Last weekend we had the opportunity to stay in an apartment that was loaned to us by Habitat Parisien. It is located near the Bourse in the 2nd arrondissement, an area that doesn’t seem to be on too many travelers’ radar. This gave us the occasion to explore a neighborhood with which we had previously only been scarcely acquainted.
We arrived at the rue Vivienne apartment at 5:00 p.m. and checked in. At 7:30 p.m., we headed to a bistrot called Restaurant Clémentine that is located only one block away on rue Saint-Marc. (Read our review at the following link: Paris Insights – The Restaurant Review.) In its old-fashioned setting (the restaurant was founded in 1906) we had a fine, modern meal. The food wasn’t the heavy cuisine that is often associated with bistrots. If the evening we spent there had been the only thing we did that weekend, it would have been worth it!
After dinner, we wandered around the neighborhood and spotted a lively café called Le Bouillon on the corner of rue Saint-Marc and rue Vivienne. A lot of customers were sitting on the terrace drinking cocktails and I noticed that Irish coffee was on the happy-hour beverage menu. We decided to return there in the morning for breakfast. On our way back to the apartment we passed by Lefty, a burger restaurant that bills itself as an “American bistro.” The bartenders were cordial as they handed us a business card, but we didn’t return to try their fare.
In the morning, we returned to Le Bouillon for a fixed-price breakfast consisting of a demi-baguette split in half, butter, jam, a glass of orange juice, a hot beverage, and a bowl of scrambled “eggs” with “cheese.” The eggs were not moist and soft as we had anticipated, but were rather dry and grainy. They appeared to have been reconstituted from a powder because they did not have true egg flavor or texture. The cheese (which I could barely taste) in the eggs must have contained a lot of salt, because we were quite thirsty for the rest of the day. The orange juice tasted as if it had been made from concentrate and the hot chocolate that Monique ordered was thin and flavorless. My café crème was adequate, but I was surprised that I couldn’t find it listed as one of the beverage choices for the fixed-price breakfast. It was served as a courtesy, in place of the double espresso that was listed there. Why the management didn’t offer the choice of a café crème on this menu was beyond my comprehension.
Happily, our disappointing meal at Le Bouillon was easily forgotten the following day when we had breakfast at Le Pain de la Bourse, a restaurant only a block away. For details about the breakfast, read my review in Paris Insights – The Restaurant Review.
On Saturday, we strolled through the neighborhood and spotted a number of noteworthy sights.
First, there is the Bourse, the former stock exchange designed by Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart and constructed from 1808 to 1826. Two wings were added in 1902 and 1907. No longer the home of the stock exchange, the building is now called Palais Brongniart and is used as a conference and event center.
Nearby we came upon a columned street called, appropriately enough, “rue des Colonnes.” In close proximity stands a sign that indicates that the street is one of the rare examples of construction that took place during the Revolution.
The area is famous for its covered passages built in the 19th century. We came upon the Passage des Panoramas, and across boulevard Montmartre, spotted the entrance to Passage Jouffroy. Next door to this latter passage stands the famous wax museum, Musée Grevin, opened in 1882.
Walking west along rue du 4 Septembre, we came upon the opulent Opéra Garnier, built from 1861 to 1875.
Looking south into the 1st arrondissement we could see Place Vendôme with its majestic Vendôme Column, surmounted by a statue of Napoleon I.
From avenue de l’Opéra, we caught a bus back to our apartment in the 5th arrondissement, ending our weekend adventure in the historic 2nd.
If there is one thing that we learned from our stay in the apartment on rue Vivienne, it is that there is a lot to explore in the area around the Bourse!
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