Galerie Vero-Dodat, Paris
Just a block and a half from the Hôtel Louvre Bons Enfants, between rue Croix-des-Petits-Champs and rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, there is an elegant nineteenth-century passage called Galerie Véro-Dodat with wood-panelled shop fronts, black marble columns and paintings on the ceiling.
The Galerie was quite deserted on the evening we walked through (and the pleasant-looking restaurant was closed), but in the nineteenth century this must have been a lively place. Just opposite the entrance to the Galerie Véro-Dodat, on rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau (third photo), was the main departure point for the horse-drawn stage coaches or diligences of the company called “Lafitte et Caillard”, which in the 1820s and 30s developed a solid reputation for speed and punctuality.
As Victor Hugo wrote in his novel Les Misérables: “We flee in the arms of Laffitte and on the wings of Caillard. We dash along at full speed, at a rate of three leagues an hour.”
That would be twelve kilometers an hour in today’s terms, but Victor Hugo would turn over in his grave (in the Panthéon) if he heard me saying that, because he was a fierce opponent of the metric system.
In those days the shops in the Galerie Véro-Dodat used to open at five in the morning to serve the passengers of the first stage coaches leaving for cities all over France. Smoking was not allowed in the stage coaches, by the way, and prices were often quite affordable because of the ruinous competition between rival stage-coach companies.
Location and photo of Galerie Véro-Dodat on monumentum.fr
48°51'45.49" North, 2°20'26.74" East
Métro Louvre Rivoli
Next review from January 2012: Grand Palais
Created in 1826 by 2 speculator/pork butchers Vero and Dodat in a neo-classical design, the passage was a great favourite as a short cut between the Palais-Royal and the Halles. Being one of the first places in Paris to have gas lighting, the passage became well used and frquented also by the numerous passengers waiting for their stagecoach to leave, as there was a main stop and ticket office just outside the entrance. The gallery, although renovated in the 80's and again in 1997 stills retains its olde-worlde charm, owing much to the dark wood facades, copper fittings and fresques on the ceiling.
Nearest metro is Louvre-Rivoli.
This gallery was built in 1826 by Véro and Dodat, two butchers. It links the rue Croix-des-Petits-Champs to the rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau. On the 1st Arrondissement.