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This chic Paris district is becoming the trendiest city break in Europe

Simon Calder’s Travel

At Boubalé restaurant in Paris, you won’t find steak frites on the menu. But you will find sea bream with Persian sabzi, olives, pine nuts and tahini sauce or a frisbee-sized schnitzel with a side-serve of fermented cabbage.

Next door at the sexy little Bar Boubalé, the cocktail of the day is an unlikely mix of Grand Marnier, croissant syrup and fermented tomato.

“You’re really going to order that?” asked my friend Shelley.

But after one sip she tried to wrestle it from me.

Boubalé is part of Hotel Le Grand Mazarin, a fittingly radical newcomer in Le Marais, the central Parisian district that has lived through centuries of radical change.

What started life in the 12th century as the marshland it was named after became Paris’s most fashionable district in the 16th and 17th centuries when the bogs were drained and grand villas were built for the Parisian bourgeoisie.

Bar Boubalé at Le Marais’s Le Grand Mazarin attracts a trendy yet laid-back crowd
Bar Boubalé at Le Marais’s Le Grand Mazarin attracts a trendy yet laid-back crowd (Vincent Leroux / Le Grand Mazarin)

After the Revolution, Le Marais began a long period of decay until it was re-colonised in the 20th century by artists, writers and avant-garde actors – and it hasn’t looked back since.

Le Marais is once again having its moment, and now hums with indie boutiques, concept stores, modern art galleries, bijou museums and fabulous, eclectic food produced by its diverse and creative community.

Hotel Le Grand Mazarin is a case in point. Since it opened last September on the eve of Paris Fashion Week, it has become Paris’s latest hot spot. The five-star boutique hotel in a restored 17th-century villa has had the full Wes Anderson treatment – a crazily camp melange of salmon pinks, aquamarines and marine themes created by the design team behind Annabels in London.

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The restaurant Boubalé draws its influence from far Eastern Europe, from the folk prints on the walls to the food, reflecting the immigrant heritage of Le Marais in the most delicious way imaginable. In the basement is a fairy grotto spa with a peppermint striped swimming pool, Jacuzzi and steam room.

It is also the perfect base to explore Le Marais over a couple of days, before Olympics madness takes over the city. I’ve travelled to Paris frequently, but I still can’t quite get over the fact you can jump on the Eurostar at London St Pancras and be walking…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…