Paris passages galeries are a hidden aspect of Paris. These beautiful covered passages provide an escape from the elements and a glimpse into a different aspect of Paris shopping. To compare the covered Passages and Galeries to an American mall would be a grave injustice. The atmosphere in the passages is an intimate escape from the noise of the busy city.
Step back in time with me to the 18th century as we explore some of Paris Passages Galeries. There were 150 of these covered passages at one time; now fewer than 30 remain and some of these are inaccessible to the public. (On the map the inaccessible Passages are marked with a red icon.) Some of these Passages are classified as historic monuments.
I think it interesting to note that the Passages that extend from Palais Royal to the Boulevards Montmartre and Italiens all run north-south while those Passages in the more commercial area of St Denis run east-west. As you can see from the map, the Passages are concentrated on the right side of the Seine.
Each Passage is filled with shops, cafés and restaurants, bearing its own ambience and history. For each, I will list a random sampling of the types of boutiques to be found within. We will begin just north of the
Passage des Panoramas – the center of social life for this area, you will find the famous engraver Stern, antique postcards, stamp collectors, a tea shop and more. Enter the passage on rue Saint-Marc and exit on Boulevard Montmartre facing Passage Jouffroy.
Passage Jouffroy – here you will find a bookstore specializing in all things pertaining to the cinema as well as Hotel Chopin at one end of the passage.
Passage Verdeau – the smallest of this group of passages, its barreled glass canopy is almost identical to that of Passage Jouffroy.
Passage des Princes- is Florentine in style and its stores are oriented to children, clothing, furnishings, toys, etc.
Passage Brady – the odors and colors that assail you will make you feel as though you are approaching Africa or India.
Passage du Bourg-l'Abbé- has beautiful arched glass ceilings with pastel painted scenery on the wood surfaces but there are areas that have seriously atrophied.
Passage du Grand-Cerf – at almost 36 feet high, this is the highest of the Paris passages. There are wonderful shops for finding tableware, pottery, and ceramics as well as art galleries. Most fascinating are the walkways above that lead to apartments with terraces and small gardens.
Passage du Ponceau – ready to wear clothing
Passage du Caire (Cairo) – like its name, the architectural style here is Egyptian. It has 3 corriders and 6 entrances and is one of the longest Paris passages galeries.
Passage du Prado – Art Deco in style, this is a very old passage but was only recently covered (in the early 20th century).
What follows are Passages that are scattered about and are most easily located by the nearest Metro.
Passage Puteaux – a fairly short passage with nice restaurants and charming décor. Metro Stop Rome
Passage du Havre- once closed to the public it is now a shopping mecca. If you want an abundance of name brand shops you would see in the US (Levi, Fossil, Gap, Claire’s) plus others then this should be your destination. To me, it lacks the charm of the other passages. Metro Stop Haussmann Saint Lazare
Gallerie de la Madeleine – look up as you enter here and observe the keystone in the arch. There you will see the name of the architect and the year constructed. Inside is an air of opulence and quiet - vastly different from Place de la Madeleine from which you just exited. Metro Stop Madeline
Passage Vendôme – has Gothic vaults that I think are fascinating but in general this Passage has fallen into disrepair. Metro Stop Republique
Paris Passages Galeries which are no longer open to the public:
Passage Benn Aïad (originally Passage du Saumon) – Metro Stop Sentier
I would be remiss if I did not point out that Paris' oldest passage, according to Thomas Carlson-Reddig’s An Architect's Paris, lies not with the elegantly designed passages of the right bank but in the Latin Quarter on the left bank. Cour du Commerce Saint André is both covered and uncovered and you will truly feel as though you have stepped back in time as you pick your way over the rough cobblestone path. Here you will find many restaurants and bistros, including the Procope, as well as other wonderful little shops. Enter this pre-Haussmanian architecture era via Boulevard Saint Germain between the Odeon metro stop and rue Mazarine or watch the video for a walk through this wonderful passage.