Paris Passages – the Hidden Treasures of the French Capital
Paris passages – perfect for hiding from the heat in August or the cold wind in November, these very special places will surprise you pleasantly with their Parisian charm and calm atmosphere. As opposition to the super crowded popular tourist spots in Paris, the passages are not only still unpopular among the tourists but also difficult to find. Their entrances are nestled among shops and restaurants at the facades of never ending Parisian classical buildings.
Let me give you a few reasons why you should visit the passages during your trip to Paris:
1 – First of all to find the entrances of these covered passages is somewhat as a treasure hunt. Because of the difficult to find entrances when you finally enter, the artistic atmosphere of the place will amaze you because of the difference with the noisy Parisian boulevards outside.
2 – Although the logical similarities, each passage is different and has its specialty. One accommodates numerous antique bookshops; another is a center of shops for collectibles as post stamps.
3 – As everything in Paris, the passages also have an interesting story and the construction of some of them is dated back to 1800.
4 – The architectural and decorative elements of the passages are eye-catching and typically French. The styles vary between Belle Époque, Art nouveau and neoclassical. Magnificent mosaics accompanied by lace wrought iron and covered by beautiful glass roof make these hidden spots number one of my list of what-should-be-seen in Paris.
5 – Here you will be out of the touristic crowds and will feel almost as a local. Unfortunately, the castle of Versailles and the Louvre are now overcrowded and enjoyment of their visit is lost somewhere in the halls where you have to fight for breath, chastened by tourists speaking various languages.
A little bit of history:
At first, their construction started at the beginning of 19th century in order to create covered spaces for the commerce. The other reason was to use the empty space between buildings as Paris was expanding significantly in this period. In 1850 in Paris were working 150 passages from which now only 10 still exist and are opened to the public.
Paris Passages – Passage des Panoramas
This was the first passage that I’ve visited after the stroll around Montmartre with my friend Mimi. One of its entrances is from 11 Boulevard Montmartre. This passage is the center of the philately trade in Paris and you can find few shops specialized in this matter. For the noninterested in collecting post stamps, I recommend stopping for a short lunch in “L’Arbre à Canelle” (“Cinnamon tree”). The premises of this restaurant were previously used by the chocolate producer Francois Marquis for his firm “Maison Marquis” The decoration in the interior and exterior is kept close to the initial look from the middle of 19th century. The food is delicious and together with the service gives you good value for your money. The salads are refreshing and the desserts tempting.
The nearest underground station is Grands Boulevards.
Paris Passages – Passage Jouffroy
In this passage, you will see candy shops and pastries which will not let you impartial. The shop windows are filled with beautifully decorated boxes and tempting with its colors petit fours. Hotel Chopin’s entrance makes the atmosphere even brighter with a cozy lobby which is visible through the glass doors. The Grevin Museum (wax museum founded in 1882) also can be reached by the passage. Its entrance is decorated with various figures and contributes to the artistic identity of this Parisian passage.
The entrances are from the 10-12 Boulevard Montmartre and 9 rue de la Grange-Bateliere. The metro station near is Richelieu-Drouot.
Paris Passages – Galerie Vivienne
This Parisian passage is the third which I visited. It is the most stylishly luxurious of all and its decor can easily be used for a film from the Belle Époque. The flagmanship of the fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier is located in the gallery since 1986, and today there are several shops for clothing and decorative items for the home. Wolff & Descourtis offers designer fabrics and enchants the senses with colors, glitter and plenty of imagination. However, in my humble opinion, the most charming part of this passage is its richly decorated interior with magnificent arches, Greek statues, green cypress trees placed along the gallery and neat tables of the cafes and restaurants. A Priori Thé is situated at one of the exits and seems to be preferred by the local people for meetings on a cup of tea. If you want to experience French luxury Galerie Vivienne is your place.
The gallery has three entrances – 5 the rue de la Banque, 6 rue Vivienne and 4 rue de Petits-Champs. The nearest metro station is Bourse.
For the full map of the Paris passages, check this map.
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