When I first arrived in Paris, I worked in an office on the rue du 4 Septembre, not far from the Place de l’Opera. And I accidentally discovered the amazing covered passageways – in French they are called either “Passages” or “Galeries” – that are concentrated in the center of Paris. Covered passageways were a kind of 19th century shopping mall. With their glass domes they protected shoppers from the rain and they offered a wide variety of shops and cafes and restaurants. Around twenty of these elegant architectural and cultural gems exist today and you can spend several hours exploring the shops, having a snack or a drink, all sheltered from inclement weather. Two of my favorites are:
• Galerie Vivienne with entrances on the rue Vivienne (at number 4), the rue des Petits-Champs (at number 5) and the rue de la Banque (at number 5). Admire the old and specialty bookshops and clothing boutiques, stop for a drink or a meal in one of the charming restaurants. Oft times one Galerie links to another, as is the case here with the Galerie Colbert. See www.galerie-vivienne.com for some useful information. Why not stop in for some hot chocolate (see n° 13 Chocolat Chaud for information) at Le Grand Colbert at n°4, rue Vivienne. Metro: Bourse (Line 3).
Passage des Panoramas, 11 Boulevard Montmartre or 10 rue Saint-Marc, in the 9th arrondissement. Metro: Grands Boulevards (Lines 8, 9). This passage dates back to the end of the 18th century and it is the oldest covered passage in Paris. You will find stamp collectors, antique postcard boutiques, restaurants, new trendy shops and venerable establishments such as the Theatre des Varietes (www.theatre-des-varietes.fr) that opened in 1807. I much prefer stopping in one of the many little bars or restaurants for a drink or a quick bite than the uninteresting tourist watering spots on the boulevard Montmartre. The Passage des Panoramas in turn links to several other passages: Galerie des Varietes, Galerie Feydeau, Galerie Montmartre, and Galerie Saint Marc. As well, it’s directly across the boulevard Montmartre from the Passage Jouffroy, which leads to the Passage Verdeau.)
See www.passagedespanoramas.fr If you plan to visit the Musee Grevin (http://www.grevin.com/en/node/75) note that the exit is located in the Passage Jouffroy., so it might be fun to combine these visits.