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The charming covered passageways of Paris.

Tucked away from the bustling Parisian boulevards, markets and landmarks, several picturesque "passages couverts" remaining from the 18th and 19th centuries are extra hidden treasures awaiting discovery in a city overflowing with history.

On a drizzly afternoon this Spring, I ventured out to explore a few of these covered passageways located on the Right Bank within the 2nd and 9th arrondissements. With À la Mère de Famille - a favorite chocolatier on Rue du Faubourg Montmartre - as the starting point, a series of three passageways that flow into each other effortlessly right in that area make the perfect spot to wander through first.

Although less than thirty passageways exist today, a labyrinth of nearly 150 pedestrian-only covered walkways were developed by planners and integrated into the city's infrastructure by 1850. Filled with an abundance of beautiful architectural detailing from elegant stained glass and mosaic tile patterns to vaulted ceilings, wood carved paneling, arched windows, sculpted pillars, bronze lamps and cast iron works, many of these stunning features are still intact.

Passage Verdeau - built in 1847

Passage Jouffroy - built in 1836

Passage des Panoramas - the oldest covered walkway built in 1799

Designed as both a shopping and social experience sheltering visitors from horse-drawn carriages and inclement weather, each passageway displayed a distinct atmosphere and style housing quaint specialty shops and cafés on the ground floor while the upper floor contained living quarters.

Galerie Vivienne - built in 1823

Galerie Vérot-Dodat - built in 1826

Passage Choiseul - built in 1827

Passage du Grand Cerf - built in 1825

Unfortunately, most of the covered arcades were demolished at the time Baron Haussman led Paris through renovations during the mid-19th century to pave the way for grander avenues and elaborate buildings. The ones that survive are either now classified as historical monuments or under protection by the City of Paris. Landlords of the luxury boutiques, art galleries, theaters and bookshops anchored within receive financial assistance to invest and preserve the original history and architecture for continued inspiration of these magnificent gems from the past.

By the end of that afternoon, I had strolled through seven different passages with various exquisite antique characteristics unlocking yet another fascinating layer of Parisian culture.

Adding more to the list to discover on the next visit!


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