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Paris: Wonders of the 4th Arrondissement

Paris: Wonders Of The 4th Arrondissement

Before diving into the various things you can see and do at the 4th Arrondissement in Paris, it’s necessary to understand the Arrondissement system first. The French Capital consists of 20 arrondissements or you can call them districts. The 4th arrondissement is known as Quatrième and together with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd arrondissements, they form the first sector of Paris.

In addition to being known as Quatrième, the 4th arrondissement is also known as Hôtel-de-Ville. In almost every corner of the 4th arrondissement there’s a historical building or square, such as the Paris City Hall building from the Renaissance era and the Renaissance square of Place des Vosges. Not to mention the eastern parts of the two famous Seine islands; Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis.

In this article, we’ll learn a bit of history about the 4th arrondissement. Then we’ll head to exploring the different historical buildings and monuments you can visit. I’ve got you covered with the best hotels and restaurants in the area. Most importantly, where you can shop for basics and some extravagant pieces as well!

History Snippet: The 4th Arrondissement

If you’re a history and culture lover, the streets of the 4th arrondissement are the perfect hub for you. Between little cafés and shops, historical landmarks and the different streets and squares, you are guaranteed to have an enjoyable day every time. The 4th arrondissement is the third smallest arrondissement in Paris.

Despite early inhabitants have occupied the Île de la Cité since the 1st century BC, the area of the 4th arrondissement on the River Seine, has only been inhabited since the 5th century. The southern part of Le Marais is located in the arrondissement and this area has been home to a significant Jewish population since the 19th century.

What to See and Do around the 4th Arrondissement

Between the folds of the 4th arrondissement, there are religious buildings, memorials, parks, libraries, cultural centers and museums. Before getting to these landmarks, we’ll get to know a bit about one of the most important districts of the 4th arrondissement and Paris; Le Marais.

Le Marais

The Maris district takes part of both the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in Paris. For a long time, the district was the hub of aristocrats back in history. With an eventful history, the district today is home to many historical, architectural and fashionable streets in the capital. Many of the buildings in Le Marais have significant historic and architectural importance.

As part of the 4th arrondissement, Le Marais began to build its reputation back in time after the Order of the Temple built its fortified church in the northern part of the district in 1240. The district earned the name the Temple Quarter and many other religious buildings were constructed nearby. Such as the des Blancs-Manteaux and the convents of de Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie and des Carmes-Billettes.

Since the beginning of the 17th century, Le Marais gradually became the favorite residence for the French nobility. Under instructions from Henry IV to built the Place Royale, currently Place des Vosges and many nobles built their hôtels particuliers there, choosing the area as their place of living.

However, close to the end of the 18th century, most of the nobility had abandoned their homes in favor of other mansions. Only a handful of nobles still lived there including the Prince de Soubise. During and after the French Revolution, the district lost all its nobles and was subsequently forgotten.

After the French Revolution, the district was home to many merchants and commerce thrived in the area. Since then, one of Paris’ main Jewish communities started to put down roots in Le Marais. Since the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, many Eastern European Jews settled in the area around Rue des Rosiers, otherwise known as Pletzl.

Even though the Jews helped enrich the Marais’ clothing industry, they were still targeted during the Second World War by the Nazis and many of them were either sent to concentration camps or killed. After the war, the damage to the district was unmeasurable and most of them culturally and historically important buildings fell into disrepair.

Culture Minister Andre Malraux who served with President Charles de Gaulle, proposed making Le Marais the first secteur sauvegardé, literally safeguarded sector. The purpose of this was to help protect and safeguard the historical and cultural places in the district. After this, a huge restoration campaign began and many of its Hôtels particuliers were restored and turned into museum and cultural institutions.

Today’s Le Marais is one of the most fashionable districts the 4th arrondissements in Paris. The district has a historical, cultural and thriving restaurants and cafés. Many of the Marais’ notable places are Center Pompidou, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme, the largest French museum of Jewish history.

Most hôtels particuliers restored in the district are part of Place des Vosges, such as Pavillon du Roi (the King’s Pavilion), Pavillon de la Reine (the Queen’s Pavilion). There’s Maison de Victor Hugo, Hôtel de Sully and Hôtel d’Angoulême Lamoignon which hosts the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris (the Historical Library of the City of Paris).

Now, let’s get to what you can see around the 4th arrondissement!

Religious Buildings in the 4th Arrondissement

1.    Notre-Dame de Paris:

When you speak of Paris, the Notre-Dame cathedral in the 4th arrondissement is mostly what springs into your mind. This beautiful cathedral is known across the world even to those who’ve never been to France. Simply known as Notre-Dame, its name means “Our Lady of Paris” and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.

Notre Dame de Paris at Ile de La Cite

Several religious buildings have once stood on the same site before the Notre-Dame. The first was a Gallo-Roman Temple that was dedicated to Jupiter. The discovery of the Pillar of the Boatmen in 1710 beneath the cathedral confirms this fact.

