Anyone fortunate enough to have visited and experienced the phenomenal covered passages of Paris will tell you of their unmatched splendor, unrivaled beauty, and exclusivity.
Paris is widely considered among the most fascinating cities globally, with so much to offer locals and tourists from around the world.
From famous landmarks like the iconic Eiffel Tower to charming cafes and pastry shops, the well-known European city never fails to entertain. However, many people overlook a notable side to Paris: the covered passages of Paris.
The covered passages of Paris are unique to the city, and exploring them will undoubtedly give anyone an enthralling glimpse into the city’s fundamental history, architecture, and culture.
Visiting some of the covered passages of Paris is essential when visiting the city due to its historical significance, rarity, and sophisticated appeal, as this article will demonstrate.
History Of The Covered Passages Of Paris
The covered passages of Paris were first constructed in the later parts of the 18th century and the early years of the 19th century, which coincided with the city’s modernization attempts.
While the Paris covered passages were being built, the city was simultaneously expanding at an unprecedented pace.
This required the development of numerous new avenues, intending to seamlessly accommodate Paris’ exponential growth.
However, due to the number of pedestrians and horse carriages operating within the avenues, they became highly congested and treacherous.
As the commonly utilized avenues constructed in Paris became a hazard for everyday pedestrians, the city initiated the erection of multiple timeless covered passages to provide a safer and more comfortable route for people to walk around the city effortlessly.
The first passages of Paris were covered with stunning glass roofs, allowing abundant natural light on the pathways while providing sufficient protection from the city’s occasionally severe weather conditions.
However, as the one-of-a-kind glass ceilings covered passages in Paris, they were lavishly decorated with rare ornate floor tiles and perfectly painted ceilings.
Many upper-market shops and desirable cafes were commonplace. In many ways, the covered passages were an early form of the modern shopping mall, with a wide range of goods and services available to the public.
Unfortunately, the popularity of the covered passages was short-lived, as they were gradually replaced by the larger and more efficient department stores that emerged towards the later parts of the 19th century.
This eventually led to many of the passages falling into disrepair, and by the middle of the 20th century, most of the artistic masterpieces had been forgotten.
However, there has been a noticeably renewed interest in these unique and remarkably beautiful open spaces over the last five years.
Many passages have undergone significant renovations and restoration, allowing them to experience their former glory.
The recent upgrades and regenerated public interest have resulted in most of the covered passages of Paris once again becoming a popular tourist destination, even for long-term citizens.
If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in the city of love, locating, exploring, and experiencing a few of the best Parisian arcades should be an essential item on your list.
The Covered Passages Of The Paris Walking Tour
While you could always venture on a self-guided tour, especially if you’re looking for free things to do in Paris, you should definitely take a guided tour of the passages to fully appreciate the beauty and history of the passages.
After all, you’ll be hearing and learning from a person with expertise on this topic, right?
On a walking tour of Paris covered passages, you will explore and learn about the hidden gems and all the artistic beauty they are known to offer from a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide.
While many of the Paris covered passages are worthwhile visiting, these are some of the most notable, revered, and unmissable examples, which are the ones visited on this walking tour.
17 Most Charming Covered Passages of Paris
1. Galerie Vivienne
The Galerie Vivienne is one of the most stunning covered passages in Paris.
The Parisian arcade is among the most famous and was constructed in 1823, featuring an incredibly striking glass roof, marble floors, and unparalleled arched windows.
The passage is home to many upper-market shops and gourmet restaurants. In addition, there are numerous fabric shops, charming bookshops, and coffee shops for tourists to select from, making this covered passage of Paris a must-see for locals and tourists.
The Galerie Vivienne, located in the 2nd arrondissement, is one of Paris’s most distinct and elegantly covered passages.
Developed at the beginning of 1823, the Parisian arcade has surprisingly retained most of its original grandeur, which it had traditionally been associated with by tourists and local citizens.
Furthermore, the covered passage of Paris retains many high-end shops offering everything from antique books and rare wine to the most exquisite jewelry and fashion.
The Galerie, located in the heart of the Parisian arcade, also features an outdoor cafe where you can relax and soak up the remarkable atmosphere.
One of the most striking characteristics of the Galerie Vivienne is its exquisite mosaic floor, which is covered with intricate patterns and designs.
Its glass ceiling allows for abundant natural light, which significantly enhances the beauty of the passage.
