Bourse or Sentier are central areas with far more local takes on a low-key but glamorous part of Paris.
Not too far from the Louvre (see our 1st arrondissement mini guide) is a sublimely understated version of a glitzy Paris: 2nd arrondissement, an area surrounding metro stations Bourse and Sentier. As opposed to the 1st arrondissement where herds of tourists congregate, the 2nd arrondissement is often frequented by Parisian locals who have their favorite neighborhood hotspots. Although there aren’t as many well-known landmarks here, travelers can explore popular cocktail bars, local boutiques, and brilliant restaurants. For many groups of Parisian friends who live on opposite sides of the city, the 2nd arrondissement would be the point of meet-ups for its central location.
Passage des Panoramas – oldest covered passage
11 Boulevard Montmartre, 75002 Paris, France
Passage des Panoramas delivers a throwback walk for an experience of great food and drinks, where bazaars and souks established the Parisian philatelic trade. The passage opened when Parisian alleys were unlit, filthy with crowds, certainly not made for local shoppers. A few decades later, galleries became artistic additions embedded throughout the passage. Today, you can indulge in an artisanal meal at Racines, where a lovely selection of natural wine is superbly stored. For more natural wine, Coinstot Vino features smooth bottles that go down easy with a crispy thin-crust pizza. Stop by Caffè Stern for a delightful cup of authentic Italian espresso roasted by fourth generation coffee aficionados who hired designer Philippe Starck to create an interior space that oozes vintage glamour.
Galerie Vivienne – vintage gem
5 Rue de la Banque, 75002 Paris, France
A ten-minute walk south of Passage des Paronamas is another alluring passage: Galerie Vivienne. Built in 1823, this was another covered passage made for shoppers during a era when Parisian streets were muddy without sufficient lights. Galerie Vivienne captivated owners of tailors, wine connoisseurs, restauranteurs, and cobblers. Mosaic floors and sculptures are elegant backdrops for souvenir shopping without cheesy “I love Paris” keychains. You’ll discover an intimate Jerusalem bookstore, handmade cards, prints, and the original Jean-Paul Gaultier shop. Sipping on a glass of Côte du Rhône on Bistrot Vivienne’s outdoor terrace rounds up this exquisite experience.
Frenchie – seasonal tasting menus
5 Rue du Nil, 75002 Paris, France
Since its inception in 2009, Frenchie has made a name for itself as a modern culinary haven where diners can devour seasonal tasting menus for under 100€. Led by chef Greg Marchand, the staff and restaurant setting feels cozy and familial. Frenchie’s team works closely with local suppliers and farmers for fresh produce and ingredients so that la carte is constantly evolving. Due to its popularity, booking a dinner table in advance is highly recommended. If not, stop by for lunch or have a glass of wine across the street in case of no-shows.
Darocco – former Jean-Paul Gaultier flagship
6 Rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France
You might wonder why we’d recommend Italian cuisine in Paris. Darocco is unique for the building’s history, rather than its cultural cuisine. The exquisitely lavish interior décor is fitting since this was home to French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier’s flagship. Despite that JPG’s store is no longer there, Darocco’s staff pays homage to the legendary designer by sporting his signature navy stripe shirts. The foie gras pasta on the menu is outrageous – a definite must-eat. After dinner, head to the back of the restaurant where you’ll find Danico – a Brooklyn-style mixology bar beloved by local and international crowds.
Bambou – stylishly Thai
23 Rue des Jeuneurs, 75002 Paris, France
Another non-French eatery making the list for a truly Parisian ambiance, Bambou serves up tasty Thai tapas to the city’s chic and local regulars. Asian cuisine has been a trendy phenomenon in Paris’ culinary scene for several decades, hence Bambou’s acclaim isn’t a surprise. But the downstairs bar is a true gem, especially for smokers. During harsh winters, Bambou’s basement is one of the few lounges where indoor smoking is permitted. Plush couches, velvet chairs under low lit chandeliers make this favorite spot romantic while sophisticated.
Klay – fab brunch
4Bis Rue Saint-Sauveur, 75002 Paris, France
Klay is probably the most gay-friendly gym in Paris, but its restaurant and bar are always fun for anyone and everyone. With indoor palm trees and blossoming plants, dining at Klay feels like an oasis. The Asian-inspired menu includes various gluten-free, organic options complementing the fancy gym in the same building. Klay’s bar serves up fruity cocktails, making it a charming place to go after a glutted meal somewhere else in the neighborhood.
Le Grand Colbert – something’s gotta give
2 Rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France
If you’re in the mood for a traditional French brasserie experience, then Le Grand Colbert is a delicious choice. The restaurant oozes Belle-Epoque aura with mirror walls, large paintings and photos from the famous movie Something’s Gotta Give starring Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, and Jack Nicholson. Despite its tourist-charged diners, the food is phenomenal, featuring iconic French dishes: onion soup, escargots, foie gras, oysters, confit de canard, tartare de boeuf…just to name a few.