The Cathedral of Saint Étienne was later built on site between the 4th and 5th centuries and was about half the size of the current Notre-Dame. The entrance of this cathedral was situated about 40 meters west of the present west façade of Notre-Dame.

A Romanesque remodeling of the Saint-Étienne was the last building on site before the present-day Notre-Dame. The new church wasn’t big enough to accommodate the growing population of Paris so the Bishop of Paris; Maurice de Sully ordered the demolishing of Saint-Étienne and the building of a new, much larger church reusing the materials from the old church.

Construction of the new church began in 1163 and even though the church was largely completed by 1260, it was modified several times until the construction works were completed in 1345. The church lived a time filled with abandonment, rededication, disfiguration and plunder through and after the French Revolution. Many of the frescos were tarnished, the biblical kings’ statues were beheaded after being mistaken for French Kings. Even the restoration works ordered by the new bishop appointed by Napoleon weren’t enough to restore the church to its former glory.

A loud cry by Victor Hugo through publishing his famed novel “Notre Dame de Paris” or “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” succeeded in turning eyes towards the decaying state of the church. The novel was published in 1831 and official restoration works only began in 1844 by official order from King Louis Philippe. Many roadblocks faced the assigned architects and their teams, most significantly the constant reduction of the set budget.

Restoration works finished, a new spire and sculptures of mythical creatures were added and luckily the church survived with minimal damage during World War II. A massive restoration work began in 1991 to reverse the effects of erosion on the stone masonry of the cathedral due to air pollution in Paris. Just in time for the millennium celebrations at the end of 1999, all restoration works were finished.

In 2019, a fire broke in the attic of the cathedral in the 4th arrondissement due to ongoing restoration works. Despite the continuous restoration projects of the cathedral, the deteriorating condition of the building only worsened. This prompted another restoration project in 2018 beginning by the renovation of the cathedral’s spire.

Side View of Notre Dame de Paris

The spire collapsed during the 2019 fire, the part of the wooden rood was damaged and tons of lead and stone covered the surrounding area as a result. The most important task after the fire was cleaning the area around from the debris and stabilizing the building of the cathedral. It was only in September of 2021 that the agency in charge of the restoration works announced the stabilization of the cathedral building was complete and restoration works can begin.

The reconstruction team hopes to finish their work by Spring of 2024, just in time for the opening of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. The French President Macron stated that the first public mass will be held in the cathedral in 15th of April, 2024 whether the reconstruction works will be finished by that time or not.

2.    Tour Saint-Jacques:

What remains of the demolished 16th century church; Saint Jacques de la Boucherie is this 52 meters high tower in the 4th arrondissement. The former church was dedicated to Saint James the Great and it welcomed pilgrims setting out to head to Tours and were headed for the Way of St. James. This particular tower was built between 1509 and 1523 and was a reflection of its wealthy patrons; the butchers of the nearby Les Halles market.

The entire church was demolished in 1793 during the French Revolution leaving only the tower. Conservation of the tower was imminent so it was bought by the City of Paris in 1836 and declared a historical monument in 1862. The tower was restored during the Second Empire, placed on a pedestal and a small city park was built around it.

There’s a couple of statues above and beside the tower. A statue of its saint was installed on top of the tower in the 19th century. A statue Blaise Pascal; a French scientist was erected at the base of the tower. While one of the church’s patrons, Nicolas Flamel was buried beneath the tower.

Recent surveys have revealed that most of the stone of the tower is the original stone dating back to the 16th century when the tower was built and were not restored during the 19th century restorations. From October 2008 to February 2009, the scaffolds and the sheeting were removed and renovation works on the surrounding park took place as well. The park reopened to the public in April 2009.

3.    Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais Church – Le Marais:

This centuries old church in the 4th arrondissement contains beautiful of medieval carved choir stalls, 16th century stained glass, sculptures from the 17th century and modern stained glass. The Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais-Church is located on Place Saint-Gervais in the Marais district. Until 1975, the church was a parish before it turned into the headquarters of the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem.

A church dedicated to the Milanese Saints Gervasius and Protasius existed on the same site of the current church as early as the 7th century, continuously establishing the first church on the right bank of the river Seine. The second and much larger church on the same site was built in the early 13th century.

Construction works of the present church began in 1494 using a Gothic architectural style. Building suffered several times because of religious wars and lack of funds and subsequently stopped. Chapels of the apse were finished in 1530, the transept was finished in 1578 and the first stone of the French Baroque façade was laid by King Louis XIII in 1616.

Peace in the church was disrupted mainly twice during its history. The first instance was when it was emptied from its contents and turned into a Temple of Reason and Youth during the French Revolution. The building was returned to the church in 1802. The second instance was the falling of a German shell on the church in 1918 as a Good Friday mass was underway inside, thus killing and injuring many.

The church design beautifully combines Flamboyant Gothic architecture with French Baroque style. The French Baroque styled-façade was the first example of this architectural style in Paris. The nave includes elements of both late Gothic and Renaissance style such as the large semi-circular arches.

