18 The Marais Peter And this is my favourite square in Paris. The Place de Vosges. Merry
|18 - The Marais
Peter - And this is my favourite square in Paris. The Place de Vosges.
Merry - It’s lovely. I like the arcade.
Peter - Yes. They’re very convenient for buskers. You get a lot of them at the weekend, all doing their thing. It’s nicely sheltered from the rain.
Merry - There seem to be a lot of hotels around here. Why do some of them get special signposts?
Peter - Ah. They aren’t hotels in the sense you mean. They are more like mansions or manor houses – historic buildings. Nowadays a lot of them are museums.
Merry - There seem to be a lot of these historic buildings – hotels – in … what did you call it?… The Marais. And, by the way, why is it called that?
Peter - The Marais? Literally it means a marsh or a bog. In the Middle Ages the land here was wet and they didn’t build on it. Then, as Paris grew, it became a market gardening area and then it was seen as a nice bit of country for rich courtiers to build their homes in.
Merry - Well, it sure doesn’t look like marshland now. Little narrow streets, overhanging houses. There’s hardly room for a car to get down here.
Peter - No. The rue des Rosiers is pretty narrow.
Merry - But nearly all the shops are closed. Why’s that? There are lots of tourists about. Business should be good on a day like today.
Peter - Ah. Wrong day for this street. I forgot: It’s Saturday and this is still very much a Jewish area. A few years ago, everything was closed on Saturday. Now they’re letting up a bit. The tourists won’t starve.
Merry - How about these Hotels you were on about. Can we see one?
Peter - Sure. The art galleries and museums are open. How about a stroll round the Picasso museum? It’s in the Hotel Salé.
Merry - That’ll do nicely! © Mark Yates 2007