested in fine dining, as the place is surrounded by some of the better bistros on the right bank. €95 for a single.
- Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais, 12, rue Vieille-du-Temple (Metro: Saint-Paul or Hôtel-de-Ville), ☎ . These are are of the expected (small) size for Paris though elegantly appointed in 18th century style. Equipment includes air conditioning. Tea and coffee at the reception. The courtyard is a two-by-two metre light shaft, so rooms facing it have no view, and are quite dark on the ground and first floors. A simple request to avoid them on booking will suffice. The staff speak English well. Single for €137.
- Hôtel de Lutece, 65, rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile (Metro: Pont-Marie), ☎ . €158.
- Hotel Notre Dame, 19, rue Maître Alberte, ☎ . On a typical and quiet little street, looking out on the Seine and facing Notre Dame Cathedral. Every room is uniquely styled and decorated and equipped with a complete, marble bathroom.
- Jardins de Paris Marais-Bastille, 14, rue Neuve-Saint-Pierre (Metro: Bastille), ☎ . Singles for €120, doubles for €135.
- Hôtel Central, 5, rue saint Paul (Metro: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ .
- Hôtel de la Place des Vosges, 12 rue de Birague (Metro: Bastille or Saint-Paul), ☎ , fax: +33 1 42 72 02 64. The rooms are tiny, as is the staircase, but they are also pristine, some of the rooms have been renovated recently with shiny new marble bathrooms. The staff also gets high marks for professionalism and for general helpfulness. €101-140.
- Hôtel de Nice, 42bis, rue de Rivoli (Metro: Hôtel de Ville). Just two blocks from the Ile de St. Louis, the Hôtel de Nice offers tiny but lovely rooms. Ask for one with a balcony, some of which have a view of Notre Dame. The furniture is hand-painted with a floral theme which continues throughout the room. The area can be a little loud though, so if you want peace and quiet look elsewhere. €60+.
- Hôtel Rivoli, 44 rue de Rivoli (Metro: Hôtel de Ville), ☎ . Great location next to the Hôtel Rivoli. Can be noisy if you have a room which faces the street. Double for €48.
- Bibliothèque Publique d'Information. This library in Centre Pompidou offers free Internet for 40 min. It's very popular so expect a queue for getting in and at least one hour waiting time to use the computers. The entrance to the museum isn't the same as the one to the rest of Centre Pompidou, but is around the back of the building.
|Routes through 4th arrondissement|
|La Défense ← 1st arrondissement ←||W E||→ 12th arrondissement|
|18th arrondissement ← 1st arrondissement ←||N S||→ 5th arrondissement → 14th arrondissement|
|3rd arrondissement ← 11th arrondissement ←||N S||→ 13th arrondissement|