Considered to be among the most famous Paris-covered passages, the Galerie Vivienne will always be known for its impressive frescoes, patterns, and mosaics, which have recently been restored to their former glory.
Address: 4 Rue des Petits Champs
2. Passage Jouffroy
The Passage Jouffroy is among the most charming, covered passages of Paris. Originally constructed in 1847, it is known for its seamlessly carved wooden panels and exquisite glass roof.
This passage is home to several antique shops, toy stores, and cafes and remains among the most popular destinations for visitors and locals alike.
The Passage Jouffroy is another must-see covered passage in Paris. Situated in the 9th arrondissement, one of the most famous Parisian arcades began development in the mid-1840s.
The Passage Jouffroy is best known for being the narrowest and most enthralling of Paris’s covered passages.
In addition, the Passage Jouffroy is home to informal dealers, pastry chefs, and numerous other specialty shops unique to the European city.
Anyone fortunate enough to explore the Passage Jouffroy will agree that its distinct and striking wooden architecture largely reminisces Paris’ romanticized bygone era.
Walking through the passage can feel like you are stepping back in time, with its elegant spiral staircase and intricate wooden details being ever-present.
Address: 10-12 Boulevard Montmartre
3. Passage Choiseul
The Passage Choiseul is one of Paris’s oldest and most famous covered passages, constructed in 1825.
It is a relatively small passage but is home to numerous shops and restaurants, which include an iconic chocolate shop and a Spanish tapas bar.
The Passage Choiseul is another quaint Paris covered passage situated within the 2nd arrondissement.
Developed in the 1820s, the Passage Choiseul is lined with traditional Parisian shops and cafes.
Many experts and local tour guides agree that it remains one of the best-preserved passages in the European city.
The Passage Choiseul is the perfect Parisian arcade for those aiming to remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of the city by taking a stroll through its intricately decorated walls, shops, and cafes.
The passage is also home to some of the most exclusive perfume shops in Paris, where some of the world’s richest people descend to make yearly fragrance purchases.
Address: 40 Rue des Petits Champs
4. Galerie Vero-Dodat
The Galerie Vero-Dodat is another example of the undoubtedly stunning Paris covered passages.
The Parisian arcade in the 1st Arrondissement was originally constructed in early 1826 and features a unique glass dome, marble floors, and exquisite neoclassical architecture.
Moreover, the Galerie Vero-Dodat retains several high-end fashion boutiques, restaurants, a local café, and one of Frances’s most globally revered bistros.
In addition, the covered passage of Paris has become closely associated with its black and white checkered floors, with its remarkable design attracting countless people from various foreign countries.
The Parisian covered passage is a favorite among exclusive and high-end fashion lovers, with the Galerie Vero-Dodat being home to some of the most expensive boutiques in the entire country.
Address: 19 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau
5. Galerie de Montpensier
The Galerie de Montpensier is Paris’s oldest and most historically significant covered passage.
Dating back to 1784, the Galerie de Montpensier is appropriately situated near the Palais Royal, allowing it to host luxury boutiques, antique art dealers, sophisticated shops, and French cafes.
For those people aiming to take a leisurely stroll through some of Paris’ most historically significant locations while enjoying unbeatable window shopping experiences, the Galerie de Montpensier is the perfect place in Paris to start the journey.
Address: 6 Gal de Montpensier
6. Passage Brady
Known as the “Little India” of Paris, this Parisian arcade is home to several spice shops, Indian restaurants, and local boutiques.
Passage Brady has become associated with the best-covered passage in Paris to experience unique Indian cuisines and culture without leaving the European city.
Moreover, Passage Brady is among the most revered of the covered passages as it accurately reflects the diversity of modern Paris.
Furthermore, Passage Brady houses a wide range of Indian shops and restaurants, which fills the surrounding air with an exquisite aroma of spices and incense.
Unfortunately, Passage Brady is known to be one of the busiest and most crowded of the Paris covered passages. However, the accompanying rich cultural experience is something not to be missed.
Address: 46 rue du Faubourg Saint Denis
7. Passage Du Havre
The Passage Du Havre is a relatively modern covered passage, with its development being initiated in 1845.
The Passage Du Havre is home to various small shops and cafes, which include an incredibly well-known pastry shop that serves the most mouthwatering macarons in the entire city.
