Passages of Paris: Galerie Vivienne, Passage des Panoramas and beyond

The passages couverts or covered passages of Paris make for a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Step back in time and discover the quintessential Parisian flair of these elegant covered galleries and lively arcades. They’re the perfect off-the-beaten-track sights to add to your travel itinerary for Paris.

The passages of Paris house art galleries, elegant boutiques, enchanting bookstores, cafés, bistros and even the occasional museum or theatre. No better rainy day activity in the French capital. But even one a sunny day, you’ll find that the Parisian passages are the perfect place to break away from the crowds.

Let us take you on a tour of the most charming covered passages of Paris.

Passage des Panoramas, Galerie Vivienne and Passage Verdeau are just some of the covered passages of Paris
Passage des Panoramas is one of the Paris covered passages

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About the covered passages of Paris

Covered galleries lined with stalls are nothing new. In the Middle East, souks and bazaars that used to dot the trade routes had been transformed to covered marketplaces long before a similar shopping experience appeared in Europe.

The history of the covered passages of Paris traces back to 1786 when Louis Philippe II, one of the Dukes of Orléans, commissioned architect Victor Louis to frame the garden with stone galleries. Three of those galleries were finished according to plan. However, because of budgetary problems, the fourth gallery ended up being built in wood. The Galeries de Bois separated the public garden from the courtyard of Palais-Royal.

In 1792, this gallery was expanded with the glass-covered Galerie Vitrée. These passages, lined with shops, became the prototype after which all future Paris passages would be modeled.

The opening of this first Parisian passage happened to coincide with the feudal system being abolished in 1789 leading to a rush on real estate. New property owners were eager to develop similar shortcuts. These passages were elegant ways to facilitate access to important sites such as Opéra Garnier, the Bourse, the theatres and boulevards. By the early 19th century, the French capital was home to no less than about 150 of these covered passageways.

The social and commercial aspect of the Paris passages was just as important as their practical purpose. The glamour of the gas-lit and heated arcades provided a welcome change from the dark, dirty and smelly streets. Soon, these sheltered walkways became social hubs thriving with luxury boutiques, art galleries, book stores, restaurants, cafés, theatres and hotels. All this sheltered from the weather in a cozy and sophisticated setting. The Parisian covered passages were the places to see and be seen for the bourgeoisie.

From an architectural point of view, the covered passages of Paris were the crème de la crème. Their eclectic style features neo-classical, renaissance and art-deco elements. And the ones that remain today seem to be frozen in time with stucco holdings, tromp l’œil, ornate clocks and marble or mosaic floors still intact.

But during the transformation of Paris under Baron Haussmann, les passages Parisiens lost their appeal. They couldn’t compete against the new iconic department stores such as Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, La Samaritaine and Le Bon Marché. One passage after the other closed its doors and today, only about 20 remain.

The covered passages of Paris truly are an important architectural heritage of the 19th century. So much so, that a few years ago, the City of Paris has ordered a study to eventually list some of the Parisian passages as UNESCO World Heritage.

Where to find the Parisian covered passages

Les passages de Paris are exclusively found on the right bank of the Seine and especially in the 2nd and 9th arrondissements. These were the wealthiest areas of Paris at the time, where the banks, stock exchange and theatres were located.

We’ve created a Paris covered passages map indicating the most popular arcades in Paris.

And here’s an overview of both the secret and not so secret covered passages of Paris by arrondissement.

Covered passages in Paris’ 1st arrondissement

  • Galerie Véro-Dodat
  • Passage des Deux Pavillons
  • Galeries du Palais-Royal

Covered passages in Paris’ 2nd arrondissement

  • Galerie Vivienne
  • Galerie Colbert
  • Passage du Grand-Cerf
  • Passage des Panoramas
  • Passage Choiseul
  • Passage des Princes

Covered passages in Paris’ 8th arrondissement

  • Galerie de la Madeleine
  • Passage Puteaux

Covered passages in Paris’ 9th arrondissement

  • Passage du Havre
  • Passage Jouffroy
  • Passage Verdeau

Covered passages in Paris’ 10th arrondissement

  • Passage Brady
  • Passage du Prado

10x Most beautiful covered passages of Paris

Let’s have a closer look at the most enchanting passageways in the French capital. You’ll discover that each Parisian covered passage has its own unique flair and character.