The choir stalls are carved with scenes from daily life, the Chapel of the Virgin at the back of the church has some of the oldest stained glass windows in Flamboyant Gothic style. Church of Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais is also home to many works of art.

4.    Saint-Louis en l’Île Church:

French for Saint Louis on the Island, this Roman Catholic Church in the 4th arrondissement has been a historical monument in the city of Paris since 1915. A previous church dedicated to Saint Louis built on the same site in 1622. Construction of the current church began in 1664 and was eventually finished in 1675. The church’s name is shared with the island on which it stand, Île Saint-Louis.

5.    Temple du Marais – Le Marais:

The Temple Saint-Marie was once historically known as the Church of Sainte Marie de la Visitation. The original Catholic church was built in 1632 as a church of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary; founded earlier in 1610. Construction of the church finished in two years, in 1634 in an original style under the supervision of Mansart and master mason Michel Villedo.

Temple Saint-Marie was completely emptied of its contents during the French Revolution and was initially used a storage of books seized from immigrants then used as a meeting place for revolutionaries. The Temple barely survived demolition in the process of creating Rue Castex in 1805.

The church was converted into a Protestant Church in 1802 after the Concordat of 1801 by Napoleon. The chapel along with several other churches were designated for the use of the Reformed believers who were once forced to practice their faith in hiding after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

After suffering damage during the Paris Commune with fierce fighting taking place right in front of the building, restoration works went underway in 1874. Two statues representing charity and religion were added on the pediment on the church’s façade. The church’s organ was built in 1895 with additional works in 1960 and 1992.

Temple du Marais in the 4th arrondissement has an active role in the daily life of its attendees. Four main services are held every Sunday; a French service, an African community service, a Japanese service and an Arabic service. The church opens its doors to tourists on Saturdays from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm with guided tours from volunteers.

6.    Notre-Dame-des-Blancs-Manteaux – Le Marais:

This Roman Catholic parish church is a historical monument located in the Le Marais district of the 4th arrondissement. It was built between 1685 and 1690 on the site of a previous church. The former church was built in 1285 by Les Blancs-Manteaux or “the white coats”. The white coats were the ones who also built the current standing church.

7.    Saint-Merri:

Dedicated to Saint Mederic of the 8th century, Mederic is also spelled as Merry in French, was made the patron saint of the Right Bank in 884. Mederic originally came to Paris on pilgrimage and died there in the year 700. The church is located along the rue Saint Martin on the Rive Droite (the Right Bank).

The current church in the 4th arrondissement was built between 1500 and 1550 in a Flamboyant Gothic style while the nave windows were made in the early 16th century. The pulpit was made in 1753 and the church’s bell tower has the oldest bell in Paris; it was cast in 1331. The church was designated a Historical Monument in 1862.

8.    Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis Church – Le Marais:

Located within the Le Marais district of the 4th arrondissement, this church is on rue Saint-Antoine of the district. An earlier church on the site was dedicated back in 1125 to Saint Paul the Hermit; an Egyptian monk regarded as the first Christian hermit and was buried in the Egyptian desert by Anthony the Great. The church later changed its dedication to be to Saint Paul of Tarsus.

The current church was built upon orders of Louis XIII in 1627. Jesuits finished building the church in 1641, combining traditional French elements infused with Italian ones as well. The church’s architecture is sometimes compared to that of the Gesu in Rome. Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis is longer and wider than the Gesu, especially regarding the tall windows.

As with most of the religious institutions in Paris, Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis was also affected by political turmoil. The Jesuits were suppressed in 1762 and the church was reassigned to the canons of Sainte-Catherine-du-Val-des-Ecoliers. The church was also converted to a Cult of Reason and the Supreme Being as with all churches during the French Revolution. The church was restored to Catholicism in 1802 after the Concordat of 1801.

Cultural Centers and Museums in the 4th Arrondissement

1.    Maison Européenne de la Photographie:

The European House of Photography was opened in 1996 with the dedication to contemporary photographic art. The building housing the museum; the Hotel Henault de Cantobre was built 1706 and was restored after the City of Paris bought it in 1914. A new wing was added on the Rue de Fourcy, which is along with ironwork and central staircases are examples of classical architecture.

With a design aiming at making the different forms of photographic media; exhibition prints, the printed page and film, easily accessible to everyone. The museum offers visits, conferences and film cycles explaining the exhibited works. The museum has been acting as the photographic library of the Paris libraries, archives and museums though its services are also extended to all French and foreign institutions.

