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Project 365: Week 7 – Galerie

This week’s word is not an entirely foreign word, but when F suggested it to me as the theme to photograph, I knew immediately that this makes a good opportunity for me to explore the galeries et passages of which some are well-known but many stay pretty hidden. These Parisian galeries can be think of as precursors to modern shopping malls.

Created at a time where waste management was a citywide problem yet demands were there for more comfortable (window-)shopping experience, these covered passages offered well-maintained arcades and shelters from the elements. Some of them are still kept in good condition, but sadly a good few more are quite run down. Many had also been demolished – in its heyday, some 150 were present but only about 1/6 of them remains today, and not all are open to public.

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Galerie Vivienne

Galerie Vivienne

10 Feb: I couldn’t resist posting more than one photo of Galerie Vivienne, the most elegant galerie that I’ve visited in Paris, and certainly the best known among the visitors who search for something off the usual grid. Elaborately decorated entryway, mosaic flooring, stylish lighting, and surely enough, the shops that line this passage are also seriously upscale. A walk deep into the passage reveals private spiral staircase, presumably leading to some residences. I wouldn’t mind having such a prestigious address here ;)

Passage Jouffroy

11 Feb: Passage Jouffroy was the first to be constructed entirely of iron and metal, but finished and decorated with wood details. This is another among the well-known galerie for it is located right adjacent to the Musée Grévin (Paris’ equivalent of Madame Tussauds) and it is also where Hotel Chopin – which opened the year the passage was constructed – can be found, which in its lobby stands a piano previously owned by Chopin himself. Quirky overall set-up and well-worth a stroll.

Passage des Panoramas

12 Feb: Across the street from Passage Jouffroy, one walks straight into Passage des Panoramas, the second oldest covered passage of Paris, built in 1799. Today, it houses a good number of stamps and postcards shops, along with a variety of eateries. At first glance, it almost feels like a small mall fills with curiosity shops, but the more southern parts appear a little lost. I guess the presence of the famed engraver Stern is sorely missed. After over five years after they moved to rue du faubourg Saint-Honoré, their former premises remained unoccupied and frozen in time.

Passage Verdeau

13 Feb: Tucked behind Passage Jouffroy beyond the book stalls is another galerie, Passage Verdeau, essentially extending the axis of Passage des Panoramas and Passage Jouffroy but sadly often overlooked. I was rather amused to walk in and see, among the first shops, one which is named “The Women’s Happiness”. Should I leave you to guess the nature of the business given this very archaic appellation? ;)

Passage Prado

14 Feb: Up to now, I’ve been poking around the galeries between Palais Royal and Grands Boulevards, so a little exploration around Porte St Denis seems apt. I walked into Passage du Prado to be greeted with stares of every (foreign-origin) man loitering in the passage. The passage itself looks seriously shabby, far from the quaintness of those mentioned above, and the few shops in business consist of predominantly African beauty salons. I did spot this rather lovely and larger-than-life street art on one of its walls though. On exiting, I then noticed Chinese women standing around and the penny dropped. Good thing I had camera with me while walking in the passage, looking like a tourist, otherwise the men could have misunderstood and thought I was, errrm, soliciting business?

Galerie Colbert

15 Feb: I went back to the familiar grounds near Palais Royal, this time to Galerie Colbert that is adjacent to the Galerie Vivienne. This is the only galerie where bags will be checked at the door before entering into a pristine space that is primarily used by art-related institutes and a number of Parisian universities! The sole anomaly? Le Grand Colbert, aka the Parisian bistrot in Something’s Gotta Give, and its impressive Belle Epoque interior – although entrance is on the street outside and there is no access from within the galerie.

Passage du Caire

16 Feb: What I remember most of my first visit to Passage du Caire was the long passages; it is, afterall, the longest passage at 330m distance coverage. It is also a year older than Passage des Panoramas, making it the eldest of them all. The other thing that I noticed was, most shops in here are fashion-related. A wee bit run down in general, I didn’t see much of interest, until I came to the exit at Place du Caire. Now I see where the passage got its name: Egyptian motifs and sculptures that decorate this facade. Ah, the little things one discover randomly in Paris :D

Category: Project 365

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4 scribbles & notes

  1. med says:

    Another word for shopping? ;)

  2. Arjan says:

    Lovely. I love those galeries, and really enjoyed discovering some while living in Paris.

    • Lil says:

      There are so much little gems everywhere, and even after living here for a few years, I’m constantly discovering new nooks! How long did you live here?

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