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The secret passages of Paris – a guide

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 lèchevitrine (“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.

secret passages of paris - map

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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Comments (15)

  • 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.

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

    Saskia / girlinbrogues.com

  • Sigh. I miss Paris.

  • 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

  • […] ..and speaking of beauty, if you visit Paris you shouldn’t miss out on the passages couverts. […]

  • […] ..and speaking of beauty, if you visit Paris you shouldn’t miss out on the passages couverts. […]

  • Wonderful post. I will save this. Maybe someday I will get to France.

  • […] when someone asks me what to do in Paris when it’s raining, the talented photographer behind the Tell Tale blog has beautifully captured the spirit of Paris’ many covered hidden passageways, built in the […]

  • […] Hai delle riunioni con i tuoi nuovi clienti di Parigi? Ritagliati un po’ di tempo per del “sano shopping” lontano dalle orde di turisti degli Champs Elysées o delle Galeries Lafayette. Concediti qualcosa di più particolare, come andare alla scoperta dei passages couverts, le gallerie dello shopping di fine Ottocento, in cui si respira ancora un’atmosfera così fin-de-siècle. Tell A Tale Blog ci conduce alla loro scoperta. […]

  • […] articol despre câteva din mult mai vechile pasaje ale Parisului, așa cum sunt azi. Îl găsești aici. — Un eBook care te […]

  • […] Have some meetings with your new clients in Paris? Save yourself a little time for some “healthy shopping”, far from the crowds of tourists on the Champs Elysées or in the Galeries Lafayette. Treat yourself to something more unusual, such as discovering the passages couverts, the late 19th-century shopping galleries where you can still breathe in a refined fin-de-siècle atmosphere. Tell A Tale Blog takes us on a discovery of them. […]

  • […] And, yes, I got photos but they were not near as sweet as the ones here –>> secret passageways . All those pretty flowers and sweet little nick-knacks were closed inside the stores. Mostly […]

  • […] galleries are clearly marked, some are that inconspicuous you could easily walk straight past some secret passages. You could take a tour, we found one that does a private, half day tour for 250€, but you can […]

  • What a fascinating City. All these beautiful secret tunnels. Only in Paris I am sure.

  • […] if the weather is nice, we can go outside and wander off the beaten track, away from the busy, touristy streets and do as the locals do. Since we are wandering around, […]


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