The collections in the Hotel include more than 20,000 works of art, mostly photographs and videos. As much as 24,000 volumes about photography, artists’ books, technical and theoretical works including rare editions are on display in the MEP. Three or four yearly exhibitions are held with the dedication to artists, themes and movements of mainly the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

The Hotel houses an exhibition center, a library, an auditorium, a video viewing room with a wide collection of films and a café. There’s a photographic restoration and conservation shop as well. The European House of Photography is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm and there’s free admission every Wednesday from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

2.    Mémorial de la Shoah – Le Marais:

Established in 2005, the Museum of the Holocaust is a memorial located in The Marais district of the 4th arrondissement, since the district had the largest of Jewish populations at the beginning of the World War II. The opening day was January 27th, which coincides with the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The memorial consists of several parts: the forecourt includes a memorial listing the names of the death camps and the Warsaw Ghetto. The walls lining the passageway to the building list the names of more than 76,000 French Jews who were deported and murdered by the Nazis. The ashes of the victims from different camps were buried in the crypt since 1957.

Near the crypt, there are the Jewish files, created to identify Jewish citizens by the Vichy government, they were later used by the Nazis to track the Jews. The history of the French Jews during the Holocaust is documented and shown in the permanent exhibitions. In addition to photographs, texts, video and audio recordings, there’s an auditorium, a bookstore, a multimedia learning center and a documentation center and the Room of Names which is a research room.

Another wall is the Wall of the Righteous, which lists the names of more than 3,000 people, French or were acting in France during the Second World War. The names belong to non-Jewish people who helped save the Jews during the war.

3.    Maison de Victor Hugo – Le Marais:

Also known as Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée, Victor Hugo rented an apartment in the building and lived there for 16 years until his death. The building is located in the Parisian square, Place des Vosges where most mansions were built starting from 1605. French novelist Paul Meurice made a donation to the city of Paris to buy the house and turn it into a museum commemorating Hugo.

The museum comprises of an antechamber, a Chinese living room, a dining room and Victor Hugo’s bedroom where he died. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, the museum closes on Mondays and public holidays.

4.    Musée Adam Mickiewicz:

The Adam Mickiewicz Museum is dedicated to the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz who is considered a principle figure of Polish Romanticism. The museum was established in 1930 and has been a part of the Polish Library of Paris and displays several personal belongings of Mickiewicz in addition to an archive of autograph items. Guided tours are available in the museum Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings with prior reservations.

5.    Salon Frédéric Chopin:

Located within the Polish Library in Paris, this is a small museum dedicated to the Polish composer Frédéric Chopin. The museum is home to several mementos including Chopin’s death mask and a casting of his left hand. There are paintings, portraits, autographs, first editions and Chopin’s favorite chair. Guided tours in the museum are available Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings with prior appointments.

6.     Musée Boleslas Biegas:

Another museum within the Polish Library of Paris is the museum dedicated to the Polish painter and sculptor Boleslaw Biegas. The museum was established by Biegas himself in 1950 and contains his paintings and sculptures as well as works of other Polish artists such as Olga Boznańska and Tadeusz Makowski. Guided tours are available on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings but with prior reservations.

7.    Musée de la Magie:

The Magic Museum is also known as Musée de la Curiosité et de la Magie and Académie de la Magie. This private museum takes up the space of 16th century cellars beneath the Marquis de Sade’s house. Several items relating to magic shows are on display in the museum, including optical illusions, secret boxes, wind-up toys, magic mirrors and see-through glasses. The museum is open several times a week and magic shows are presented as well.

8.    Pavillon de l’Arsenal:

The Paris Center for Architecture and Urbanism is a free access museum of urban planning that is open every day except for Mondays. The building home to the museum was originally built between 1878 and 1879 and was only turned into a center of urban documentation and exhibitions of architecture in Paris in 1988. The museum’s permanent exhibition displays the evolvement of the city and its architecture.

9.    Salle des Traditions de la Garde Républicaine:

Literally the Hall of Traditions of the Republican Guards, the ceremonial unit of the French National Gendarmerie. The museum was created in 1984 in a former stable presenting the traditions of the Garde Républicaine from 1802 to the present day including the infantry, cavalry and military bands. The museum’s collection includes about 1,500 items of arms, uniforms, equipment, hairstyles, harnessing, musical instruments and documents. Entry to the museum is free as it is open on weekdays by appointment.

10. Centre Pompidou – Le Marais:

This high-tech architectural style building is simply known in Paris as Beaubourg; seeing as it is located in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement. The Pompidou Center is named after the French President Georges Pompidou who commissioned its building. An architectural team consisting of Richard Rogers, Su Rogers, Renzo Piano and Gianfranco Franchini was in charge of the construction.

National Geographic described the unique architectural style of the building as “Love at second sight!” The building was the first example of this reversed building style, people were not used to seeing the structural and mechanical systems and the circulation of buildings exposed on the outside.

The center is home to the Public Information Library (Bibliothèque publique d’information), the National Museum of Modern Art (Musée National d’Art Moderne) which is the largest museum of Modern Art in Europe, a public library and IRCAM (Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics and Music). Various exhibitions are held every year on either the first or sixth floors of the Pompidou Center.

