The 3rd arrondissement of Paris, situated on the right bank of the River Seine, is the smallest in area after the 2nd arrondissement. It is located in the heart of the city between the 2nd, 4th, 10th and 11th district of Paris.
The arrondissement contains the northern, quieter part of the medieval district of Le Marais (while the 4th arrondissement contains Le Marais' more lively southern part, notably including the gay district of Paris). The oldest surviving private house of Paris, built in 1407, is to be found in the 3rd arrondissement, along the rue de Montmorency.
The ancient Jewish quarter, the Pletzel (פלעצל, little place in Yiddish) which dates from the 13th century begins in the eastern part of the 3rd arrondissement and extends into the 4th. It is home to the Musée d'art et d'histoire du judaïsme and the Agoudas Hakehilos synagogue designed by the architect Guimard. Although trendy boutiques are now taking up many of the storefronts, there are still landmark stores selling traditional Jewish foods.
A small but slowly expanding Chinatown inhabited by immigrants from Wenzhou centers on the rue au Maire, near the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers housed in the medieval priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs.
Rue Rambuteau and Rue des Archives are the two main streets in this part of the Marais, known as Le Marais Beaubourg or Pompidou, because these streets are near to the Pompidou Centre. Which is why there so many small galleries exhibiting works by French and foreign artists, like the Gallerie du Marais. It also has the B.H.V, (Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville at the centre of the historic Jewish and gay quartier of the Marais and an emblematic shop for Parisians) where you can find almost anything.
It is also home to new designers and stylists, delicatessens, butchers, fishmongers, wine merchants, greengrocers, bakers and famous pâtisseries such as La Huré and Pain de Sucre and French master chocolatier François Pralus, inventor of La Praluline (brioche with a praline base that is eaten for breakfast).
The long streets, Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Rue des Archives and Rue Vieille-du-Temple are always busy, their fashionable boutiques and galleries pay homage to modern design. Once home to educated aristocrats, the quartier des Archives is now the favourite meeting place for people from the world of fashion who come to spot the trends of tomorrow.
This quartier has many associations with Judaism.
You can easily walk from here to Place des Vosges, Place de la Bastille, the Musée Cognacq-Jay, the Museum of the 18th Century, the Musée Carnavalet (devoted to the history of Paris) and the Maison de Victor Hugo (Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée). If you like walking, you can get to Place de la Concorde, the Champs-Elysées and the Louvre in under thirty minutes. There are several Vélib’ stations which give you the option to explore Paris by bike, like a real Parisian. You collect a bike from one station and return it to another. Vélib’ is an easy to use, self-service bike hire scheme that's available 24/7.