I Love Touring Paris - The Second Arrondissement
The 2nd arrondissement is located on the right bank of the Seine River. It is Paris's smallest arrondissement, less than 0.4 square miles (slightly under a square kilometer). While its population falls short of twenty thousand, this district provides over sixty thousand jobs, the highest job density in the city. It is home to all of Paris’s remaining glazed commercial arcades; pedestrian passages open at both ends with a glass and iron roof. This Parisian invention, actually an adaptation of Oriental bazaars and souks, forms a miniature city free from the noise of horse-drawn carriages, speeding taxis, and inclement weather. Remember when these arcades were built mostly in the 1820s and 1830s sidewalks were a rare commodity. In these arcades window-shopping developed into yet another Parisian art form. They evolved (degenerated) into the suburban shopping center. Make sure to visit at least one arcade to get a taste of Paris in the good old days.
The Passage des Panoramas running off Boulevard Montmartre is of the earliest arcades, dating back to 1799. It was the first public area in Paris to enjoy gas lighting. On the other side of Boulevard Montmartre you’ll find the more upscale Passage Jouffroy, restored about twenty years ago, a lovely mall that includes two very special stores for young children.
The Opéra-Comique (Comic Opera) is a world-famous opera company located in the Place Boieldieu, near the Paris Stock Exchange. It was established in 1714 to promote French opera in competition with the prevailing Italian opera of the day. Despite its name, not all of its productions were comic opera, especially during the Nineteenth Century. The current building was built in 1898, making it the oldest standing opera house in Paris. Two previous buildings burnt in 1838 and 1887. Among its great composers were Berlioz and Bizet. The Opéra-Comique was the site of the first production of Bizet’s Carmen in 1875 initially considered quite a failure. It was also the premiere of Debussy only opera, Pelléas et Mélisande in 1902.
The Avenue de l'Opéra (also known as the Passage de l'Opéra, or as Le Rue Peletier or Le Peletier) is a street named after the Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique, known more commonly as the Paris Opéra, which burned down in 1873. In 1875 the theatre was replaced by the Palais Garnier, a theatre now known as the Paris Opéra.
Built on the site of the city's old ramparts, the Grands Boulevards extend in a long arc from the Église de la Madeleine (Church of the Madeleine) in the west to the Bastille in the east. They were once the hangout for Paris’s upper crust and jet setters (more precisely Boulevard strollers) and still form a distinctive, often lively part of the city. The actual street name changes from Boulevard Madeleine, to Boulevard des Capucines, to Boulevard des Italiens, to Boulevard Montmartre, to Boulevard Poissoniere, to Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle, and finally to Boulevard St. Denis from west to east. As you go from west to east the boulevards traditionally get poorer and perhaps more interesting. Of course with all the redevelopment the situation is constantly changing. Do you know of any other city where a given street, avenue, or boulevard has seven names?
Of course you don’t want to be in Paris without sampling fine French wine and food. In my article I Love French Wine and Food- A Red Beaujolais I reviewed such a wine and suggested a sample menu: Start with Andouillette (Pork Tripe Sausage). For your second course savor Poulet de Bresse (Bresse Chicken). And as dessert indulge yourself with Ile Flottante (Floating Island Meringue). Your Parisian sommelier (wine steward) will be happy to suggest appropriate wines to accompany each course.
Levi Reiss has authored alone or with a co-author ten computer and Internet books, but to tell the truth, he would really rather just drink fine French, German, or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He knows what dieting is, and is glad that for the time being he can eat and drink what he wants, in moderation. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel, wine, and food website www.travelitalytravel.com and his global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com.