Marais(märā`) [Fr.,=swamp], old quarter of Paris, on the right bank of the Seine. Until the 18th cent. it was the most aristocratic section of Paris. The Hôtel des Tournelles, long the residence of the kings of France (Henry II was killed in its court during a joust), was replaced with the Place des Vosges. The Marais park, surrounded by uniform houses in pink brick and gray slate, remains a perfect ensemble of 17th-century architecture. Nearby is the Carnavalet, once the home of Mme de Sévigné, which now houses the municipal museum of Paris. During the 19th cent. it became a ghetto area for Jewish refugees from E Europe. Since 1969 a major restoration program has been underway, including the renovation of several museums, mansions, and hotels, such as the 17th. cent. Hotel Sully.
or Plaine, the name given by contemporaries to the group of deputies that formed the majority in the National Convention during the Great French Revolution. The Marais did not join any of the contesting political groups but followed the one that was the strongest at the given moment. The most visible leaders of the Marais were Sieyès, Thibaudeau, and Barras. The Marais at first supported the Girondists in the convention and then the Jacobins; during the period of the split in the Jacobin bloc (March 1794) they supported Robespierre. During the Revolution of Thermidor (July 27–28, 1794), the Marais went over to the side of the counterrevolutionary conspirators. The deputies of the Marais enjoyed great influence in the Thermidor Convention. The name “Marais” later became attached to political groups whose behavior is characterized by vacillation, indecision, and the inclination to avoid battle.