The 2nd arrondissement of Paris is one of the financial centers of Europe, being home to the Bourse (Stock exchange) and thus the CAC 40 index you hear about in world financial news. Other major activities in the neighborhood are journalism and fashion.
The 2nd is also home to the galleries -- covered passages lined with shops -- which are quite possibly the prototypes of today's shopping malls.
While the aforementioned are all daylight activities the eastern end of the arrondissement has an entirely different reputation, having been home to Paris' red-light district since sometime in the early renaissance.
Being right in the middle of the city, the 2nd Arrondissement is well served by the Métro system. 5 lines provide direct access to the district via 10 different stations.
Lines 8 and 9 both run east-west right across the northern edge of the arrondissement with 4 stations, distanced every 200 to 400 meters. Take your pick, all of the stations are small, and unless you're making a connection just as good as another.
Line 3 runs east-west right through the center of the arrondissement, with 5 stations down rue du Quatre Septembre and rue Réaumur.
Line 4 runs north-south along the eastern edge.
Line 7 running north-south, has one stop (Opéra) near the western edge of the arrondissement.
As the 2nd is the smallest arrondissement, it is easy to travel many places within it on foot. It's possible to comfortably walk the entire perimeter of the district in around an hour. Much of the south-eastern corner is closed to traffic.
la Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Richelieu, 58 rue Richelieu (Métro: Bourse or Palais-Royal), ☎ +33 1 53 79 59 59, . Reading rooms: mon-fri 9am-6pm, sat 9am-5pm, exhibitions: tue-sat 10am-7pm. Especially try to visit the cabinet des Médailles.library: free, exhibitions €5-€10. edit
There have been dozens of attempts by various regimes at all levels including the city, the state and the church to chase the ladies of "love for a price" away from the eastern end of the second arrondissement, but for some reason they always come back. Interestingly, the word "bordello" originates here from the boards that the women used to subdivide the rooms they rented in houses along the rue Saint Denis and others.
The press has had nearly as long a run in the neighbourhood just to the west, and several of France's major newspapers still maintain offices here.
La Tour Jean-sans-Peur, 20 rue Étienne-Marcel (Métro: Étienne-Marcel). April-October wed-sun 1:30pm-6pm. One of the last remnants of medieval Paris outside of the 4th, this tower was once part of a castle called l'hôtel de Bourgogne€5, students: €3, guided tour: €8. edit
Théâtre national de l'Opéra-Comique (National Opéra Comic Theatre), 5, rue Favart, ☎ +33 (0)1 42 44 45 40, . The théâtre national de l'Opéra-Comique (National Opéra Comic Theatre) is an opera company and opera house.edit
Rue Montorgueil pedestrian area. Rue Montorgueil is like a scene from a movie. Closed to traffic, the street is a food-lovers delight, with cafes, bars and all types of fresh produce for sale in the open air.edit
Prototypical of indoor shopping malls the Galleries got their start in 1786 when the Duke of Orleans realized that there was money to be made by renting out his cloistered garden to small shops. With their glass roofs and tiled floors they were a welcome respite to the newly emerging middle class shopper of the early 19th century, in the days before electric light and sidewalks.
A walking tour of the galleries can easily be accomplished in an hour or so, and is worthwhile even though they are long past their glory days. Start with La Gallerie Vivienne which is the best preserved of the galleries and whose décor has been maintained in authentic colors from the era. It's really the mosaic floor which is the star of the show. The shops are distinctly upscale, and all about conspicuous consumption: a wine seller, a tea shop, and a dealer in antique books are among the highlights.
The Passage Choiseul is a considerably more down-to-earth gallery, the passage mainly serves traders on their way to the Bourse, with the same class of shops that one might find in a pedestrian tunnel in New York or Chicago: a shoeshine stand, a newsstand, and little almost-but-not-quite fast-food restaurants.
You can find more galleries throughout the arrondissement, including the Passage des Panoramas, the Passages des Princes, and the Passage du Grand-Cerf.