For your convenience, we’ve added the corresponding arrondissement as well as the addresses (both sides) and opening hours for each of the covered passages mentioned. You’ll notice that some of the passages are open after dark. Try and visit one of these Paris passages at night to feel the magic after dark.

We’ve also included the best place to stay near every Paris passage.

Galerie Vivienne

Passage Vivienne Paris
Galerie Vivienne is one of the best passages in Paris

The most luxurious of all covered passages in Paris is Galerie Vivienne. It was designed and built in 1823 by architect François Jean Delannoy for Marchoux, President of the Chamber of Notaries, and inaugurated in 1826.

Galerie Vivienne is 176 metres (577 ft) long and its neo-classical Pompeian style interior consists of a colourful mosaic floor with various patterns, a beautiful glass roof, elegant arcades, half-moon windows, paintings and sculptures symbolizing wealth, trade and success. There’s also a hemispherical glass dome covering the rotunda which is adorned with nymphs and goddesses.

Thanks to its prime location, between the social hub of Palais Royal, the stock exchange and the Grands Boulevards, Galerie Vivienne was an instant success. Parisians flocked to the elegant shops. Merchants included tailors, drapers, printers, engravers, cobblers, confectioners and more. Wine shops, bars and restaurants completed the elegant picture. There was also an emblematic bookstore, known as Librairie Petit-Siroux, that is still there today albeit under a different name. The enchanting Jousseaume bookstore is one of the oldest in Paris.

Galerie Vivienne, now owned by the Institut de France, still attracts the more luxurious retailers with decoration and fashion boutiques, art galleries, a bistro and a renowned wine-tasting room and restaurant lining the sophisticated covered shopping gallery.

Where to find Galerie Vivienne in Paris: 4 rue des Petits-Champs, 5 rue de la Banque & 6 rue Vivienne in the 2nd arrondissement.

Closest metro station: Palais Royal – Bourse.

Opening times: Every day from 8.30 am. to 8.30 pm.

Galerie Colbert

Galerie Colbert is one of the most secret passages of Paris

Inspired by the success of Galerie Vivienne, the company Adam et Compagnie purchased the neighbouring mansion. Hôtel Colbert, once the home of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Comptroller-General of Finances and one of the most trusted advisors of Louis XIV in Versailles, was transformed in 1826 to Galerie Colbert.

Architect Jacques Billaud designed the yellow column lined gallery with its red and white marble floors and elegant lamp posts. The pièce de resistance was a vast rotunda lit by a sumptuous glass dome. At the centre of the rotunda was the “Cocotier Lumineux” or “Luminous Coconut Tree”, a spectacular bronze candelabra crowned with seven crystal globes lit with gas.

Soon after the opening of Galerie Colbert in 1827, this became a popular place for a romantic rendez-vous. Unfortunately, in 1822, this eye-catcher was replaced by the “Eurydice Mourant” statue by Charles-François Lebœuf. The bronze version is a replica of the original marble statue that is on display in the Louvre.

Cobblers, umbrella makers, gunsmiths and bookshops used to sell their goods in Galerie Colbert. What was once a popular and lively covered passage, is now a tranquil spot that houses the Institut Nationale d’Histoire de l’Art as well as the restaurant Le Grand Colbert.

Where to find Galerie Colbert in Paris: 7 rue des Petits-Champs & 4 rue Vivienne in the 2nd arrondissement.

Closest metro station: Palais Royal – Bourse.

Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm. Closed on Sunday. (Although, we’ve seen it closed on other days as well.)