While the Passage Du Havre’s construction was completed in 1845, it was first opened to the public in early 1846 and was an instant success with the local Parisian population.
Importantly, Paris’s most famous covered passage is situated less than 10 miles from the Saint-Lazare train station, allowing it to become a sustained commercial success for more than 100 concurrent years.
The Passage Du Havre retains famous retailers within its lavishly decorated walls, such as Zara, Gap, H&M, and Fossil, further demonstrating the significance of its location.
Address: 109 Rue Saint-Lazare
8. Passage Verdeau
The Passage Verdeau is a small, charming covered passage with a beautifully decorated glass roof and many vintage shops, bookstores, and famous retailers.
This passage is considered a hidden gem often overlooked by tourists and some locals due to its relative obscurity.
Located in the 3rd arrondissement, the Passage Verdeau first broke ground in 1847, immediately attracting locals and tourists attempting to escape the traditional Parisian congestion.
It should be noted that this covered passage of Paris was originally designed to further two separate passages known as Passage Jouffroy and Passage Des Panoramas.
Anyone familiar with the Passage Verdeau agrees that its genuineness and relatively hidden nature have retained most of its distinguished glory, beauty, and historical significance.
Address: 6 rue de la Grange-Batelière
9. Passage du Caire
The Passage du Caire is the longest covered passage in Paris, spanning an incredible 550 feet.
Initially constructed in 1798, the Passage du Claire is well known for its unique Egyptian-inspired decorations, which include ancient original hieroglyphics and faux columns.
Moreover, the Passage du Caire houses numerous small Parisian shops, cafes, and restaurants, making it an appealing destination for anyone to experience.
Paris has always been globally revered for its quaint and picturesque passages designed to enable local citizens to escape the danger and congestion previously associated with traveling in the European city.
These Parisian passages were mostly erected during the 1800s and 1900s, becoming the first indoor shopping arcades in the world.
The Passage du Claire is no exception to this rule, with the Parisian arcade being known for its beautiful glass roof, elegant shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Local experts have noted that the Passage du Claire, in particular, was a direct precursor to modern-day shopping malls.
Despite many of the Paris covered passages falling into disrepute in the mid-19th century, the French government undertook an extensive renovation program over the last decade to restore them to their traditional grandeur, attracting millions of tourists in the process.
Address: 2 place du Caire
10. Galerie Colbert
Many experts consider the Galerie Colbert one of the most elegant and ornate of the Paris covered passages.
Initially built in 1826, the Galerie Colbert has always been known for its distinguished and stunning glass roof, uniquely combined with some of the most elaborate artwork imaginable.
Importantly, the Galerie Colbert is located near the Palais Royal, allowing countless people to access the Parisian arcade effortlessly.
It should be noted that the Galerie Colbert features a remarkably impressive collection of luxury shops, bookstores, cafes, and art galleries, making it a must-see destination for anyone situated in the famous European city.
Address: 4 rue Vivienne
11. Galerie de la Madeleine
The Galerie de la Madeleine is located near the Place de la Madeleine and has become globally revered for its impressive and timeless architectural displays.
Initially developed in early 1845, the Galerie de la Madeleine is known to house some of the most exclusive, upper-market, and distinguished boutiques in Paris, if not the whole of Europe.
In addition, the famous covered passage of Paris also features a striking glass dome, allowing abundant natural light to effortlessly enter the walkways, creating an airy and bright atmosphere.
Address: 9 place de la Madeleine
12. Passage des Princes
The Passage des Princes is considered one of Paris’ best-kept secrets, with the covered passage uniquely located in the vicinity of the incredibly popular Grands Boulevards.
Development of the Passage des Princes was initiated in late 1846m. The Parisian arcade became best known for its remarkable collection of toy stores, boutiques, and other retail outlets, making it the ideal location for tourists to find unique toys and games.
Moreover, the Passage des Princes is also home to a vintage carousel that attracts thousands yearly.
While the Passage des Princes is not as famous or revered as some of the other examples mentioned in this article, it is frequently considered the most desirable location for experienced travelers.
Address: 5 boulevard des Italiens
13. Passage du Grand Cerf
Many tourists and locals consider the Passage du Grand Cerf the most impressive and impressionable covered passage in Paris.
It is worth noting that the Passage du Grand Cerf features a must-see glass and wrought-iron roof, which stretches over three floors.
