Galleries & Passages, Paris
This passage used to be called "Passage du Puits" "Passage of the well" until a local hotel, more used to different types of activity, gave its name today, "Passage du Desir""Passage of Desire". It is a private passageway today closed by an iron grill.
Metro Chateau d'Eau is a couple of hundred metres away. Be warned, this is not the most reputable part of Paris, but safe during the day.
What are Galeries Lafayette in boulevard Haussmann? A big shopping mall for fashion lover, of course! Not only. More important, they are a temple of Art Nouveau: an explosion of coloured stain glasses that culminates in the dome, built in 1912 along with Art-Nouveau staircases.
The idea of providing protected shopping 'centers' is as old as trading : no one wants the goods to be ruined or the potential custommer deterred by weather conditions. The form may differ depending on the era and the country but such places always and everywhere exist(ed), be they souks, covered markets or shopping malls.
While the wooden galeries du Palais Royal, built in 1786 and destroyed since, are considered as the parisian galeries prototype, the real expansion of the concept occured in the first half of the19th century.
More than 30 passages or galeries have been built since and most of them still exist, each of them having its own personality: from the luxuous shops in Galerie Vivienne and Colbert to the simple passage way like Passage Dauphine, from the fashion designers haunt in Passage du Grand Cerf to the little Indian/Pakistan restaurants' collection in the shaddy Passage Brady; including the more 'classical' Passage Verdeau, Passage Jouffroy and Passage des Panoramas.
After a quasi-disapearance during the 2nd empire (overshadowed by the new 'Grands Magasins'), they found a second youth at the end of the 20th century and continue to change : the Passage du Havre has been renovated and turned into a modern mini-mall, new passages have even been created like the marche Saint Honore (hosting furniture designers)...
But they all have some things in common, the light and the sounds: due to their glass roofs, the natural light, even filtered through pebble-glass differs from any sort of man-made light, and they retain this incredible quality of peace due to muted sounds.
Some more photos here
Unbelievable, but true : Paris is a sum of small villages... You already know about Le Marais, La Butte aux Cailles, Montmartre and Les Batignolles ? Now, meet... the villas of the 19th district... These "villas" are some small alleys on each side of which are settled small but typical french houses... The foliage even gets over the fences to render a feeling of southern closeness....
As I was wandering around Pigalle (unduly called the red district by my VT fellow Captainamerica), I've discovered a private passage that leads directly to this magnificent facade... No way a parisian may imagine such a beautiful architecture in such a "nasty" area !!!
I have known this gallery, one of the numerous ones built in the 19th century, and which is located in the 2nd district when it was just a run-down passage between rue Vivienne and rue des Petits-champs, handy to use in the rainy Parisian winter. It joins Galerie Colbert, and nowadays, they have been beautifully restaured, and specially around Christmas time, with lights and decorations,there is a magical atmosphere in both. Antique books, original toys, an excellent second hand clothes retail shop, tea-rooms, and brasseries are among the finds that both Parisians and tourists enjoy.
Situated in the 6th district of Paris, the Passage Dauphine is a resting and peaceful place that I strongly recommend for people who are fed up with wandering around the most busy and commercial streets of this district...
Les Passages-- back in Pennsylvania, we had the shopping experience of the King of Prussia Mall-- consumerism at its finest, and rather overwhelming. Here in Paris, the 'mall culture' is rather different. There are a series of delightful 'passages,' or malls, that will take your breath away. Visit Galerie Vivienne at 4, rue des Petits Champs et 6, rue Vivienne (in the 2ème arr.)--
Métro: Bourse, Pyramides, Palais-Royal. The photo gives you an idea of what to expect. This 'mall' opened in 1823, and what you see is basically what shoppers in 1823 experienced. Also visit Passage Jouffroy, and Passage des Panoramas... there are more than 20 to discover in Paris, each with its own personality and charm.
Below is a great web site with pictures of them all.
And another interesting site: http://www.metropoleparis.com/1998/322/322pano.html
There are two galleries there, the Colbert and the Vivienne. Built in 1826, they're the most elegant in Paris. Between the rue des Petits-Champs and rue Vivienne.
4, rue des Petits-Champs, 1st Arrondissement.
A particularly interesting kind of shopping experience is the 19th century gallery or 'passage'. There are a bunch of these just to the east of the Opera Garnier.