Passage du Grand Cerf

Passage du Grand Cerf is one of the best arcades in Paris for shopping

A bit off the tourist trail, linking the rue Saint-Denis and the lively Montorgueil neighborhood, you’ll find the Passage du Grand Cerf. Little is known about its history, other than that it was constructed in 1825 on the site of the former Roulage du Grand Cerf, once the terminus for of the Royal Mail coaches. You can still see the cerf or stag’s head hanging near the entrance.

The Passage du Grand Cerf is believed to have opened its doors around 1834. Since it was located a more industrial area of Paris, it attracted craftsman rather than merchants of luxury goods and therefore welcomed a different clientele than the posh Parisian passages near the Palais-Royal.

It’s certainly one of the most enchanting covered passages in Paris. No less than 3 stories high, with its large glass canopy resting on a beautiful wrought iron structure, it’s also the brightest passageway in Paris. The Passage du Grand Cerf is 113 meters long. Nowadays, it houses a colourful mix of quaint shops selling design furniture, handmade jewelry, haberdashery and more.

Where to find Passage du Grand Cerf in Paris: 145 rue Saint-Denis & 10 rue Dussoubs in the 2nd arrondissement.

Closest metro station: Etienne Marcel.

Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 8.30 am to 8 pm. Closed on Sunday.

Passage des Panoramas

Passage des Panoramas Paris
Galerie des Variétés is part of the Passage Panoramas Paris

One of the oldest secret passages in Paris, is the Passage des Panoramas. It was built on the site of the Hôtel de Montmorency-Luxembourg by American shipowner James William Thayer in 1799. He wanted to link the two bowers he had built on the Boulevard Montmartre and in which he installed his panoramas, large circular works that offered an immersive experience.

Thanks to the excellent location, a shortcut between the Palais-Royal and the Grand Boulevards, and the growing popularity of panoramas in Paris, the Passage des Panoramas was an instant hit. It specifically attracted philatelists and engravers such as the iconic Stern brand, of which only the sign remains.

It was the first passageway to be heated and one of the first to have the light flood in through a glass ceiling.

Over the years, the enthusiasm for panoramas dampened and the rotundas in the bowers were demolished in 1831. A few years later, in 1834, architect Jean-Louis Grisart was in charge of a renovation of this beautiful Parisian passage. It was expanded to include offshoots such as the Galerie des Variétés that linked the 133 meter long Passage des Panoramas to the popular Théâtre des Variétés.

Passage des Panoramas managed to keep its authentic charm intact.  To this day, it’s the place to be for philatelists looking for old postcards and collector’s stamps. It’s also home to some exotic eateries. The renowned Michelin star restaurant Passage 53 that used to call Passage des Panoramas home, has recently closed its doors.

Just north of the Passage des Panoramas, on the opposite side of the boulevard Montmartre, you’ll find the next item in our list of passages of Paris.

Where to find Passage des Panoramas in Paris: 11 boulevard Montmartre, 10 rue Saint-Marc, 38 rue Vivienne & 151 rue Montmartre in the 2nd arrondissement.

Closest metro station: Richelieu Drouot.

Opening times: Every day from 6 am. to midnight.

Passage Jouffroy

Passage Joufrroy counts as one of the most idyllic arcades of Paris
Jouffroy is a passage de Paris in the 9th arrondissement

In 1845, Count Félix de Jouffroy-Gonsans commissioned architects François Destailleur and Romain de Bourges to build a modern passageway as a continuation of the Passage des Panoramas on the opposite site of the Boulevard Montmartre. Passage Jouffroy was inaugurated in 1847.

It was the first Parisian passage to be entirely designed in metal and glass. Wood was only used for some of the decorative elements. The change in architecture also resulted in a change in style. A more sober look was envisioned for the new generation of galleries. The floor, paved in a geometric pattern, was the first passage to have an under-floor heating system. An ornate clock overlooks this lively Parisian gallery.

