During France’s Second Empire, there were about 150 covered passageways and galleries in Paris, home to luxury businesses, toy stores, theaters, bookshops or restaurants for passersby to explore. Today, only about thirty of these passageways remain, and the city has decided to shine the spotlight on this architectural tradition. Passageways can be found in several different arrondissements in the capital, but by concentrating on those near Palais Royal and Grands Boulevards, you’ll discover several of these Parisian gems over the course of one lovely stroll.
Start with the galerie Véro Dodat, which dates back to 1826. Black and white marble adorns its floors, and its mahogany and onyx décor portrays the theme of commerce, with depictions of cornucopias to signify bounty and plenty.
Continue through to the galeries du Palais Royal. The duke of Orléans expanded the palace and rented out the ground floor to businesses in order to make a bit of pocket monkey!
All around, you’ll find cute little passageways that aren’t commercial but that allow two streets to be linked. Continue to the Deux Pavillons passageway, which is shaped like a cross, and make a stop at Au Pain Quotidien for a snack.
Cross the street to reach the galerie Vivienne (1826), one of the most beautiful passageways in Paris, with its mosaic floors and its rich décor, displaying themes of abundance and wealth. Nearby, you’ll find its closest competitor, the galerie Colbert, its rotunda lit by a glass dome.
Continue your visit of Paris’s passageways with the passage Choiseul (1825), which is the best example of typical passageway of the area: two rows of houses overlooking one another, linked only by a detached glass canopy.
The passage des Princes (1860) is the last covered passageway that was built in Paris during the time of baron Haussmann. Today, you’ll find toy stores along it.
Don’t miss the passage des Panoramas, which is possibly the most animated of all of the passageways. It dates back to 1799, and it was met with success from the outset. Cafés and little restaurants coexist on it; you won’t be able to resist making a stop or two! The passage Jouffroy (1847) was the first passageway to be built entirely of iron and glass. Continuing onwards, the passage Verdeau boasts a neoclassical design and a beautiful canopy.
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