11. Musée National d’Art Moderne:

The National Museum of Modern Art is one of the largest museums for contemporary and modern art in the world, in addition to being France’s national museum of modern art. The idea of creating a museum of modern art was manifested in the collections held in the Musée du Luxembourg, established back in 1818 by King Louis XVIII. The museum was the first of its kind in Europe.

The dream of constructing a museum dedicated to modern art was born in 1929. However, the decision wasn’t taken until it was 1934 and works only finished in 1937. The museum was built as part of the Palais de Tokyo and was temporarily used for another purpose. Construction works were hindered by the war and the museum missed its opening date in 1939.

Although the museum partially opened in 1942 with only a third of the collections allocated to it, the real opening took place in 1947. After the end of the Second World War and the addition of the foreign schools collections from the Musée du Luxembourg. These collections have been on display at the Musée du Jeu de Paume since 1922.

The museum moved to its current location in 1977 after the building of the Pompidou Center in Le Marais in the 4th arrondissement. During its time at the Palais de Tokyo, the museum’s collection grew bigger due to its first director’s relationships with many distinguished artists and their families. Works of artists such as Picasso and Braque were added to the museum.

Today, the National Museum of Modern Art holds the second largest modern art collection in the world, after the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The museum is home to more than 100,000 works of art of paintings, sculptures, photographs, cinema, architecture and design pieces. The works of 6,400 artists from over 90 countries dating back as early as Fauvism in 1905.

Works on display in the museum are often changed in order to show the public the variety and depth of its collection. A part of the collection is exhibited every two years alternately divided between two floors. One is dedicated to modern art from 1905 to 1960 on the 5th floor of Center Pompidou. The second is for contemporary art since 1960 on the 4th floor in addition to 5 exhibition halls. 

12. Musée Pierre Cardin:

Known for his avant-garde style and Space Age designs, Pierre Cardin has certainly left his touch on the fashion world. In a museum dedicated to the journey of Cardin’s designs, its title is “The work of a lifetime.” Pierre Cardin inaugurated the museum himself back in 2014, to share his love for couture, accessories, jewelry and design.

The museum director; Mrs. Renée Taponier, who worked with Cardin for more than 50 years will usher you during your tour at the museum. She will introduce you to the designer’s unique world through the 250 Haute Couture pieces on display from 1950 to 2000. She will explain the fabrics, materials and techniques used. The museum’s entire collection has 4,000 Haute Couture pieces regularly alternating on display.

The Pierre Cardin museum will reopen its doors in 2022!

13. Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris – Le Marais:

The Historical Library of the City of Paris, commonly known as BHVP, is a public library specializing in the history of the city of Paris. The oldest form of such a library was once part of the Hôtel Saint-Fargeau, it was once known as Bibliothèque Saint-Fargeau. The current library is located within the premises of Hôtel d’Angoulême Lamoignon in the Marais district of the 4th arrondissement.

Following the destruction of the old city library in 1871, the city moved to create a library dedicated to the history of the French capital under the name Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris in 1872. The library has been at its current location since 1969.

The Historical Library of the City of Paris is open to the public and provides free access to about a million books and booklets. There are 21,000 manuscripts, plans, maps and photographs covering a wide range of Parisian aspects such as topography, history, social and artistic aspects.

Documents in the library are as old as the 16th century up until the modern history of Paris and the Île-de-France region. Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris is part of the network of Paris municipal libraries and houses the city’s historical research service.

14. Jardin de l’Hôtel-Lamoignon – Mark-Ashton:

The Hôtel-Lamoignon – Mark-Ashton is a garden that is adjacent to the Hôtel de Lamoignon in the 4th arrondissement’s district of Le Marais. The garden was created in 1969 as a part of the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris. Once the property of the Hôtel d’Angoulême Lamoignon, the garden now belongs to the city of Paris.

During celebrations of World’s AIDS Day in Paris on December 1st, 2018, the garden was officially named and inaugurated. The garden can be accessed through the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris and is also regarded as a monument of AIDS victims.

15. Pavillon du Roi – Le Marais:

Rather known as the King’s Pavillon, Pavillon du Roi is located on the opposite side of Hotel de la Reine; the Queen’s Pavillon in Place des Vosges in the 4th arrondissement. Construction of Pavillon du Roi started in 1553 and finished in 1556 based on the designs sketched by Pierre Lescot in the mid-1540s.  The King’s Pavillon was considered by some as a visual substitute to the demolished medieval Louvre Tower back in 1528 by Francis I.

Inspired by the design of the Palazzo Farnese by Antonia da Sangallo the Younger in Rome, the west and south façades of the Pavillon du Roi have bossaged quoins. Such façades affected the architectural scene in Paris during the 16th century. However, the arched ground floor windows had the greatest affect, being copied by many generations of architectures.

Such influence can be seen visible in the design of the Louvre Colonnade and in the French Classical architectural scene in general. The pavilion’s ground floor was occupied by the Royal Council at first, then in 1672, the seat of the Académie Française. The first floor had the two rooms comprising the King’s chambers. In addition to Henry IV’s bedroom and a large ceremonial room where the King held court and sat with ambassadors.