Passage Jouffroy is 140 metres (460 ft) long, divided over two lengths with a kink in between. It was dedicated to entertainment with a puppet theatre, dance hall and, as of 1882, the popular Musée Grévin.

Nowadays, this Paris passage is home to a mix of toy stores, a cane seller, an art bookstore, a miniature store, an antique and paraphernalia shop and more. The historic Hôtel Chopin, located at the heart of Passage Jouffroy, has been in business since the inauguration of the gallery. It was named Chopin in a more recent history, in honor of the famous composer who was a regular visitor.

When you exit the Passage Jouffroy onto the rue de la Grange-Batelière, you’ll find the next in our list of passages of Paris just across the street.

Where to find Passage Jouffroy in Paris: 10-12 boulevard Montmartre & 9 rue de la Grange-Batelière in the 9th arrondissement.

Closest metro station: Richelieu Drouot.

Opening times: Every day from 7 am to 9.30 am.

Passage Verdeau

Passage Verdeau Paris
Two people window-shopping in the Verdeau Passage Paris

The last of this trio of contiguous passages in Paris, is the Passage Verdeau. It was named after to trader Jean-Baptiste-Ossian Verdeau, who was a business partner of Count Félix de Jouffroy-Gonsans. Passage Verdeau was designed by architect Jacques Deschamps in the same style as Passage Jouffroy and was also inaugurated in the same year. 

It’s 75 meters long and the floor is paved in a white and black striped pattern which gives it an even more elegant late neoclassical flair. Even though it looks just as enchanting, it attracted less visitors than the neighboring Passages des Boulevards.

That changed in 1980 when auction house Hôtel Drouot opened its doors down the street. With one of the most renowned auction houses in Paris around the corner, antique dealers and gallery owners started to settle in Passage Verdeau. It became so popular that it was sometimes referred to as Passage Drouot. To this day, collectors, art lovers and attracting bargain hunters from around the world find their way to Passage Verdeau to explore the art, stamps, old photographs and postcards that are on display. It also houses a restaurant and a bistro.

We last visited Passage Verdeau in August, a time of year when many shop owners close for the holidays. This gorgeous Parisian gallery was much less lively but, in our perception, more luminous and refined than Passage Jouffroy and Passage des Panoramas.

Where to find Passage Verdeau in Paris: 6 rue de la Grange-Batelière & 31 bis rue du Faubourg-Montmartre in the 9th arrondissement.

Closest metro station: Richelieu Drouot.

Opening times: Weekdays from 7.30 am to 9 pm and weekends from 7.30 am to 8.30 pm.

Passage Choiseul

Passage Choiseul Paris

Part of a real estate project by the Banque Mallet frères et Cie, the Passage Choiseul was inaugurated in 1827. The architect François Mazois, who had been in charge of the design, died before he could finish it. His colleague Antoine Tavernier finished the construction according to the original design.

With its length of 190 meters, this rather sober gallery with its monochrome tiled floor was one of the longest passages in Paris. It was a lively and popular place. Some famous names in literature, such as French novelist Céline, lived or worked in Passage Choiseul.

Composer Jacques Offenbach opened his Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens in 1855 right next to the gallery. And since the foyer of the theatre was rather small, the attending ladies in their voluminous crinolines were often spotted in Passage Choiseul.

Nowadays, Passage Choiseul houses a mix of art galleries, fashion stores, shoe outlets, jewelry shops as well as some eateries.

Where to find Passage Choiseul in Paris: 40 rue des Petits-Champs & 23 rue Saint-Augustin in the 2nd arrondissement.

Closest metro station: Quatre Septembre – Pyramides.

Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm. Closed on Sunday.

Galerie Véro-Dodat

Galerie Vero-Dodat is one of the best hidden covered passages Paris

This Parisian passage was the result of two butchers, Benoît Véro and François Dodat, joining forces in an attempt to match the success of the nearby Galerie Vivienne. And so, they spared no expense to give Galerie Véro-Dodat, which was inaugurated in 1826, the same luxury appeal.

