paris apartments furnished and vacation rentals for holidays in paris

Les Passages couverts de Paris

passage vivienne
Passage Vivienne

    Designed by town planners in the nineteenth  century to give pedestrians protection from mud and horse-drawn vehicles, the passages (shopping arcades), between the Grands Boulevards and the Louvre, are enjoying a new lease of life as havens from today's far busier traffic. For decades they were left to crumble and decay, but many have now been renovated, their tiled floors and glass roofs restored. Their entrances, however, remain easy to miss, and where you emerge at the other end can be quite a surprise, many are closed at night and  on Sundays.

Galerie Véro-Dodat
    Between rue Croix-des-Petits-Champs and rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Galerie Véro-Dodat is the most homogeneous and aristocratic od the passages, with painted ceiling a nd panelled shop fronts divided by black marble columns. It's named after the two pork butchers who set it up in 1824. Although the galerie is a little dilapidated, with peeling paint on many of the shop fronts, fashionable new shops have begun to open up in place of the older business. Retaining the old style at n° 26, monsieur Capia still keeps a collection of antique dolls in a ship piled high with miscellaneous curios.

Galerie Colbert and Vivienne (Photographies)
    The beautifully Galerie Colbert, one of two very upmarket passages linking rue Vivienne with rue des Petits-Champs, contains an expensive 1830s-style brasserie, le Grand Colbert, to which senior librarians and rich academics from the nearby Richelieu site of the Bibliothèque Nationale retire for lunch. The flamboyant decor of Grecian and marine motifs in the larger Galerie Vivienne, establishes the perfect ambiance in which to buy Jean-Paul Gaultier gear, or you can browse in the antiquarian bookshop, Librairie Jousseaume, which dates back to the passages's earliest days.

Passage Choiseul
Three blocks west of the Bibliothèque Nationale is a totally different style of passage. Just like a regular high street, the passage Choiseul, between rue des Petits-Champs and rue St-Augustin, has takeaway food, cheap clothes shop, stationers and bars, plus a few arty outlets along its two-hundred-metre tiled length. It was here that the author Louis-Ferdinand Céline lived as a boy, a period and location vividly recounted in his novel Death on Credit.

Passage des Panoramas
    For a combination of old-fashioned chic and workaday you need to explore the passage des Panoramas, the grid of arcades north of the Bibliothèque Nationale, beyond rue St-Marc, though they're still in need of a little repair and don't have the fancy mosaics of the other arcades. Most of the eateries here make no pretence at style, but one old brasserie, l'Arbre à Cannelle, has fantastic carved wood panelling, and there are still bric-a-brac shops, stamp dealers and an upper-crust print shop with its original 1867 fittings. It was around the Panoramas, in 1817, that's the first parisian gas lamps were tried out.

Passage Jouffroy and Verdeau
    In passage Jouffroy, across boulevard Montmartre, a M. Segas sells walking canes and theatrical antiques opposite a shop displaying every conceivable fitting and furnishing for doll's houses. Near the romantic Hotel Chopin, Paul Vulin sets out his secondhand books along the passageway, and Ciné-Doc caters to cinephiles. Crossing rue de la Grange-Batelière, you enter passage Verdeau, where a few of the old postcard and camera dealers still trade alongside new art galleries and a designer italian delicatessen.

Passage des Princes
    At the top of rue de Richelieu, the tiny Passage des Princes, with its beautiful glass ceiling, stained-glass decoration, and twirly lamps, has finally been restored, but unfortunately lies empty - high rents have chased out the shops that were here. Its  ertswhile neighbour, the passage de l'Opéra, described in surreal detail by Louis Aragon in Paris peasant, was eaten up with  the completion of Haussmann's boulevards - a project that demolished scores of old passages.

Passage du Grand-Cerf
    Back in the 2e arrondissement, close to M° Etienne-Marcel, the three storey passage du Grand-Cerf, between rue St-Denis and rue Dessoubs, is stylistically the best of all passages. The wrought-iron work, glass roof and plain-wood shop front have all been cleaned, attracting stylish arts, crafts and antiques shops.

event of the month in ParisInternet cable unlimited high speed connection mapMap of the Metro- Parisian SubwayWeather and Temperature in Paris10 excellent reasons to discover le Marais in your lifeguide of saint-germain des presGetting to paris from the aiport roissy charles de gaulle