The iron and glass roof is a remarkable piece of engineering, with its significance further enhanced due to the Parisian arcade being developed more than a century ago.
Suppose you happen to take a peaceful stroll through the Passage du Grand Cerf.
In that case, you cannot miss the numerous design houses, fashion boutiques, cafes, and restaurants located within the walkways of the Paris covered passage.
Address: 145 rue Saint-Denis
14. Passage du Ponceau
The Passage du Ponceau is one of the smaller Parisian arcades located in the 2nd arrondissement.
Erected in 1826, this passage is home to a unique collection of art galleries, antique stores, and Parisian boutiques.
In addition, the passage houses several cafes and restaurants, making it the perfect location for you and your family to take in the distinguished atmosphere while consuming a mouth-watering local meal.
It is vital to note that the Passage du Ponceau was originally named after the most sought-after form of entertainment at the time, the panorama.
The ancient form of entertainment known as the panorama was various paintings accurately depicting magnificent landscapes and numerous historically significant events occurring at the time.
The passageway is lined with elegant boutiques and restaurants, including some of the city’s finest chocolatiers and wine shops, making it the ideal Parisian arcade for any sophisticated, experienced, and open-minded tourist to visit.
The Passage du Ponceau is particularly interesting due to its remarkable art nouveau decor, which is considered a unique contrast to its more traditional and classic architecture.
You will find this decor style throughout the passage, from the grand staircase to the ornate glass domes, which allow abundant natural light to enter the revered walkways effortlessly.
Suppose you are fortunate enough to be situated in the Passage du Ponceau.
In that case, it is essential to ensure you reserve some of your time to stroll through its various nooks and crannies, which are known to contain some of the rarest, most distinct, and desirable hidden gems imaginable.
Address: 212 Rue Saint-Denis, 119 Bd de Sébastopol
15. Passage Puteaux
The Passage Puteaux is a charming passage located near the Opera Garnier, making it one of Paris’s busiest and most popular covered passages during the 19th century.
Originally built in 1845, the Passage Puteaux is lined with several boutique shops and cafes, with a variety usually appealing to people of all ages, cultures, and budgets.
It is worth noting that the Passage Puteax is best known for its incredibly picturesque hanging plants, with the greenery giving the covered passage a genuine aura that cannot be replicated within any of the other traditional Paris walkways mentioned on this list.
Address: 28 Rue Pasquier, 31 Rue de l’Arcade
16. Passage du Bourg l’Abbé
The Passage du Bourg l’Abbé is another hidden gem in the heart of the famous European city.
Situated near the popular Rue Saint-Denis, the covered walkway features elegant traditional French architecture, containing several retailers specializing in vintage clothing, furniture, and rare accessories.
Moreover, many long-term Paris locals consider the Passage du Bourg l’Abbé to contain the most sophisticated, trendy, unique, and artistic bars and cafes, appealing to millions globally.
While the Passage du Bourg l’Abbé is not as famous as some of its compatriots previously mentioned on this list, it is among the best and should be an essential part of any tourist’s adventures.
Address: 120 Rue Saint-Denis
17. Passage Ben Aiad
The Passage Ben Aiad is one of the smaller covered passages located in the 18th arrondissement.
This passage is home to several boutique shops and cafes, making it the ideal destination for you and your family to experience a local French pasty while fully absorbing the bustling atmosphere within the covered passage of Paris.
A small gallery usually showcases local artists during the week, making it a desirable spot to escape the usual hustle and bustle associated with the city.
If you’re looking to explore a different side of Paris, it is essential to visit, explore, and experience as many of its stunning covered passages as possible.
It is well known that each passage retains a genuine Parisian charm and is a testimony to Paris’ rich history and remarkable culture.
Next time you find yourself in Paris, it is highly recommended to dedicate some of your time to exploring the covered passages of Paris.
Address: 9 rue Léopold Bellan – 8 rue Bachaumont
Enjoyed learning a bit about the covered passages of Paris? Then share it with a friend or on your social media!
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Before you leave for France, make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy because accidents happen on the road. We have been paying for Safety Wing travel insurance for a little over a year now, and we happily recommend them to our family and friends.
If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you'll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what was stolen.
Because, for just a couple of dollars a day (depending on how long your policy is for), you're going to get lots of things covered. Be smart and get travel insurance.