Guide to the 2nd Arrondissement of Paris
Where is the 2nd Arrondissement?
The 2nd arrondissement of Paris is located in the middle of the city, north of the 1st arrondissement, on the Right Bank of the Seine. This arrondissement is bound by four main roads: Boulevard de Sebastopol, Boulevard de Bonne Nouvelle, Rue Etienne Marcel, and Boulevard des Italiens. This is primarily a commercial area, filled with restaurants and shopping! Unlike some other areas in Paris, there aren’t a ton of touristy things to do in the 2nd arrondissement. It’s a great area to explore while in the city, especially if you want a taste of the “real” Paris!
Things to Do in the 2nd Arrondissement of Paris
Like I said, there aren’t a ton of tourist sights in the 2nd arrondissement, but there are a few must-see attractions in this district!
The 2nd arrondissement of Paris is home to many of the city’s covered passages, called “galeries” in French! There are several covered passages in Paris. Many were originally built during the mid-1800s to provide indoor shopping areas. At the height of their popularity, there were over 150 covered shopping arcades in Paris, but many have been destroyed and replaced with more modern structures. The galeries share some basic architectural elements: they are ornately decorated, with high glass ceilings and lights inside to give the appearance of being outside while walking inside the covered passage from one street to another. Today, these passages house stores and restaurants, just as they did when they were first built.
Galerie Vivienne is one of the main passages still operating today. It was originally built in 1823. When visiting this passage, you can step back in time to experience what Paris was like in the 19th century. You can enter the Galerie Vivienne on either Rue Vivienne or Rue de la Banque. This is a great rainy day activity in Paris, and there are other covered passages nearby in the 2nd arrondissement!
This beautiful building is the former location of the French stock exchange! Today, it serves as an event venue, but it’s still worth a peek inside if you can get in!
Basilica of Notre-Dame des Victoires
This church shares part of its name with the popular cathedral just a few blocks away, but it sees far fewer visitors. It was built in the early 1600s, and its interior is filled with large paintings.
Harry’s New York Bar
Without knowing the history of this bar, you might not give it a second look! However, the historical significance of this bar makes it a must-visit in the 2nd arrondissement. The bar opened in the early 1900s with an American owner and Scottish barman, and it gained popularity as famous American icons and expats like Ernest Hemingway and Humprey Bogart became frequent visitors. Other notable clientele includes Coco Chanel, Rita Hayworth, and Sinclair Lewis. The bar also claims to have created the original Bloody Mary cocktail.
The 2nd Arrondissement of Paris: A Local’s Neighborhood
Due to the laid-back nature of this neighborhood and the absence of any major tourist attractions, the 2nd arrondissement retains a sense of authentic Paris. With lots of restaurants and bars, this can be a great neighborhood to stay in when visiting Paris, and it’s just a short walk from the major attractions of the 1st arrondissement!
Are you visiting France for the first time? Check out my guide to your first French adventure!