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Paris Passages: A Touch of Glass

Passages in Paris

I have a friend who made it a goal to go to the 100 best golf courses in the world. He spent several years tracking them all down and enjoying their delights. I always thought this was a fun approach to travel.

So,  I’ve decided I to create my own travel challenge to visit all 20 Passages in Paris. These are the ones that survived out of the over 100 built and frequently used during the 1800s. On my most recent visit to the City of Light, I knocked off three because they were right close together.

Unless you are a nut about Paris like I am, you may be asking what the heck is a Paris Passage?

Paris Passage
Paris Passage

They are hidden walkways through the historic buildings with shopping and dining opportunities. Typically the roofs are glass and iron. You want to look both up at the glass and iron roofs and down at the gorgeously patterned floors. I love and appreciate the many decorative details like marble pillars and ornate clocks.

Paris Passage
Paris Passage

Head back in time when you enter a Paris Passage

You feel like you are going back in time when you enter a Paris Passage and in a sense you are. There’s also a bit of a mystery about them because they are so hidden away and you are deposited in a different place when you come out than when you went in.

They are mostly located on the more Patrician Right Bank, away from the Bohemians on the Left.

Paris Passage shopping

The labyrinth of hidden passages across Paris were built to enable wealthy people to shop regardless of weather and grit outside.

They were packed with cafes, theaters, shops, hotels and and restaurants. Often the shop owners lived on upper floors.

Many were demolished in 1860 under the Houssman’s renewal or became less used because of the development of the Grand Department Stores.

Paris Passages
Muse’e Gre’vin in Paris
Cafes in Paris Passages

Some of the ones not demolished fell into disrepair but have been restored for a glorious look at a time long gone.
The three we visited last May were Passage Jouffroy, Passage des Panoramas and Passage Verdeau.


Passages Panoramas
Passage Jourffroy

We saw the Hotel Chopin is where the composer Frederic Chopin has his amorous liaison with author George Sand and the Musee Grevin-Paris’s wax works museum. .

Hotel Chopin, Paris Passage


Muse’e Gre’vin
Musee Grevin

Built in 1847, Passage Jouffroy was first to have heated floors making it very comfortable to relax for a few hours sipping wine on a cold winter day.

Passage des Panoramas, built in 1799 is the second oldest remaining arcade in Paris. This was the first Passage to be equipped with gas lights.I love the glass ceilings and fun signs.

You can find stores you won’t find elsewhere like the stamp shop or the post card shop. My favorite was a toy store. I could have spent hours in there shopping for the grand girls. A little overwhelming but very fun. They had everything one might want for a doll house.

Charming Toy Store in Paris Passage
Toy store in Paris Passage
Paris Passage Toy Store
Post Card shop in Paris Passage
Post cards and Print in Paris Passage store.

And isn’t this cane shop interesting? If I needed to use a cane on a consistent basis, I’d start a collection of interesting ones here. I love the huge antlers over the door. Wonder if there is a story about them?

Cane shop in Paris Passage
Cane shop in Paris Passage
Cane shop in Paris Passage

We enjoyed lunch choosing from lots of options. Jack was particularly enamored with this one created from an old train car.   We choose another one where we could sit outside the restaurant, but in the Passage walkway so I could people watch.

Train restaurant in Paris Passage
Train restaurant in Paris Passage
People watching in Paris Passage

On previous trips to Paris we visited Gallery Vivienne  and Passages du Grand Cerf.

Passages du Grand Cerf was deemed the “hippest” of the arcades by the New York Times and I have to agree. Click here for a post from a previous trip.

I have 15 more of these “off the beaten track” Passages to visit. I think it is fascinating that they are right in the thick of the Paris most tourists see, but are hidden away for the curious to find.  I am already planning which ones to seek out to see unusual and historic parts of Paris..

Antlers over door of the cane shop in Paris Passage
Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Aug 17, 2015 Reply

    I love this! I can’t wait to go back to Paris again (and again)! Nice seeing you all the other night! Nancie

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Aug 18, 2015 Reply

      Great to see you too! I appreciate your nice comment on my blog. Thank you.

  2. posted by
    Sherri Wood
    Aug 18, 2015 Reply

    I’ve been thinking about Paris for next Spring/Summer and now you’ve really created a desire to go find some of the Passages.

    Thank you for your insights and sights — you capture your memories so beautifully.

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Aug 18, 2015 Reply

      Thank you, Sherri,
      I’m happy to help you with suggestions for Paris if you decide to go…..April or May are better times to go than summer! Hope you are enjoying summer out west. Montana isn’t it? And yes, the Passages are really fun to discover.

  3. posted by
    Jeff Bangsberg
    Aug 18, 2015 Reply

    I do not remember seeing anything like this when we were there in 2008. Would love to check them out if we make our way back in the future. Wonderful places to visit if it is raining. By chance, do you know if they are wheelchair accessible?

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Aug 19, 2015 Reply

      My guess is that some are and some aren’t since they were built in the 1800s. Europe isn’t as good about making old buildings accessible as the US.

  4. posted by
    Meandering Paris–Come Walk with me | DesignDestinations
    Dec 11, 2017 Reply

    […] are marked with sidewalk signs like this one.  For more about Passages check out blog posts:  Paris Passages: A Touch of Glass  and Paris: Five New Discoveries.   Many tourists sadly miss the Passage experience. I try not […]

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