The Passages of Paris – Known as the covered arcades, the covered passages in Paris were built near the end of the 1700s to allow the city’s wealthiest patrons to be out and about and able to shop regardless of the weather. Used as shortcuts or covered paths to get to a restaurant or salon, these passages today are a delight to encounter, maintaining the aura of the days in which they were built.
The highest of all the covered passages, Passage du Grand Cerf, has a high glass ceiling and beautifully tiled floor. Because of its age, it fell into disrepair for a number of years, but because it is a unique piece of the country’s history, it has since been restored to its former glory. Throughout the passage you’ll find charming boutiques that sell one-of-a-kind objects, such as vintage eyeglasses, handmade necklaces, and other small artistic wares. This passage is one to visit when you have a lot of spare time so that you can enjoy each store and have fun exploring.
The Galerie Vivienne is the most elaborate of all Parisian passages, the most exclusive, but also the one that receives the most visitors. It was built to be Paris’ most elegant gallery of shopping and is lavishly adorned – the floor is an Italian mosaic. The shops are stylish and the cafés chic with plant-lined façades. While this passage is a secret of sorts, ask any local and they’ll share the location. When you arrive, again you’ll want to take your time admiring the richly decorated wrought iron, glass, and wood of this masterpiece.
Finally, Paris’ longest covered passage is named Choiseul. The passage is three storeys for the length. Stores occupy the ground level and apartments the upper two floors, all of which is covered by a glass roof. You’ll find quaint shops, chic boutiques and jewelry shops, as well as book stores and places to eat.
The Parisian passages are the perfect place to wait out a dreary, rainy day, but also the best place to escape the incessant Parisian traffic. Each of these passages is hidden among the city’s small villages.