The second and third arrondissements of Paris are not exactly hotbeds of tourism or culture, though they do have a few interesting areas worth noting. The 2nd arrondissement, along with the 8th and 9th, is home to businesses and financial institutions, including the former Bourse de Paris, the Paris stock exchange. The 2nd is also riddled with narrow covered passageways, known as “Panoramas” which were en vogue after the huge success of the Palais Royal and the Galeries des Bois (see Paris: 1er arrondissement for more on that). One such passageway is the Passage Vivienne. Emilie and I visited this panorama during a walk from Leonard Pitt’s book, Walks Through Lost Paris. The Galerie Vivienne dates back to 1826 and was widely popular until later that century when Haussmann’s aesthetic promoted open space, light, and air, rendering all covered passageways out of fashion and unhealthy. What was once a hub for the social elite to see and be seen became a deserted and quiet all but forgotten remnant of Paris pre-Haussmann. Flash-forward to 2012, and the Passage Vivienne Emilie and I found was a serene escape from the noisy and congested intersection of Rue des Petits Champs, Rue des Petits Pères, and Rue la Feuillade.
Following Rue des Petits Champs away from the Palais Royal, the 2nd arrondissement melts into the 3rd, and together these are the two smallest districts in Paris. The 3rd arrondissement is mostly made up of the quiet northern section of Le Marais, an ancient Dutch quarter, and an emerging Chinatown. This is also the region where The Temple once stood, a medieval fortress built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century. It was in this fortress where the French royal family was imprisoned during the Revolution, and for that reason it later became a site of pilgrimage for royalists. To snuff out the threat of a resurgence of royalist sympathizers, Napoleon had it destroyed in 1808. Any remnants of the Temple were completely demolished by Napoleon III around 1860. Today, the only indication that this ancient fortress once existed is the Temple metro station.
As a side-note, it bears mentioning that the above pictures are from an incredibly hot October day in Paris. The three of us were completely blind-sided by the sunshine and high temperatures as we walked from the Jardin du Luxembourg all the way to Canal St Martin. If I had known how rainy the rest of our trip would be I would have reveled in the warmth of the sun and blue skies!
The 2nd and 3rd arrondissements are areas I hadn’t previously spent much time in, so I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to explore them a bit more!