The Marais is an area in Paris which you must visit when there. The best time to go is undoubtedly Sunday, when much of Paris is closed but when the Marais comes fully to life. Do not be stupid like me and think you’ll spontaneously find a nice brunch place here. You might find many great looking places, but they won’t have a free table for you. You really need to book for Sunday brunch.
Starting in the northern Marais, the more residential, local part of the area – there are plenty of wonderful places for brunch. Healthy hotspot Season (for other healthy options check out this post) has a terrace in the sun, as do a number of other lovely looking places on Rue Charles-Francois Dupuis.
Cafe Pinson and La Petite Table are both small but come very highly recommended. There are always queues so, if booking is possible, book! If you want to just grab a coffee on the go, I’m told that Ob-la-Di (so tiny it’s almost like a hole in the wall) makes the best coffee.
Walk south down Rue de Turenne, which for 5 minutes or so is a bit of a brunch waste-land. Soon you’ll notice more people (tourists!) and more restaurants, more bars and more shops. This is the heart of the Marais, around Place du Voges (a must-visit) and Rue Vieille du Temple. It is a shoppers paradise, with plenty of vintage shops, as well as all your favourite French brands (Maje, Sandro, Claudie Peirlot, Cottonniers des Comptoir).
The most popular place by far seems to be Benedict. I’ve never seen queues like it (not even in London). They (apparently, I obviously wasn’t going to wait) serve an excellent French/American brunch. I guess it’s popular for a reason!
Les Philosophes is brilliantly located on Rue Vieille du Temple, with a fairly large terrace and thus ideal for people watching. This is a bit of an institution, the food is as French as it gets (if slightly unrefined) and the prices reasonable (they rip you off though on the bottled water – 5 euros, opt for a carafe instead). The waiters are either friendly and upbeat, or over-worked and stressy (in which case you just can’t take it personally).
For something slightly more upmarket and quieter, try Jaja. It’s set back from the Rue Saint-Crois de Bretonnerie, with a lovely courtyard and a small, more exclusive menu (more lunch than brunch). Opposite, you will find the charming Au rendez vous des amis, which you again must book – it serves traditional French food and the staff are charming. I was gutted not to be able to get a table here as it looked heavenly.
On the way to St Paul Metro station you must stop by Maison Georges Larnicol, for the best chocolate in town (and good as a snack on the Eurostar home). You won’t regret it.
In short, there are plenty of options for an excellent brunch in the Marais, but just save yourself a lot of hassle, and book before you go!
NB I have not eaten at all the above recommendations.