A recent renovation work on the pavilion revealed a corridor connecting the two rooms of the Royal Apartment through to the King’s antechamber, from the upper main room of the Lescot Room. To the East of the King’s chambers, there are the small petit cabinet du Roi and the Queen Consort’s room.

A corridor created in the west of the pavilion and expanded later by Henry IV in the 1660s, led to three places: the Petit Galerie, the Grande Galerie and Tuileries Palace. An apartment primarily used by the King’s powerful relatives and close officials in the 17th century was on the second floor. While the third floor had an Italian-style belvedere, it was sometimes referred to as the Grande Cabinet.

Architect of the Louvre; Pierre Fontaine led an extensive makeover campaign of the Pavillon du Roi from 1806 to 1817. He had the upper levels demolished; in order to match the pavilion’s height with that of the Louvre Colonnade. Afterwards he literally gutted the entire building and drew up new plans for the interior.

A huge room was created on the ground floor centering around Venus de Milo, currently known as the Salle de la Venus de Milo. A smaller transitional room was also set up to open on Salle des Caryatides, currently known as Corridor de Pan. The paneling and ceiling of the two chambers of the first floor; Chambre à Alcôve and Chambre de Parade, were removed and the two rooms were taken down.

Later, Fontaine had the two rooms assembled as part of the Colonnade Wing, which is now part of the Department of Egyptian Antiquities. The space of the first and second floors were merged together with the 1668 extension to the south that was never finished. Together they made for a sky-lit room with high ceiling, known as the Salle des Sept-Cheminées.

The successor of Pierre Fontaine; Félix Duban decorated the Salle des Sept-Cheminées and brought it to life. Recent cleaning works in 2020 and 2021 of this Salle revealed the vibrant colors of Duban’s work and how the colors survived through time until today.

16. Hôtel de Sully – Le Marais:

Built between 1624 and 1630 for the wealthy financier; Mesme Gallet, Hotel de Sully is located in Place des Vosges of Le Marais in the 4th arrondissement. The location of this specific mansion was picked carefully, as to provide access to Place Royale; Place des Vosges today. In 1634, Maximilien de Béthune;  the first Duke of Sully purchased the mansion fully furnished and decorated. He later commissioned the finishing of the redecoration of the mansion.

Sully was an advisor to King Henry IV, he was his trusted councilor when it came to supervising the rebuilding of the Place Royale back then; Place des Vosges today. The mansion stayed in the Sully family all through the 18th century, during which they added a new wing; in 1660 by Maximilien’s grandson, and several refurbishments were made.

During the 19th century, the mansion became a property of investment and was used for rent. Many alterations were made in order to accommodate traders, craftsmen and tenants. This was followed by new owners who were interested in the historical value of the building.

They carried renovation works on the mansion after being classified as a historical monument in 1862. The next big restoration campaign took place in 1944 and finished in 1973 after the mansion became property of the City of Paris. Today, the mansion is the seat of the Center des Monuments Nationaux; the French National Organization in charge of National heritage sites.

17. Hôtel de Sens – Le Marais:

The oldest mansion house in the Le Marais district of the 4th arrondissement, Hôtel de Sens is the home of the Forney Art library. The medieval mansion was originally built in 1345 as the home of the then powerful archbishops of Sens. King Charles V used the building for residence until kings settled in the Louvre Palace, the old mansion was destroyed.

The current mansion was built between 1475 and 1519 and again served as residence for the archbishops of Sens. When Paris became an archdiocese in 1622, the archbishops lost their power gradually and eventually the building fell into disrepair. It was confiscated during the French Revolution and sold in 1797.

Throughout the 19th century, the mansion was privately owned and housed shops, workshops and factories. A cannonball hit the mansion’s façade during the Trois Glorieuses street fights and lodged into the wall. The cannonball is still visible today, a writing beneath it lists the date it hit the wall.

Hôtel de Sens was designated as a heritage site in 1862 and has been home to the Forney Art Library since 1961. The library specializes in decorative arts and hosts small exhibitions which are accessible to the public. There’s a small garden in the Hôtel, which is rather quiet even during the busiest times in the Le Marais.

18. Place Louis-Lépine:

This square in the 4th arrondissement is located on the île de la Cité. The square takes its name from Louis Lépine; an honorable prefect of the Paris police. The famous flower and bird market; the Marché aux fleurs et aux oiseaux de Paris is located within the square.

19. Rue des Rosiers – Le Marais:

The Street of the Rosebushes is at the center of the Jewish quarter unofficially called “Pletzl” in the 4th arrondissement. During the past decade, the little shops around the street and the Rue des Rosiers became notable for being a fashion hub, including some of the trendiest labels.

In general, shopping hours are restricted around Paris. However, due to Saturday being the Jewish Sabbath, an exception was given to the shops in this street. So, shops and cafés are open in the area on Sundays and holidays as well, which attracts great numbers of people, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.

