Tucked away from the noisy boulevards and overcrowded museums lay Paris’s quiet yet unbelievably charming covered passages. Built in the 19th century, their stained-glass ceilings, mosaic floors, and iron latticework will whisk you right back to the Belle Époque. Here you can find delightful curio shops, classic boutiques, and cafés all sheltered from the weather yet bathed in natural light. Join us as we take you through Paris’ most beautiful covered passages.
This exquisite passage is just a step away from the Palais Royal. Built in 1823 by Marchoux – its creator attempted to name the passage after himself but to his disappointment lost out to the name, Vivienne. It was an extremely popular commercial spot until the the Haussmann renovations enticed most major shops away to Madeleine. Its revival came in the 1980s with the opening of the Jean-Paul Gaultier boutique. Today the extraordinary Galerie Vivienne gathers luxury boutiques, as well as peculiar art, book and fabric shops, an inviting tea room, and lovely bistros. The elegant canopy and colors offer a rare light into the passage, and the original mosaic floor and artistic detailing make it one of the most worthwhile visits in Paris.
This passage is a registered historical monument, which comes as no surprise considering its rich history. Built in 1825, this is where Louis-Ferdinand Celine, the celebrated 20th century French novelist credited with modernizing literature, spent his childhood. By the 1970s, the passage became quite trendy when Kenzo opened a boutique here (now located at Place des Victoires). Nowadays, Passage Choiseul is famous for its boutique restaurants, art galleries, book shops, an original bar à sieste (or ’sleeping bar’), and the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens.
This passage, with its arcades of neat glass, was built in 1825 on the site of the Hotel du Grand Cerf. It is, without any doubt, one of the most beautiful in the city. Its pleasing interior bursts with curious crafts, artisan shops, and high-quality fashion and jewelry, making it an ideal place to buy original gifts. It’s not easy to find, but the challenge is worth it. Hint: you can access it near rue Saint-Denis or Place Goldoni.
The oldest of the covered passages in Paris, Passage des Panoramas was built in 1799 and crosses through the second and ninth arrondissements. Originally housing a bazaar filled with souks hawking exotic oriental wares, today it is filled with characterful bars and restaurants including Noglu (one of Paris’ few gluten-free eateries). It is also popular for its philatelist boutiques, so if you are a stamp, postcard, or coin collector, you should consider visiting this lovely retro place.
This neoclassical-style galleria is situated in the beating heart of Paris, close to the Louvre and Palais Royal. Compared with other covered passages, Galerie Véro-Dodat is not that large, however a clever trompe l’œil was conceived to enlarge the space: to give the feeling of depth, the designers used a grid of diagonal black and white tiles on the marble floor. When you walk through the passage, don’t forget to look up at the ceiling, which is decorated with heavenly inscriptions and paintings. At normal eye-level, you will find the usual charming shops, art galleries, restaurants, and for fashionistas two flagship Christian Louboutin boutiques. You can also contemplate luxury footwear at the museum at the entrance of the passage.