Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Exploring the 2nd

Let's take a walk down the streets of one of the less famous arrondissements, the 2nd. Largely neglected in favor of its illustrious neighbor, the 1st, this area has only recently begun to attract tourist attention. Following Janelle McCulloch's advice in her book Paris: A Guide to the City's Creative Heart (which I will be using for most my arrondissement-specific ventures), I took an afternoon to explore the heart of this "lesser" sector of Paris. This was also my first time whipping out the big leagues camera since arriving (okay, it's just a Cannon Rebel t3i, but it's big leagues for me), so this post is more picture-book style.

First, I began my tour at Rue Montorgueil, where the streets fill with people running errands and window shopping. The sidewalks melt into the streets, encouraging pedestrians to meander amongst the delivery trucks and Vespas that occasionally whiz through.

I love the contrasting colors of cobblestone streets and sidewalks that cascade off each other.

Maybe it's the Americana influences, I just loved the colors and typography of this cafe

At another cafe, tiny pots of flowers beckon you to sit and relax a while. The romance of Paris hides in its details. 

There is a shop selling every kind of food you can imagine along Rue Montorgueil.

Moving along in the 2nd, there are some really lovely moments in ordinary places. For example, you never will see a more prestigious public announcement and ads wall.

Throughout the 2nd, I was in search of some 19th century covered arcades like these. In their day, they were ground-breaking luxuries in the world of retail. No longer subdued to the often rainy and muddy outdoor markets, shoppers flocked to these iron-ribbed, glass-covered passages couverts. 

Le Galerie Vivienne is a quiet, peaceful sanctuary amidst the bustling Paris streets. I couldn't believe how accustomed I was to the constant drum of traffic until I was walking these corridors.

And WHAT corridors to walk! Masterful mosaics lined the corridor paths, proving once again that in Paris, every surface is a canvas.

I love how preserved this little piece of history is. It looks like a lovely lady or snobbish duke might stroll by at any moment.

This is another famous arcade, Passage de Grand Cerf. While they aren't the most famous landmarks in Paris, I enjoyed these quieter, secluded pieces of history.

Grabbing a quick bus ride up to the west side of the 2nd, I snagged lunch at this well-placed cafe named Brasilia with great people-watching opportunities and--oh yeah, the Palais-Garnier as a backdrop.

This was the cheerful owner, Denes, who was more than delighted to let me take pictures of Brasilia, which has been around for over 80 years. And it's no wonder with its ideal locale, friendly service, and fantastic food. (May I recommend the chèvre chaud? I was so excited to eat it, I forgot to use my T3i to capture it.)

Speaking of friendly service, this is Thiery, the server who looks like he stepped right out a French resort catalogue. Doesn't he just make you want to GO to France?! I couldn't get enough of his warm demeanor and tiny rounded spectacles.

Once I finished a refreshing lunch, I moved on to the Palais-Garnier, which was closed for rehearsals, so I'll have to revisit soon. But the exterior afforded some exquisite displays:

In conclusion, I wouldn't say the 2nd was my favorite arrondissement I've yet explored. Just not my particular favorite in Paris. But I did see some particularly lovely scenes there.

Bonus: I love these chairs. Perfect balance of the color and grunge of the 2nd.

This man with his hair in a French twist. 
Because that's how the French men do.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Tony! This city is full of inspiration, so I'm sure there will be more to be had.