Main Squares in the 4th Arrondissement

Several famous squares in Paris share the 4th arrondissement with other arrondissements as well. These being as follows:

Place de la Bastille

Who would’ve thought this neatly planned square was once a prison? Simple known as Bastille, this square was structured where the Bastille prison was located, facing three arrondissements in Paris; the 4th, the 11th and the 12th arrondissements.

The Bastille was initially built as a defense fort of the city of Paris between 1370 and 1383 during the reign of King Charles V. It wasn’t until the 17th century that the defense building was converted into a prison, by Cardinal Richelieu. Otherwise known as the Duke of Richelieu was the chief minister of King Louis XIII.

The prison mainly held political prisoners, in addition to several religious prisoners as well as rebellious youngsters held by request of their families. The infamous reputation of the prison started when it was used to hold people detained according to lettres de cachet issued by the King of France.

View of Place de la Bastille

Close to the end of the 18th century, the Bastille comprised of 8 towers, surrounding two courtyards and the armory. French Kings Louis XV and Louis XVI worked on reforming the penalty system in France. This resulted in the stoppage of using the dungeons and the cells infested with vermin.

During the French Revolution, there weren’t many prisoners locked in the Bastille. However, due to its bad reputation, the people of Paris eventually stormed into the prison. On July 14th, 1789, around 600 people gathered in front of the prison asking for the surrendering of the personnel inside along with arms and gunpowder. Later that day, they broke into the prison

The area formerly occupied by the Bastille prison was turned into a square in 1792 to celebrate liberty and freedom. The building of a commemorating monument in the square though, proved to be more of a challenge. The original plan was to build a monument called the July Monument.

The monument was never built and a fountain was built in its place in 1793. In 1808, Napoleon decided to have a monument in the shape of a giant elephant built and erected in the middle of the square. A full-scale plaster model of the elephant was the only structure built and it was later demolished in 1846. Today’s July Column was ordered to build by King Louis-Philippe in 1833 and inaugurated in 1840.

Place de la Bastille stands today in the area of the former demolished fort. Even though not much remains of the demolished fort, some stones were uncovered during excavations for the Metro station and were moved to a park several meters away. The outline of the former fort is marked by special bricks in the pavement.

The square is home to the Opéra Bastille, a small marina, the Bassin de l’Arsenal and the covered canal of Canal Saint-Martin. On Sundays and Thursdays, part of the park in the north of Place de la Bastille is transformed into an open-air market. You can find many items in the market in addition to food and grocery, such as clothes and all products you can expect to find in a flea market.

Place de l’Hôtel de Ville

Literally the Square of the City Hall or City Hall Plaza, this square in the 4th arrondissement was once known as Place de Grève. The current location of the square was once the sandy right bank of the River Seine where the first Paris harbor was built.

Place de Grève had quite the reputation back in time, it was once a public meeting place and a place where the unemployed gathered in their search for work. Place de Grève is remembered due to its infamous reputation; being the site of public executions in early Paris. Only high profile executions took place in the square such as those of the assassin François Ravaillac and the heretic Marguerite Porete.

The history of Place de Grève after that remained bleak. The French Revolution resulted in the use of the guillotine for executions in the square, starting from 1792. The square acquired its current name from the Hôtel de Ville or the City Hall. The building has been the location of the Municipality of Paris since 1357. It houses the local government council as well as being a venue for large formal receptions.

Place des Vosges – Le Marais

Shared between the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, Place des Vosges is located in Le Marais district. Formerly known as Place Royale, the square was once the vicinity of the medieval royal residence Hôtel des Tournelles. Catherine de Medici; wife of King Henry II, was raised in Roman-styled palaces so she despised the medieval style of Hôtel des Tournelles.

Catherine took her husband’s death as a sign to order the Hôtel des Tournelles demolished as she acted as regent on behalf of her underage sons. Henry IV tried to revive the old area by establishing a factory of silk, gold and silver but the project failed. He then donated a huge part of the area to his noblemen to build pavilions and make use of.

Place Royale or Place des Vosges was born between 1605 and 1612, establishing the first planned square in the city of Paris. Henry IV’s councilor, Duke of Sully was the appointed supervisor by the King to overlook the building of the pavilions according to the square’s original outline. Inauguration of the square took place in 1612 with a celebration of the engagement of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria.

A distinctive trait of the pavilions of Place des Vosges is the unified design of their façades; made with red brick with strips of stone quoins. All pavilions also have steep blue slated roofs with the same designated building height. Two pavilions only stand taller than all other pavilions, each on either side of the north and south façades, these being the King’s Pavilion known as Pavillon du Roi and the Queen’s Pavilion known as Pavillon de la Reine.

Most of the nobility living in the Place Royale moved out from Place Royale towards the end of the 18th century. The French Revolution saw the remaining nobility move out of the square and its name changed afterwards from Place Royale to Place des Vosges. The Vosges was the first department to pay taxes in support of the Revolutionary army.

