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The secret passages of Paris – a guide

secret passages of paris

Ok, they’re not really secret, more like less of a tourist trap and off the beaten track. If you’re planning a visit to Paris, you must save an afternoon for a stroll along the covered passageways (passages couverts). Located in the 2nd and 9th arrondissements, around the Grands Boulevards area, they date back to the 19th century when they were supposed to allow the wealthy Parisians to shop even in bad weather conditions.

You can walk around and do some lèche-vitrine (“window licking”, i.e window shopping) through the tens of fashion and crafts boutiques, or sit down for a coffee in one of the many cafes inside the galleries. Whatever you do, you will definitely notice the charm of these passages and will feel as if you’re a character in Zola’s or Balzac’s novels.

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Passage Verdeau & Passage Jouffroy (Enter: 10-12 Boulevard Montmartre, or 9 rue de la Grange-Batelière; 2nd/9th arrondissement; Metro: Grands Boulevards)

Located in Passage Jouffroy is The Grévin Museum, Paris’ version of Madame Tussauds’. For a completely authentic experience you can book a room at Hotel Chopin, and really feel like stepping back into the 19th century. You’ll also notice a needlepoint (broderie) shop called “Au Bonheur des Dames” just like Zola’s novel. In Passage Verdeau the majority of the boutiques sell antique books and photographs.

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Passage des Panoramas (Enter: 11 Boulevard Montmartre, or 10 rue Saint-Marc; 2nd arrondissement; Metro: Grands Boulevards)

This is the oldest passageway (1799) and the first public place to be lit by gaslight. There are many cafes, restaurants and the Théâtre des Variétés built in 1807.

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Galerie Vivienne (Enter: 4 rue des Petits Champs, or 6 rue Vivienne, or 5 rue de la Banque; 2nd arrondissement; Metro: Bourse or Pyramides)

It is perhaps because of the mosaic floor or the beautiful glass ceiling, but this is my favorite. You’ll find a lot of high-end fashion boutiques here as well as antique book stores. How amazing is the window display of The Little Prince in lots of different languages?

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Galerie Vero-Dodat (Enter: 19 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, or 2 rue du Bouloi; 1st arrondissement; Metro: Louvre Rivoli)

It’s a classy setting for antique shops selling everything from vintage furniture to collectible musical instruments and toys.

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Passage du Grand Cerf (Enter: 145 rue Saint-Denis, or 10 rue Dussoubs; 2nd arrondissement;  Metro: Etienne Marcel)

I loved the intricate wrought iron ceiling and the wonderful florist shop, right at the entrance.

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susan // fleurishing - May 31, 2014 - 11:04 am

I have yet to explore the many beautiful passages…I have a friend who lives in the Grand Cerf, so I must visit!

Thank you for your lovely blog comment, I’m so glad you found me! xo

The Asian Pear - May 21, 2014 - 6:45 pm

Sigh. I miss Paris.

Saskia - May 20, 2014 - 12:37 pm

Love this post! I’ll definitely be keeping a note of these if I go to Paris in the future!

Saskia /

save. spend. splurge. - May 19, 2014 - 10:34 pm

Love this post and the photos! I went to all of these places (BF took me), and it’s quite magical in its own way.

L’Institut du Monde Arabe

The Arab World Institute in the 5th arrondissement offers one of the best views of Paris, especially of Notre Dame and the bridges over the Seine. And how about that amazing blue-grey façade? Apparently the motifs are like apertures opening and closing to control the amount of light entering the building. Impressive, no?

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Sid - May 11, 2014 - 1:33 pm

Awesome photos.

8 rue Caffarelli - April 23, 2014 - 9:50 am

Wow, truly gorgeous photos!! I’ve been meaning to visit L’Institut du Monde Arabe for ages so thank you for reminding me. :) Hopefully I’ll get the chance to make it to their roof sometime soon!

xx Christine

The Asian Pear - April 11, 2014 - 11:29 am

Every time I visit your blog, I miss Paris a little bit more. Le sigh.

Montreal’s Café Kitsuné

I came across this cute little place on my way to work and after reading a little bit about it, I found out that kitsuné means little fox in Japanese. Awww! I knew I had to go try their Earl Grey and take some pictures. I mean, look how pretty:

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Their oatmeal cookies are to-die-for, definitely the best I’ve had!

Kitsuné Espresso Bar Artisanal, 19 Prince Arthur Street West, Montreal.

amanda - April 14, 2014 - 2:10 pm

What a sweet spot! I think in mythology, kitsune are mischievous fox girls. Fun, right?

The Brooklyn Bridge at sunset

There is no surprise to anyone who knows me and my photography that I love dreamy, out of focus images. These photos, taken through a tilt-shift lens are some of my favorites from last summer’s trip to New York.

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Sid - May 11, 2014 - 1:35 pm

Loved Brooklyn Bridge. One of my favourite sights in New York.

8 rue caffarelli - April 23, 2014 - 9:52 am

Ohh how this makes me long for home… You captured it perfectly.

P.S. I’m in awe of you and your tilt-shift lens skills!

Jenny - March 14, 2014 - 7:57 am

oh wow beautiful photos!! :D

Mani - March 4, 2014 - 2:00 am

Oh my goodness, I love how these pictures turned out! The tilt-shift effect makes everything look so dreamy :)

saverspender - February 16, 2014 - 8:56 pm

SO pretty… you could sell these.

Last summer

It snowed again in Montreal today so depression is starting to creep in. I’m trying to nip it in the bud and am going through some photos I took back in June during one of those perfect summer afternoons. Just looking at these colors is doing wonders for my morale.

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Alex - May 8, 2014 - 10:56 am

Lindsay, thank you for the sweet words. I’m glad you like the photos.
The colorful houses are located at the intersection of Prince Arthur and rue Buillon. If you walk on Prince Arthur between Saint Laurent and Square Saint Louis, you can’t miss them. Square Saint Louis is very pretty as well, it has a beautiful fountain in the middle, which is my favorite in Montreal.
Keep checking back on the blog, because I’m planning some posts on restaurants and cafes I like…
Thanks again for stopping by!

Lindsay - May 8, 2014 - 10:48 am

Gorgeous!!! I’m visiting Montreal in June and stumbled upon your photos during a “summertime in Montreal” search. If you don’t mind, can you please say where those lovely + colorful row-homes are located? Thank you!

saverspender - February 9, 2014 - 3:54 pm

Basically trying not to think about the snow helps. It isn’t any better in Toronto although I must say we keep the roads and sidewalks a heck of a lot cleaner here than in Montreal. That’s one small bonus…

The Asian Pear - February 7, 2014 - 9:13 pm

Absolutely gorgeous shots!