It was the one of the first passages in Paris to be gas-lit. The marble black and white checkered floor to visually lengthened the rather short passageway. Other eye-catching features were the copper frames, painted columns, mirrors, wood paneling, moulded ceilings, shutters on the top-floor apartments, cherubs as well as references to Romand and Greek mythology. T

Also location-wise, they had it all figured out. Galerie Véro-Dodat was a shortcut between the elegant and popular Paris-Royal to the bustling marketplace of Les Halles. In addition, the rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau entrance was the terminus of the Messageries Laffitte et Gaillard mail coaches. 

Thanks to a thorough renovation in 1997, the Véro-Dodat gallery has regained its glamorous appeal. It now houses decoration and antique shops, art galleries and high-end fashion boutiques such a the shoe paradise of Christian Louboutin.

Where to find Galerie Véro-Dodat in Paris: 19 rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau & 2 rue du Bouloi in the 1st arrondissement.

Closest metro station: Louvre Rivoli – Palais Royal.

Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 7 am to 10 pm. Closed on Sunday.

Passage des Princes

Passage des Princes Paris

When entrepreneur and banker Jules Mirès acquired the former palace Grand hôtel des princes et de l’Europe as well as the adjoining building, he decided to create a pedestrian passage in between both his properties. Inaugurated in 1860, the Passage Mirès, as it was called at the time, was the last of passages in Paris. Because of that, this gallery never really managed to attract the same crowds as the other covered arcades in Paris.

The Passage des Princes that you see today is actually a replica of the one that was demolished in 1985 in favour of a real estate operation. Ten years later, it was restored in its former glory. Thanks to the respect for its original elements such as the tinted glass dome, lamp posts and checkerboard floor, the Passage des Princes really does feel quite authentic.

This 80-meter long Parisian passage is the place to be for families because it exclusively houses toys stores. 

Where to find Passage des Princes in Paris: 5 boulevard des Italiens & 97 rue de Richelieu in the 2nd arrondissement.

Closest metro station: Richelieu Drouot.

Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm. Closed on Sunday.

Galeries du Palais-Royal

Galerie d'Orleans in the Palais Royal
Galerie de Valois in Paris

After the commercial success of the Galeries de Bois and Galerie Vitrée, the Duke of Orléans also commercialized the three other galleries framing the Jardin du Palais-Royal. They were named after the three sons of Philippe III d’Orléans: the Galerie de Valois (east), the Galerie de Beaujolais (north) and the Galerie de Montpensier (west). In the golden years, no less than 145 boutiques, restaurants and cafés were housed in the popular Palais-Royal.

In 1829, a fire destroyed the original Galeries de Bois and Galerie Vitrée. Architect Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine replaced them with the splendid Galerie d’Orléans which was equipped with sumptuous glass canopy.

Decadence was on the rise during the golden years of the Palais-Royal with gambling dens and prostitution. In 1830, the newly crowned king Louis-Philippe intervened and put a stop to these dubious activities.

Nowadays, all that remains today of the Galerie d’Orléans is the double stone colonnade that separates the Buren columns and Sphérades fountains from the Garden. The other arcades have stood the test of time. The mosaic pavement still mentions the names of boutiques that have been located here, such as the 19th century Pontillon and Krétly jewelers. To this day, these three galleries house some of Paris’ most exclusive shops selling some of the finer things in life, from the most exclusive shoes and bags to precious antiques.

Where to find the Galeries du Palais-Royal in Paris: 2 place Colette & 8 rue Montpensier plus several passageways that allow access to the public garden of the Palais-Royal in the 1st arrondissement.

Closest metro station: Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre or Pyramides.

Opening times: All day, every day.