Many famous people stayed in Place des Vosges over time. The only queen to stay there was Anne of Austria in the Pavillon de la Reine. Madame de Sevigné was born in Hôtel Coulanges, Victor Hugo lived in Hôtel de Rohan-Guémené until his death and even the Duke of Sully lived in Hôtel de Sully.

Place des Vosges today isn’t just a historical square in Le Marais, but it is also home to many museums, restaurants and shops. The square encloses a beautiful garden with four distinguished fountains decorated with lion heads. The garden is the perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon and the ideal place for a picnic.

Place du Chatelet

On the right bank of the River Seine, Place du Chatelet is between the 1st and 4th arrondissements. The square is at the north end of the bridge that connects the Île de la Cité to the right bank; Pont au Change.

The square derives its name from a former and now demolished fortification named the Grand Châtelet that once protected the northern end of the Pont au Change bridge. The stronghold was demolished between 1802 and 1810. The Victory Column, otherwise known as Fontaine du Palmier stands in the middle of the square, as a tribute to French victories in battle.

The Victory Column was built between 1806 and 1808. Standing at the top of the column is a figure of the goddess Victory with her hands raised towards the sky holding a wreath in each hand. The base of the fountain has four different figures depicting Prudence, Temperance, Justice and Strength. The Sphinxes around the fountain represent Napoleon’s victory in Egypt.

The bands of bronze gilt pay tribute to the victories achieved in several battles. These being the Siege of Danzig, the Battle of Ulm, the Battle of Marengo, the Battle of the Pyramids and the Battle of Lodi. The two identical-looking theaters facing Place du Chatelet; the Théâtre du Châtelet and the Théâtre de la Ville were built between 1860 and 1862.

Place Saint-Gervais

This square in the 4th arrondissement is mainly located in front of the Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais church. For long, the square was called Orme Crossroads or Orme Saint-Gervais as it was a custom to plant an elm tree in front of the church. The elm tree was an important place of gathering, judges solved disputes by the tree and debts were paid beneath the tree.

The old elm tree in the square was pulled out to enlarge the square around 1790. Between 1850 and 1854 the Place Saint-Gervais was enlarged and wasn’t limited only to the space in front of the church. The new name of the square was set in 1881 and the elm tree currently still standing there was planted in 1935.

Rue du Rivoli

Bearing the name of Napoleon’s victory in the Battle of Rivoli against the Austrian army, Rue du Rivoli is a street running through Le Marais of the 4th arrondissement of Paris. The street has on one of its sides the north wing of the Louvre Palace which was symmetrically designed and aesthetically pleasing to admire.

The single façade plan was continued by several kings after Napoleon. It was in the 17th century that construction of the Rue du Rivoli continued through Le Marais. Opposite the Louvre wing was the Place du Palais-Royale which was built for Cardinal Richelieu in 1624.

Opera Garnier was built at the north of the Rue du Rivoli. The opera was built 1861 and 1875, during the Second Empire. East along the Rue is the Place des Pyramides where the statue of the national heroin; Joan of Arc stands. The statue was erected close to where she was injured at the Saint-Honoré Gate in 1429.

Today, Rue du Rivoli is a commercial street that is a lively example of historical architecture infused with modernity. There are many shops and department stores on the street such as the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps behind the Opera Garnier.  

Top Hotels in the 4th Arrondissement

There are different hotels at various locations close to the 4th arrondissement. Some offer a great variety of services and excellent prices. Here are some of the top recommended hotels.

1.    Hôtel Beaubourg (11, rue Simon le Franc, 4th arr., 75004 Paris, France):

Perfect for a weekend away from the bustling daily life, Hotel Beaubourg is right in the heart of Paris. The rooms have been recently renovated and are equipped with several services such as air conditioning and en suite facilities. The hotel is minutes away from Notre-Dame de Paris, Centre Pompidou, the Louvre, the River Seine and many other Parisian attractions.

A two-night stay in a classic double room with a double bed, with a variety of available services such TV streaming service such as Netflix and air purifiers, will be 286 Euros. A superior twin room whether with two single beds or one large double bed, will be 316 Euros for a two-night stay plus taxes and charges.

2.    D’win (20, rue du Temple, 4th arr., 75004 Paris, France):

The modern rooms of this hotel invite you over for a pleasant stay in the City of Light. You will only be minutes away from many historical buildings and landmarks, as well as metro stations. The hotel has an interior courtyard which gives you some privacy away from the buzzing streets.

For a stay of two nights, a Comfort Double Room with a large double bed will cost 402 Euros plus taxes and charges. While a family room that can accommodate three adults will be 478 Euros for two-nights’ stay. An additional cost of 9 Euros can be paid if you choose to have breakfast at the hotel and all these offers include free cancelation and payment at the property when you get there.


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Paris: Wonders of the 4th Arrondissement