Guided tour of the Covered Passages

The covered passages were born in the XIXth century in Paris, on the model of older galleries created just a few years before French Revolution at the Palais Royal : they were called the Wooden galleries, built in 1781 by Philippe Egalité, owner of the Palais Royal. They knew an incredible success, to the extent that it was very hard to go around ; according to Balzac,there were about 300 shops opened in the archways (booksellers, but also gambling joints and brothels…), appealing all Paris for 40 years.


Inspired by the Wooden galleries, the covered passages are the reflect of the parisian community from the XIXth century, and embody modernity ; the architecture had to respect rules like : to have a glass roof, “nouveautés” shops on the ground floor (very often under archaways), to be lavishly decorated (with paintings, mirrors), and new : to be artificially lighted in particular with these famous gas street-lamps. This is a revolution : you can walk in there by night like in broad daylight!

This is a real invitation to stroll, to reverie, and this out-of-time walk leads us to the Palais-Royal and to the beautiful Véro-Dodat gallery, then to the majestic twin-galleries Colbert and Vivienne, and then, close to the Grand Boulevards with the Passage de Choiseul, where the famous writer Céline used to live in his childhood, the Passage des Panoramas, the very lively Passage Jourffroy….

Photo credits : Emilie Robaldo