Situated in the very heart of Le Marais and overlooking a church which was commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu of the Three Musketeers (Église Saint-Louis-Saint-Paul), rue de Sévigné is easily one of the prettiest streets in the entirety of the city. Here’s a brief history, as well as highlights and things to know before you go.
Le Marais is an area which encompasses the 3e and 4e arrondissements of the city and whose name is quite literally translated into English as ‘the swamp’. Prior to this Middle Ages, this area of the city was literally a marshy area.
Today, it’s reminiscent of Paris of the Middle Ages, having escaped the Haussmannian overhaul of Paris during the 19th-century. Wander around today and you’ll discover narrow lanes, hidden gems, historic ‘hôtels,’ i.e. former mansion houses, and even a timber-framed house or two.
A history of rue de Sévigné
The first attestation of the street dates back to the 15th-century, when it was known as rue de la Culture-Sainte-Catherine or rue de la Couture-Sainte-Catherine, while the most northern part of what is now rue de Sévigné was then known as rue du Val.
Since a decree issued on the 27th February 1867, the road has been named rue de Sévigné. The road is named for Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné, who resided at what is now Musée Carnavalet up until her death during the 17th-century.
The marquise is remembered as a French letter writer, whose letters were addressed to her daughter and is nowadays celebrated as one of the most iconic women in 17th-century French literature. Today, the Parisian street crosses through the third and fourth arrondissements and the changeover happens at the point where the road intersects rue des Francs-Bourgeois.
Highlights of rue de Sévigné and things to do nearby
One of the best things to do not only along rue de Sévigne, but in Le Marais is to visit the Musée Carnavalet. Housed within two former mansion houses, the Parisian institution is complete with sumptuous decor and a well-manicured courtyard. The museum documents the history of Paris, right from its Roman foundations to its current manifestation.
Opened to the public in 1880, the Carnavalet Museum is home to gems such as a statue of the Sun King, Louis XIV (i.e. creator of the current Palace of Versailles) and over 2600 pictures. If you get the chance to visit, then I highly recommend a wander inside, if only to discover a small selection of all the wonderful gems contained the walls of this historic home turned museum.
Village Saint Paul
Antique lovers will by now know that Paris boasts a plethora of antique hunting and shopping opportunities, even for the most amateur of collectors. While Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen is the most famous place to visit, a smaller yet worthwhile market of sorts can be found in the form of Village Saint Paul.
Tucked away somewhere in the streets behind Église Saint-Louis-Saint-Paul and the River Seine just a short walk away from rue de Sévigné, this delightful courtyard area and its surrounding streets offer up a myriad of small independent shops selling everything from vintage furniture to vinyl collections. Discover more about how to visit the Village Saint Paul here.
Place des Vosges
If you make sure to visit just one park during your time in Paris, make it the ever-so-chic and classic Place des Vosges. Situated just one street over from rue de Sévigné, this Parisian square is the oldest public planned square in the city and is characterised by its red brick façades overhanging covered walkways which lend themselves to the many cafés and bars of the area spilling out onto the streets.