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