The Grands Boulevards is probably one of the most crowded and busiest streets in Paris. At every corner you will find bars, shops, theaters, cinema… It is a hotspot for Parisian nights and place to have a drink (or two) with your friends and to relax after work or to see the latest musicals in theater. But this is also the place where you can find and explore the hidden corners of Paris. You just have to know where to look. Come with us on an adventure and discover the Parisian covered passages. Paris is full of surprises!
You have to admit, you didn’t expect this at all. Just one step from the busy street, you find yourself in Paris at the beginning of the 19th Century. In the City of light is surprisingly easy to find a beautiful belle époque arcade, an art nouveau gallery or an inspiring ancient courtyard. At the beginning of the 19th century, a labyrinth of hidden passages, an early form of shopping mall, was created across Paris. Built like oriental souks, they allowed people to do shopping sheltered from the rain, in a place gathering different types of stores, coffee shops and restaurants. Most of them were demolished, as a result of Haussmann’s renovation of Paris, but some of them are still there and waiting for you to discover them.
The covered passages in Paris are all pedestrians and have beautiful stained glass ceilings. They are decorated with mosaics and during the sunny days are bathed in natural light. These modern day shopping malls, allow you to take a shortcut shelter from the rain, to shop an old book, stamps, postcards and coins or even some very expensive clothing. You can grab a delicious lunch or just have a cup of coffee with your friends in the nice and quiet atmosphere. The covered passages are the places where you can also just stroll around to see and to be seen.
We recommend you to visit all of them. Every passage is unique. Let us mention just some of them. The Passage du Grand Cerf was restored a few years ago and it is probably the most beautiful passage. It is off the usual tourist track and rarely crowded. The Passage Jouffroy gives you a feeling for how the passages were in 19th century and also you will find there Grévin, a wax museum, Paris's version of Madame Tussauds museum. The Galerie Vivienne is the most elegant covered passage where you can find many luxury boutiques from Jean-Paul Gaultier to Natalie Garcon. The Passage des Panoramas, the oldest surviving passage built in 1799, is known for its philately shops. And last but not least, the most exotic one - the Passage Brady also known as “Little India” is absolutely worth visiting.
If you decide to explore the hidden corners of Paris, you can visit the covered passages whenever you like. There are open every day all year round and the entrance is free.
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