- December 20, 2018
- All things Paris
- Rupert Comer
One of Paris’ most charming oddities, is its array of covered passages, which are small, decorated, indoor shopping galleries. In short, much older French versions of the modern American shopping mall. They became popular in the 19th century and are still an excellent way to spend a rainy day browsing through shops under the shelter of vintage glass and iron roofs. We’ve picked a few of our favourites (and slotted in some theatres of course) to help you plan the perfect day out when the weather is not on your side.
The longest covered passageway in Paris, Passage Choiseul was recently renovated in 2013 and features restaurants, clothing stores, jewellery shops and art galleries. One of its highlights is the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, a theatre that was originally founded by the famous German-French composer Jacques Offenbach in 1855. It is now a prime destination in Paris to see musicals and comedies, with a beautiful auditorium in the Italian style.
Copyright Hemis / Alamy
Noted for its Indian and Pakistani restaurants and épiceries, a walk through this passageway is a real sensory experience. Paris’ ‘little India’, it is the best place in the capital to try South Asian cuisine but also features food from La Réunion and Mauritius, a creole cuisine mixing French, African, Indian and Chinese flavours. Split in two by Boulevard de Strasbourg, one half of Passage Brady is open-air and the other is covered by a glass roof. Head to 43 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis to experience the wonderful flavours of Passage Brady.
Passage des Panoramas
Passage des Panoramas is the oldest of the covered passages in Paris today and sits between the Montmarte boulevard and Rue Saint-Marc. Built in 1800, it was one of the first places in Paris where you could participate in the newly emerging stamp collection trade! Nowadays, it keeps its beautiful old architecture and alongside the stamps you can find restaurants, artist studios and craftsmen. Just down the road on Boulevard Montmartre there is also the Théâtre des Variétés, which as the name suggest offers a wide variety of shows. From comedies to musicals and one-person shows, the Théâtre des Variétés is one of Paris’ most renowned venues.
Nestled between Rue de la Grande Batelière and Rue du Faubourg Montmartre in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, Passage Verdeau is a haven for art and antiques lovers. Here you can find shops selling old books and photographs, embroidered fabric and antique furniture. You can also stop for a tea or lunch break as you browse, in one of the passage’s restaurants or tea salons.
Passage du Grand-Cerf
Passage du Grand-Cerf is named after the wooden ‘cerf’ (stag’s head) that hangs on one of the storefronts. Other animals as well, such as a crab, elephant and dragonfly adorn the facades of different shops along the passageway! Within Passage du Grand-Cerf there are plenty of unique independent shops and boutiques, selling a range of products from handmade jewelry to furniture. Moreover, on the Rue Saint-Denis side of the passage you can grab a cocktail at the aptly-named “Pas Sage” (not wise, in French) a play on the word “passage”.
Copyright Bertrand Rieger
One of the capital’s most popular covered passageways, Passage Jouffroy was built in 1836 and impresses with its charming iron and glass architecture, ornate clock and retro tiling. A range of shops selling old trinkets, such as ‘Pain d’Épices’ (which specialises in traditional wooden and tin toys), can be found alongside patisseries and tea rooms. You can even stay overnight in the beautiful Hôtel Chopin. Why not start off your visit at Musee Grevin, Paris’ waxwork museum? After you tour the famous wax figures, the museum’s exit leads you straight into Passage Jouffroy.