The Marais district gets its name from its location: once a marshland (‘marais’), it has been inhabited ever since it was drained back in the 12th century. This historic area is now one of the most visited districts of the French capital, for its architectural heritage as well as its unique vibe. The district is shaped like a triangle, bordered respectively by Place de la Bastille, Place de la République and the Hôtel de Ville. It has a number of private mansions dating to the 17th and 18th centuries, some of which have been converted into internationally renowned museums such as the Musée Picasso, the Maison de Victor Hugo and the Musée Carnavalet. The beautiful and well-proportioned square known as Place des Vosges is a highlight of a stroll through the Marais. Rue des Rosiers, the Jewish quarter of Paris, is well worth exploring for its old-world atmosphere and its offbeat shops and restaurants. The Marais has any number of trendy shops and restaurants, as well as its own department store, the BHV Marais. There are of course plenty of gay-owned bars, shops and clubs in the Marais, as it is France’s biggest gay district.