So, you’re vacationing in Paris, but the weather is not cooperating? Why not take the opportunity to take a stroll in the capital’s galleries and arcades? It’s an excellent way to discover an out-of-the-ordinary Paris, and keep your feet dry at the same time!
To start with, a bit of history…
Most of these galleries and arcades (or passages in French) appeared on the scene during the first half of the 19th century, mainly in the Grands Boulevards quarter. In those days, they served as shortcuts and shopping arcades, and they enabled the masses to go from one boulevard to another, protected from bad weather. There were over a hundred galleries in 1850, but a good many of them disappeared when Baron Haussmann transformed Paris in the 19th century, and with the expansion of the Grands Magasins (department stores). Only some twenty covered arcades still exist and are accessible to the public.
Today, these pedestrian alleyways are home to many boutiques, shops, cafes and restaurants.
Here is a little overview of the most beautiful galleries in Paris.
Passage du Grand Cerf
Built in 1825, this arcade is located in the Bonne Nouvelle quarter. At a height of 11.8 meters, it is the tallest arcade in Paris, but surely one of the most charming ones as well. Don’t hesitate to come and stroll under its glass roof and explore the many stores housed inside selling toys, decorative goods, and jewelry. If you feel like stopping for lunch, head to Le pas sage, a bistro that serves French specialties.
Passage du Grand Cerf – 145, rue Saint-Denis 7500, Paris.
Passage du Bourg-L’abbé
If you decide to go for a stroll in the Etienne Marcel quarter, be sure to visit the Passage du Bourg-L’abbé. You will be greeted by 2 large statues at the entrance, representing Trade and Industry. After wandering around the stores (especially Goodies Record, a famous record store) and the art galleries, you could stop off at Les Cariatides, a bar with a retro ambiance, to have a drink or listen to a bit of music.
Passage du Bourg-L’abbé – 3 rue de Palestro, 75002 Paris
Created in 1826, this gallery has a neoclassical architectural style that feels like it came straight out of a Balzac novel. Just a stone’s throw from the Louvre, this gallery is currently home to many prestigious boutiques, like the studio of shoe designer Christian Louboutin, the colorful laboratory of make-up artist Terry, or the lovely boutique of Robert Capia, specialist in antique dolls.
Galerie Véro-Dodat – 19, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 75001 Paris.
For your next visit, we have selected apartments located in the Les Halles quarter, near the Passages duGrand-Cerf and Bourg-L’abbé and the Galerie Véro-Dodat.
This article is the first of a series of two articles. The second article will deal with Passages des Panoramas, Jouffroy and Verdeau and Galeries Vivienne.