Discovering The Covered Passages In Paris

Covered Passages Galerie Vivienne Paris France
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Gotta love the French. Innovative and stylish. In the 18th and 19th century they were ingenious too, when “les passages couverts” (covered passages or galleries)  were constructed.  

Well before the invention of shopping malls, these  passages were built to protect pedestrians from inclement weather and muddy, dirty streets. But these weren’t just passageways with a roof. They were beautifully designed passages each with unique characteristics in the Belle Epoque style.

The passages were often designed with glass ceilings and were lined with chic boutiques, shops, restaurants and a few apartments. In this week’s post I’ll share with you some covered passages which are  all within walking distance of one another and are perfect to visit on a rainy day. 

 Galerie Vivienne (2nd arr)

Galerie Vivienne Paris France Covered Passages
Galerie Vivienne Paris France
Galerie Vivienne Paris France Covered Passages
Galerie Vivienne Paris France

Passage Vivienne is located near Palais Royale and is most people’s favourite due to the architecture. It is a very pretty place to spend time, walking on the mosaic floors, amongst the statues and shops. There is also the renowned Les Caves Legrand, one of Paris’ best wine shops.

Nearest Metro: Bourse

Passage des Panoramas (2nd arr)

Passage Panoramas Paris France Covered Passages
Passage Panoramas Paris France
Passage Panoramas Paris France Covered Passages
Passage Panoramas Paris France

This passage is near Les Grands Boulevards and is the oldest.  It has numerous entrances and corridors. I actually got lost (easy for me to do) finding my way out. It has a hip wine/lounge bar, “Coinstot Vino” and was the first public area in Paris to be lit by gas in 1817.

Nearest Metro: Grands Boulevards

Passage Jouffroy (9th arr)

Passage Jouffroy Paris France Covered Passages
Passage Jouffroy Paris France
Passage Jouffroy Paris France Covered Passages
Passage Jouffroy Paris France
Passage Jouffroy Paris France Covered Passages
Passage Jouffroy Paris France
Musee Grevin in the Passage Jouffroy Paris France Covered Passages
Musee Grevin in the Passage Jouffroy Paris France

Upon leaving Passages des Panoramas, across the street you will see Passage Jouffroy. In this passage there are many toy stores that I really enjoyed browsing through. The wax museum, Grevin is also located in this passage and years ago I went. It is like Madame Tussauds and a lot of fun to visit. Certainly there’s a French slant to the displays! This passage also has the Hotel Chopin which some say is inexpensive and has great views.

Nearest Metro: Richelieu-Drouot

Passage Verdeau (9th arr)

Passage Verdeau Paris France Covered Passages
Passage Verdeau Paris France

This passage is connected to Passage Jouffroy and Passage des Panoramas. There are restaurants and antique dealers and it is considered one of the quieter passages.

Nearest Metro: Richelieu-Drouot or Grands Boulevards

Demise Of The Covered Passages

At the end of the 18th century approximately 60 covered passages were built around Paris but with Baron Haussmann’s redesign of Paris with the Grands Boulevards and large department stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, the passages popularity declined. Today only about 15 remain (and are privately owned).

Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (Napoleon III) had hired Baron Haussmann to rebuild and renovate Paris.  At the time, Paris had overcrowded, filthy, and unsanitary streets and when there were riots it was too easy for the protesters to construct barricades because the streets were so narrow.  Paris was transformed and totally changed with wide boulevards, parks, fountains and a sewer system.

Other Covered Passages To Discover

Passage Colbert— the restaurant Le Grand Colbert is located here. It was featured in the movie, “Something’s Gotta Give” with Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves.

Passage du Grand Cerf-145 rue Saint-Denis

Passage Brady 43 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin in the 10th arrondissement

Passage du Choiseul-near Palais Royale

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26 Comments

  1. So much more fun and charming than a mall and I love the idea of peeking into the many interesting stores that line the passages. The mosaic and geometric designed tiled floors are gorgeous and I can picture myself strolling here on a rainy day. I tucked away this post into my Paris folder for inspiration – thanks Jan!

    1. So true. There is so much detail in the design and architecture and that’s what makes each of these places so special.

  2. I’ve seen just a few of these in Paris but I definitely like to explore more. The photos really are intriguing making me want to return to Paris soon and see each passage.

  3. What a really useful list – and who knew that there’s so much more to the passages than just places to shop/eat. They look beautiful, a photographer’s paradise, and so much more interesting than the average photo of the Seine, Eiffel Tower, etc.

    1. So true about being a photographer’s paradise. I loved taking pictures especially at the Galerie Vivienne.

  4. These covered passageways are beautiful. I’ll look for them if I get to Paris again. I hope you at least found the wine/lounge bar when you got lost in the passageway near Les Grands Boulevards.

  5. This is great to have a directory of the passageways in Paris! I’ve only enjoyed them by stumbling on them unexpectedly, and then I’m usually rushed, on my way to somewhere else. Next time in Paris, I’ll look for these – as a destination!

    1. I used to do the same thing. I made a concerted effort to seek out these places and spend some “quality time” there.

  6. These passages have brought back lovely memories to me. Walking through them are perfect ways to while away the time. Of course there’s no such thing as boredom in Paris!

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