The Hoxton – swanky hotel bar
30-32 Rue du Sentier, 75002 Paris, France
The Hoxton is a dazzling boutique hotel making Instagram influencer very snap-happy. The original hotel opened in 2006 in London’s Shoreditch area, captivating English hipsters. The Paris location attracts the Fashion Week crowd and stylish Parisians looking to grab a glass of cold Chardonnay. The original staircase from the building’s 18th century resident Etienne Rivié (adviser to Louis XV) elegantly welcomes guests in a contemporary setting that leads to an outdoor courtyard. The indoor bar/restaurant is wide open and busily caters to international travelers.
Experimental Cocktail Club – outstanding mixology
37 Rue Saint-Sauveur, 75002 Paris, France
As one of the very first cocktail bars in Paris, ECC paved the way for the rise of mixologists inspired to open their own lounges in the city. The bar exudes a hidden speakeasy vibe, delivering premium bespoke recipes that draw a loyal and cultured following. The idea stands true to its name “experimental,” so you should try a cocktail that you’ve never had before. Since ECC changes its selection every six months, even regular customers can taste new concoctions periodically. Dimmed lights in addition to busy crowds make this classy hangout a cozy hotspot.
Harry’s New York Bar – old-school bar
5 Rue Daunou, 75002 Paris, France
In 1911, Tod Sloan – a former American jockey star – bought Harry’s New York Bar and turned it from an ancient bistro into a fashionable hangout. Since then, there have been many famous faces turning up at the bar, including: Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart, and even the Duke of Windsor. Harry’s New York Bar has also been mentioned in Ian Fleming’s James Bond short story, From a View to a Kill, as Bond remembers visiting Harry’s Bar when he was 16 years old. Today, you’ll see many American university flags draped over dark wood walls. Not so Parisian, but Harry’s Bar hits the right spot with locals.
Les Boudeuses – lady-like concept store
216 Rue Saint-Denis, 75002 Paris, France
A beautiful concept store, filled with feminine styles and souvenirs that’ll always bring you back to memories in Paris. Les Boudeuses is a lovely collection of smaller French brands producing vintage-chic fashion accessories, such as: Lilie & Koh and Chachawax. The store is meant to solve daily problems that any Parisian girl encounters: How does she keep up a daily work schedule on top of making beauty appointments? How can she find the time to eat well, take good care of herself while splurging on a little shopping spree? Les Boudeuses is 100% girly, 150% Parisienne.
Sézane – Parisian-chic fashion
1 Rue Saint-Fiacre, 75002 Paris, France
Sézane might be a fast rising brand which started out as online-only back in 2013 but quickly gained popularity with its Parisian-chic designs. The store in the 2nd arrondissement called: L’Appartement Sézane is set up to look like a French girl’s apartment. The quality might lack a bit, so careful on the wash. If that’s not a deal breaker for you, then pick up a few leather booties and embroidered blouses.
Rouje – Jeanne Damas
11 bis Rue Bachaumont, 75002 Paris, France
We simply can’t complete this list without the inclusion of Jeanne Damas – the ultimate French girl blogger turned founder of Rouje. Her collections mostly feature flower dresses, cropped denims and light blouses highlighted on Damas’ hugely popular Instagram profile. Although her pieces are sold mainly via e-commerce, Rouje has finally opened a physical store in the 2nd arrondissement. The boutique is also a cantine, just in case you get hungry while browsing and shopping! Leave it to Damas for redefining Parisian chic and femininity to a global audience.
Silencio Club – designed by David Lynch
142 Rue Montmartre, 75002 Paris, France
Club Silencio is where all forms of art melt intermittently. From movies, design, architecture to fashion. It’s a space where all forms of art cross paths. David Lynch, who created Silencio’s interior space, wanted the underground – a private members club – to be a place full of possibilities. He didn’t desire to push artists who come through the door, to any limits. He intended for them to enter and be creative, be inspired. There are often events in this multi-room venue, each is beautifully designed. For night owls and music lovers, Silencio makes a pretty awesome night out. This place gets poppin’!
Hôtel des Grands Boulevards – secret garden
17 Boulevard Poissonnière, 75002 Paris, France
Although Hôtel des Grands Boulevards only has five dapper rooms, it’s worth checking out to see if there’s any availability. The building dates back to the French Revolution in 1789, with an exquisite secret garden that connects the main street and the hotel’s quaint lobby. Each room is designed with various accents but full of French old-school glamour with dark wood furniture and hints of bronze. The restaurant and bar often greets chatty locals, preparing for a night out.