Exki, 9, Boulevard des Italiens (Métro: Opéra or Quatre-Septembre), ☎ +33 1 42 61 06 52 (email@example.com). High quality fast food with an emphasis on freshness and a slight bent for the exotic.A choice of soups and salads for around €4, plates for around €6. edit
Bourgainville, 5, rue de la Banque (Métro: Bourse), ☎ +33 1 42 60 05 19. Mon-Sat 7am-9pm, but food is only served at lunch from 11:30 to 3:30. This comfy little bar offers down-home cooking from the Auvergne region, and after-work drinks for the financial set.sandwiches: €3, plates €12-15. edit
Rani Mahal, 9 Rue Saint-Augustin, ☎ +33 1 42 97 53 24. This Indian restaurant is raved about by vegetarians, but serves meat as well.edit
Le Loup Blanc, 42 rue Tiquetonne (Métro: Etienne-Marcel), ☎ +33 1 40 13 08 35. 7pm-midnight nightly. The White Wolf is interesting not only for the fact that it's directly across the street from another restaurant called the Three Little Pigs, but also for the quality of the dishes in a style that the chef likes to call "world food". There is a vegetarian offering.dinner for around €25. edit
Le Tambour, 41, Rue Montmartre, . dinner until 3:30am !. The really distinguishing feature of the Tambour is its very late hours.edit
Café Etienne Marcel, 34, rue Etienne Marcel (Métro: Etienne Marcel), ☎ +33 1 45 08 01 03. A Costes brothers' creation but with lower prices than many of their other restaurants, the Etienne Marcel combines a creative menu with hip interior design and hip musical ambience. Vegetarians: The crispy risotto balls (risotto croustillant) are amazing, and pretty much impossible to make at home. 15-20 Euroedit
The Frog & Rosbif, 116 rue St. Denis, ☎ +33 1 42 36 34 73, . As you probably know the English use the word "frog" as an ethnic slur for the French. You may not know that the word "Rosbif" is the French ethnic slur for the English. Well, it seems that there are mostly no hard feelings over a pint, or so the presence of this chain of 6 English pubs in the French capital would tend to suggest.edit
Footsie, 10-12, Rue Daunou, ☎ +33 1 42 60 07 20. The drink prices fluctuate with supply and demand, just like at the nearby Bourse. Astute readers will note that the Footsie is an exchange index on the London stock exchange, which works because this is a more-or-less English style pub right down to the curry.edit
Harry's New York Bar, 5, Rue Daunou, ☎ +33 1 42 61 71 14, . Mon-Sun 10:30am-4am. Legend has it that Harry's New York Bar was the birthplace of the Bloody Mary invented by Fernand "Pete" Petiot, an American bartender, and was another Hemingway hangout.edit
Café Noir, 65, Rue Montmartre (Métro: Sentier or Bourse), ☎ +33 1 45 08 42 35. A particularly fine example of a Paris café.edit
La Cantine, 151 rue Montmartre (Passage des Panoramas, Métro: Grandes Boulevards), . lundi au vendredi de 09h à 18h. A technology focused café and co-working space.edit
Bed and Breakfast Hostel, 42 rue Poissonnière (Métro: Bonne-Nouvelle), ☎ +33 1 40 26 83 08, . checkin: Any time; checkout: 10am. It's basically a big apartment done up as a set of dorm rooms with girls on one side of the hall and boys on the other, but it's comfortable and the price is unbeatable. There is one tiny room for a couple. French, English, Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic spoken.Dorm beds for €18 or private rooms available for groups of 4 or more, the showers cost €2. edit
Hôtel des Boulevards, 10, rue de la Ville-Neuve, ☎ +33 1 42 36 02 29, . doubles with sink: €40, with a shower: €55. edit
Hôtel Sainte-Marie, 6, rue de la Ville-Neuve (Métro: Bonne-Nouvelle), ☎ +33 1 42 33 21 61, . doubles with a sink: €40-54, with a shower and toilet: €60-70. edit
Hôtel du Cléry, 13 boulevard Bonne Nouvelle (Métro: Bonne-Nouvelle, lines 8-9), ☎ +33 1 42 33 82 42, . Renovated rooms next to Métro Bonne Nouvelle.edit
Hôtel Bonne Nouvelle, 17 rue Beauregard (Métro: Bonne-Nouvelle), ☎ +33 1 45 08 42 42, . Old World charm.doubles €60-70. edit
Tiquetonne Hôtel, 6 rue Tiquetonne (Métro: Etinne-Marcel or Réaumur-Sébastopol), ☎ +33 1 42 36 94 58 (fax: +33 1 42 36 02 94). Closed during August, and between Christmas and New Year'sDoubles with a sink €40. edit
Park Hyatt Paris - Vendome, 5 Rue de la Paix (Métro: Opéra), ☎ +33 1 58 71 12 34 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 5 star palace style hotel with a residential feel and personalised service. Within walking distance of Place Vendôme.edit
Hôtel Victoires Opera, 56 rue de Montorgueil (Métro: Sentier), ☎ +33 1 42 36 41 08, . edit