Paris covered passages walking tours

Facade of the Paris Passage Verdeau

Visiting the covered galleries of Paris on your own is perfectly doable. But if you’re looking for more background on some specific Paris passageways, then you could consider joining a guided tour. Here are some tours and experiences that fit the bill:

Where to stay near the covered passages of Paris

Now that you can’t wait to discover the passages and galleries for yourself, it’s time to plan your trip. Here are some amazing places to stay in the direct vicinity of the most popular Paris passages:

Luxury hotel: Maison Albar Hotels, Le Vendôme

Honestly, it was a tie between this one and the iconic InterContinental Paris Le Grand. But, at least until that last one has finished its renovations, we’d recommend the Maison Albar. This upscale boutique hotel features bright and elegant rooms, an enchanting terrace and an intimate wellness area. It’s the perfect place for a pleasant stay in Paris.

Mid-range hotel: Chouchou hotel

With a name like Chouchou, which translates as darling or sweetheart, it’s hard to resist this hotel. And when you see the charming facade, you’ll be totally in love. It’s the most enchanting facade in all of Paris, in our opinion. The interior is just as unique as the exterior, with a irresistible food market, a hip bar and even a live stage. This is where to stay in Paris if you’re looking for a creative hotel slash socializing hub in a creative and one-of-a-kind setting.

Family hotel: Lyric Hôtel Paris Opera

This stylish 4-star hotel is one of the best places to stay in Paris for families. Its elegant and contemporary design make it a pleasure to retreat to. Family rooms are ultra-spacious corner rooms (36 m2 or 388 ft2) equipped with either a queen and a sofa bed or one queen and two single sofa beds. All guests, including kids, have access to the beautiful indoor swimming pool.

Budget hotel: Maxim Folies

This stylish 3-star hotel is a charming place to spend the night. The decor is cozy and homely, with colorful touches and a warm . Maxime Folies also offers junior suites at a very affordable rate. This certainly makes for a budget-friendly option for families traveling with kids. In addition to the well-appointed rooms, there’s an intimate breakfast area with a mouth-watering selection of fresh foods, pastries and more. Visiting Paris on a budget never looked so good. If you’re looking for Paris hotels that aren’

1-bedroom apartment overlooking the rooftops: The Opera House

This gorgeous top-floor apartment must be one of the best places to stay in Paris near Palais Garnier. The views are sensational from every angle. The apartment itself is bright and spacious. It has 1 bedroom but there’s the possibility of adding 2 futons as well.

Covered passages beyond Paris

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert in Brussels

Paris may be the European city that was home to most covered passages but it wasn’t the only one. Some 320 covered arcades were dotting the European cities at the time. In 2019, a new initiative called Association Euro Arcades was launched to put Europe’s arcades, passages and galleries in the limelight.

Here’s an overview of 19th-century covered passages in other European cities:

  • Nantes (France): Passage Pommeraye, inaugurated in1843.
  • Bordeaux (France): Galerie Bordelaise, constructed in 1833.
  • Brussels (Belgium): Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert comprising the Galleries of the Queen, the King and the Prince, dating back to 1847. Fun fact: Since 2018, these galleries are an official twinning partner of Galerie Vivienne in Paris.
  • The Hague (The Netherlands): De Passage, dating back to 1885.
  • Vienna (Austria): Ferstel Passage, part of the Palais Ferstel and built in 1860.
  • Milan (Italy): Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, connecting the Piazza del Duomo to the Piazza della Scala and built between 1865 and 1877.
  • Turin (Italy): Galleria Subalpina, inaugurated in 1873, and Galleria Umberto 1, built on the grounds of a former hospital in 1890.
  • Valladolid (Spain): Pasaje Gutiérrez, constructed in 1885.

That’s it for this article on covered passages in Paris. We can’t wait to find out which one caught your eye! And of course, we truly hope you’ll be one or more of these passages and galleries to your Paris travel itinerary. The comment box is all yours!

Passage Choiseul is one of the secret passages of Paris
Passage Jouffroy and Passage Verdeau are among the most popular passages in Paris
Passage Verdeau is one of the Paris passages

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