During the 19th century, several dozen covered passages were built in Paris. Intended for the Parisian bourgeoisie, they allowed people to walk around the capital without suffering from bad weather or the hustle and bustle of the streets. Today, there are still 21 covered passageways in Paris, mainly in the 2nd and 9th arrondissements. Let’s go and meet these amazing galleries.
The record book of Parisian covered passages
If you have the pleasure of strolling through the various Parisian galleries, you will notice the particular Parisian passages:
- The Panoramas passage is the oldest (1799);
- The Prado passage is the most recent (created in 1785, but covered in 1925);
- The Cairo passage is the longest (370 meters);
- The Alfred Stevens passage is the shortest (24.5 meters);
- The Grand Cerf passage is the highest (11.80 meters), and it also has the highest glass roof in Paris.
The Véro-Dodat Gallery
Connecting the rue du Bouloi to the rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in the 1st arrondissement, the Galerie Véro-Dodat was created in 1826 by two pork butchers, Véro and Dodat. Close to the Palais-Royal and the Louvre museum, this covered passage is not very long, but the black and white diamond-shaped paving offers a beautiful perspective. Much frequented at the time by Alfred de Musset, the gallery is now home to numerous boutiques and art galleries, as well as a brasserie, a restaurant, and the workshop-boutique of luxury shoe designer Christian Louboutin.2
The galleries of the Palais Royal
Located around the gardens of the Palais-Royal, in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, the galleries of the Palais Royal are accessible from Place Colette. Today, you can walk through the Beaujolais, Montpensier, Proues, Valois and Garden galleries, and you will also see, inside, the remains of other galleries, such as the colonnades of the Orleans gallery.
It is the Duke of Orleans who decided to create his galleries, with the aim of renting them to merchants, and thus provide for the important expenses of the royal court. The galleries were then quickly a place of passage and life of the Parisians, where the libertinage, the play and the pleasure were with the honor.
The Vivienne Gallery
Considered the most beautiful covered passage in Paris, the Galerie Vivienne is located in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, and is accessible from the rue des Petits-Champs, the rue de la Banque and the rue Vivienne.
Inaugurated in 1823, it has a beautiful glass roof and a mosaic with colorful patterns that make the charm of the place. You will find there many stores of ready-to-wear, old bookshops, tea rooms…
The Panoramas passage
The Passage des Panoramas is probably the most famous covered passage in Paris. It is also the oldest, since it was built in 1799, on the Grands Boulevards. You can reach it from the rue Montmartre, the rue Vivienne or the boulevard Montmartre.
This small Parisian artery, classified as a historical monument, has a magnificent glass roof and many period features reminiscent of the cachet of yesteryear. Collectors like to meet there to exchange their old postcards, old stamps and old books, while strollers like to discover the shop windows of all kinds of traders. Among the old timers of the passage, we still find the engraver Stern, as well as the Variety Theatre. As for the tea room “L’arbre à cannelle”, it preserves the old decor of the former chocolate maker Marquis.
The Choiseul passage
Connecting two rows of houses, the Choiseul passage is one of the longest in Paris, and is entirely covered by a stalled glass roof. Located in the Opéra district, this gallery was mainly marked by artistic life, and lovers of literature and theater liked to meet there. Ferdinand Céline lived there during his childhood, and Paul Verlaine’s first publisher had installed his bookshop there.
Today, after a complete renovation in 2013, the passage houses an unusual Siesta Bar. You can get there by taking the rue des Petits-Champs or the rue Saint-Augustin.
The Jouffroy passage
Accessible from the rue de la Grange Bâtelière or the boulevard Montmartre, the passage Jouffroy is located in the 9th district of Paris, and more precisely on the Grands Boulevards. In the continuation of the passage des Panoramas, this gallery seduces by its architecture of glass and iron, but also by its elegant marble paving.
There are all kinds of stores, brasseries, tea rooms, a hotel, and even a club. And if you visit the Grévin museum and its famous wax figures, the exit will be directly in the Jouffroy passage.
The Verdeau passage
Following the Passage des Panoramas and the Passage Jouffroy, the Passage Verdeau is one of the most beautiful covered passages in Paris. The large fishbone glass roof offers a beautiful luminosity, and highlights the unusual stores and antique dealers of the Parisian passage.
This gallery in the 3rd arrondissement is less frequented than the others, but collectors like to meet there, especially when the weather is fine and the light is sumptuous.
The Grand Cerf passage
Connecting the rue Saint-Denis to the rue Dussoubs, in Paris 2, the passage du Grand Cerf was created in 1825, in place of the former terminus of the stagecoaches of the Messageries royales, the house “roulage du Grand Cerf”.
Nearly 12 meters high, the metal architecture houses 3 floors, the last one being dedicated to housing. Initially intended for crafts and production, this passageway displays a rather simple neoclassical style.
The passage of Cairo
Accessible from the Place du Caire, the Rue du Caire, the Rue Saint-Denis or the Rue d’Alexandrie, this gallery was first named the Passage de la Foire du Caire, and paid tribute to Bonaparte’s love for Egypt.
Among the most beautiful covered passages of the capital, the Passage du Caire is also the longest and narrowest. In the Sentier district, almost all the stores it houses are ready-to-wear wholesalers.
The Brady Passage
The Passage Brady is one of the few covered passages in the 10th arrondissement. You can get there from the rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis or from the boulevard de Strasbourg, and if, at the beginning, you could find mostly thrift shops, resellers, and even baths, the 70s and 80s saw the passage transformed. Today, the Brady Passage is mainly occupied by Pakistani and Indian shops. Strolling through the covered passages of Paris is an opportunity to travel through time and the history of the capital. Take advantage of a stay at the Cadet residence to discover all the other passages, from the Galerie Colbert to the Passage des Princes, passing by the Galerie de la Madeleine.