Paris/2nd arrondissement

The 2nd arrondissement of Paris is one of the financial centres of Europe, being home to the Bourse (stock exchange) and thus the CAC 40 index you hear about in world financial news. Other major activities in the neighbourhood are journalism and fashion.


Passage du Grand-Cerf

The 2nd is home to the galleries—covered passages lined with shops—which are quite possibly the prototypes of today's shopping malls. One finds shops, cafés and hotels inside.

While the aforementioned are all daylight activities, the east end of the arrondissement has an entirely different reputation, having been home to Paris's red-light district since sometime in the early renaissance.

Get in

By Métro

Being right in the middle of the city, the 2nd arrondissement is well served by the Métro system. 5 lines provide direct access to the district via 10 different stations.

Get Around

As the 2nd is the smallest arrondissement, it is easy to travel many places within it on foot. It's possible to comfortably walk the entire perimeter of the district in around an hour. Much of the SE corner is closed to traffic.




The 2nd arrondissement covers some of the nicest old parts of Paris.


There have been dozens of attempts by various regimes at all levels including the city, the state, and the church to chase the working girls away from the east end of the 2nd arrondissement, but for some reason they always come back. Interestingly, the word "bordello" originates here, from the boards that the women used to subdivide the rooms they rented in houses along the rue Saint Denis and others.

The press has had nearly as long a run in the neighbourhood just to the west, and several of France's major newspapers still maintain offices here.



The galleries

Prototypical indoor shopping malls, the galleries got their start in 1786 when the Duke of Orleans realized that there was money to be made by renting out his cloistered garden to small shops. With their glass roofs and tiled floors they were a welcome respite to the newly emerging middle-class shopper of the early 19th century, in the days before electric light and sidewalks.

A walking tour of the galleries can easily be accomplished in an hour or so, and is worthwhile even though they are long past their glory days. Start with La Gallerie Vivienne which is the best preserved of the galleries and whose décor has been maintained in authentic colours from the era. It's really the mosaic floor which is the star of the show. The shops are distinctly upscale, and all about conspicuous consumption: a wine seller, a tea shop, and a dealer in antique books are among the highlights.

The Passage Choiseul is a considerably more down-to-earth gallery, the passage mainly serves traders on their way to the bourse, with the same class of shops that one might find in a pedestrian tunnel in New York or Chicago: a shoeshine stand, a newsstand, and little almost-but-not-quite fast-food restaurants.

You can find more galleries throughout the arrondissement, including the Passage des Panoramas, the Passages des Princes, and the Passage du Grand-Cerf.


Map of the 2nd Arrondissement









Go next

Routes through 2nd arrondissement

Levallois-Perret 9th arrondissement  W  E  3rd arrondissement 20th arrondissement
18th arrondissement 10th arrondissement  N  S  1st arrondissement 14th arrondissement

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