PARIS 3 IN A NUTSHELL
Paris 3rd arrondissement is one of the most touristy districts in Paris, together with Paris 1 and Paris 4 of course! This is a district very appreciated for its quality of life. However Paris 3 has many faces, with three interesting areas which deserve a little detour . . .
In the 3rd arrondissment we can find half of le Marais (the other half is in Paris 4). This is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Paris, especially known for its beautiful architecture, trendy and vintage boutiques and art galleries. Le Marais means “marsh” in French and long, long time ago it was just this, a marshland. Things changed in the XIV century when Charles V drained the marshlands and included this area inside the new ramparts surrounding the city. After some security incidents at Ile de Cité the king decided to move to Hôtel Saint Pol in the Marais. Consequently, all the important people followed the king, building beautiful residences (hôtels particuliers) around the new royal palace. Some of these hôtels particuliers host today interesting museums opened to the public.
The heart of this half le Marais is (in our opinion) Musée des Archives Nationales (at Hôtel Soubise), hosting the French Archives from the Merovingians to 1958, AND Musée Carnevalet (Hôtel de Sévigné) dedicated to the history of Paris.
Update ! Musée Carnevalet is currently closed for renovation works until end of 2019
The Historical Quarters of Temple and Arts et Métiers
Paris 3rd arrondissement also includes the historical quarters of Temple and Arts et Métiers, today considered part of le Marais. The name “Temple” comes from the Knights of Templar, the religious and military order who by the XIVth century owned the land around le Marais. Many artisans and craftsmen established within the Templars’ walls, where the monarchy had no jurisdiction to collect taxes. Their wealth lasted until 1307, when king Philip IV imprisoned the Templars and confiscated their lands. Today the beautiful Musée des Arts et Métiers stands as a silent testimony of this arts & crafts past richness. Other remarkable buildings in this area are Carreau du Temple, a covered market occupying the former site of the Knights Templar’s medieval enclosure and Marché des Enfants Rouges, the oldest covered market in Paris, built in 1628.
Finally the 3rd arrondissrment is the home of the Wenzhou Chinese community which was the first Chinese community (there are 3 Chinatown in Paris!) to arrive to Paris as recruited laborers during WWI. This community is settled in the streets around colorful Rue au Mairie, a picturesque area which deserves some exploration.
TOP SIGHTS IN PARIS 3
No surprises here: you can find all these places on all the guidebooks about Paris so no article talking about the 3rd arrondissement would be complete without these Paris tourist places. If you are visiting Paris for the first time you will like to visit some of them, they are touristy but beautiful !
Archives Nationales Museum
Arts et Métiers Museum
Musée d’Histoire et d’Art du Judaïsme
BEST THINGS TO SEE IN PARIS 3 (AMAZING OR QUIRKY SIGHTS)
Some of them are part of touristy sights, some of them are hidden gems. This is our personal list of best things to see in the 3rd arrondissement if you want to know le Marais like a local.
Nicolas Flamel’s house – built in the XVth century, this is the oldest house in Paris (51 Rue de Montmorency)
The Defender of Time – a giant (and eternally damaged) mechanical work of art in the form of a clock at Quartier de l’Horloge
The tallest caryatid in Paris – an intriguing 3 floors high sculpture at 57 rue Turbigo
Charming Passage de l’Ancre – a hidden gem only few locals know!
Quirky Avion #3 at Musée des Arts et Métiers – this “flying machine” (1897) resisted few seconds in the air during its inauguration flight before crashing down!
Musée Lapidaire at Square Georges Caïn – salvaged sections of the old Tuileries Palace (destroyed by a big fire) and other stone curiosities
The Statue of Liberty’s original molding – at Musée des Arts et Métiers
BEST THINGS TO DO IN PARIS 3
If you want to walk around le Marais to soak up the atmosphere, we recommend to go in weekdays: le Marais on Saturday is very crowded! We like to go to the 3st arrondissement from time to time because there are always interesting photography exhibitions proposed by the district’s countless art galleries. But of course there are many other interesting things to do in Paris 3rd arrondissement. Here is our list of best things to do in the 3rd arrondissement if you want to know le Marais like a local.
Early morning tai-chi session – join the local Chinese community at Square du Temple
Get lost at Marais and admire its beautiful architecture – we especially love the hideous masks over the main doors
Book + some sun rays in one of the hôtels’s secluded gardens – our favorites are at Hôtel Cognac-Jay and Hôtel Soubise
Coffee + friends + people watching – enjoy Marais’ extraordinary cafe culture
Musée de la Poupée – a nice travel back in time to your childhood
Visit the Grands Dépôts at Musée des Archives Nationales – this is France’s most precious treasure !
Listen to the Afghan crickets’ singing at Arts et Metiers metro station – the metro’s temperature (27° to 34° at rush hour) is perfect for these clandestine crickets coming from Afghanistan
Give in and buy your favorite comic book at “Les Super Héros” – 175 Rue Saint-Martin
Thursday= vernissage night = free champagne! – in the endless number of art & photography galleries in the area
WHERE TO EAT IN PARIS 3 (LE MARAIS)
Le Marché des Enfants Rouges (39 Rue de Bretagne) is very popular, with interesting proposals at a reasonable price.
Asian food lovers will have a blast at rue au Mairie and surrounding streets. Real Chinese Restaurants (also some Vietnamese Restaurants) which are always full.
Check other proposals of best places to eat in Paris (by Paris arrondissement) on Yummy Paris. This is a living page which we are continuously “feeding” with our Parisian friends’ suggestions so we recommend you to come back from time to time to check the newest additions.
WHERE TO STAY IN PARIS 3
On Where to Stay in Paris section we always try to give 3 top options of best hotels in Paris in each price brackets. Have in mind that this is very trendy area and the prices are higher. For the same price you can have better quality in other districts. Because the budget proposals in the 3rd arrondissement do not convince us, we prefer to propose a luxury hotel and two mid range options instead. You can check all the hotel options for the 3rd arrondissement here
A luxury hotel & spa located at Place des Vosges in the Marais, Rooms are individually decorated and very spacious. Facilities include a spa, fitness centre and hammam. Its beautiful secluded garden is perfect to end your day with a drink.
Located at the heart of Marais and entirely designed by Christian Lacroix, it is impossible to have a better combination history + design. Guests can use complimentary bicycles and enjoy free access to the spa at Hotel Pavillon de la Reine, a 10-min walk away.
A great little hotel with a lovely (and eclectic) decoration and unique ambiance. Very good location (close to Musée des Arts et Métiers). Nice staff, delicious breakfast and a cool vibe in the common areas.
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