The covered passages of Paris have intrigued me ever since I first wandered down one, my eyes were torn between the ornate glass ceiling, the old-school shop fronts and the charming tiled floor. After this, I made a point to visit as many as possible on a subsequent visit to Paris, in search of the best covered passages. You could say I visited 21 of them, so you don’t have to!
These covered passages are one of the many charming features of Paris and remain somewhat off the beaten track. I doubt that many people seek out the covered passages on their first visit to Paris, but there are fascinating parts of the city and the best ones are worth experiencing if you want to get to know Paris better.
Many retain their attractive original 19th-century features and are home to quaint independent shops and cafes. However, there are also many which are badly renovated, run down and quite depressing. So, to avoid disappointment, check out my guide to the best covered passages in Paris.
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What Are The Covered Passages Of Paris?
In the early to mid-19th century, many covered passages were built in Paris, designed to be a more pleasant shopping experience for wealthy patrons than the dirty Paris streets. These passages couverts were walkways with shops and cafes, protected from the elements by a vaulted ceiling. Typical features include wrought iron and glass ceilings, traditional wooden shopfronts & decorative tiled floors.
By around 1850, there were over 150 of them, but then the ambitious redesign of Paris came, and Haussmann’s wide boulevards and mansion buildings destroyed many of them. And the new grand department stores like Galleries Lafayette, Printemps and La Samaritaine were a more glamourous and convenient draw for shoppers.
These days, around 25 covered passages remain (I’ve seen different numbers, and am not sure of the official count).
Where can I find the covered passages of Paris?
The remaining covered passages of Paris are on the Right Bank of the Seine, and mainly in the 2nd, 8th and 9th arrondissements.
I’ve included a map of the covered passages, categorised according to my recommendation for visiting them, based on my own experience. You can use this to find the covered passages you are interested in.
However, if you prefer guided tours to independent exploration, there is a guided tour of covered passages in Paris you can take instead.
The Best Covered Passages In Paris
These five are the covered passages I liked the most, based on how attractive their architecture and design are, combined with the kind of shops or eateries you can find there, plus the atmosphere within them.
Passage Choiseul was built between 1826 and 1827 and features in the novels of Louis-Ferdinand Céline. His descriptions of it were not very favourable (something about the smell of gas lamps and urine!), but it was renovated and re-opened to the public in 2013 – and it is rather delightful these days!
What’s it like? Once you get past the unassuming entrance, inside you’ll find a smart and pretty passage. It has a range of different kinds of shops and there’s plenty to discover. It also has some nice cafes, so you can both eat and shop here.
At 190 meters long, it is the longest covered passage in the city and is a registered historic monument in France.
Where is it: Passage Choiseul is in the Opera area, in the 2nd arrondissement. You can find entrances to Passage Choiseul at 40 Rue des Petits Champs, 23 Rue Saint-Augustin and 40 Rue Dalayrac. There’s also an entrance via Passage Sainte Anne on Rue Sainte-Anne.
Closest Metro station: Quatre-Septembre.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 8 am-8 pm.
Passage du Grand Cerf
Built in 1825, Passage du Grand Cerf is named for a stag’s head that is on display in the Rue Saint-Denis entrance
What’s it like? Passage du Grand Cerf has one of the highest ceilings of all the covered passages in Paris, which, combined with its fancy red carpet, gives the passage a real sense of grandeur.
Despite this, it has quite a quirky personality, and you’ll find plenty of interesting features like models of animals and playful signs. It has a lot of craft shops, as well as fabric shops. You can also find some antiques, jewellery and Nik-naks here.
Where is it: You can find entrances to Passage du Grand Cerf at 10 Rue Dussoubs and 145 Rue Saint-Denis the 2nd arrondissement.
Closest Metro station: Étienne Marcel
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 8.30 am to 8.30 pm.
If you love old books, you’ll love Passage Verdeau because this handsome passage, built in 1847, has a lot of vintage bookshops, antiques and also some art prints.
What’s it like? With these antique shops and much of its original design features, it feels a little like a 19th century time capsule. However, it also has some modern eateries, which help give it a nice atmosphere. Overall, it is a pleasant place to spend time browsing and shopping.
Where is it: You can find entrances to Passage Verdeau at 31 Rue Du Faubourg Montmartre and 6 Rue De La Grange Bateliere, in the 9th arrondissement.
Closest Metro station: Le Peletier and Grands Boulevards
Opening times: Monday to Friday, 7:30 am-9 pm. Weekends, 7:30 am-8:30 pm.
Passage Jouffroy was built by the same company as Passage Verdeau (overseen by Count Félix de Jouffroy-Gonsans, who gave it his name) and has an entrance opposite Passage Verdeau on Rue Du Faubourg Montmartre. Opened in 1845, it was the first Parisian passage built entirely of metal and glass. Only the decorative elements are wooden. It was also the first to be heated from the ground!
What’s it like? Passage Jouffroy is very attractive and, like Passage Verdeau, has lots of charming old bookshops and art shops, plus some selling vintage posters. There’s also an old fashioned umbrella shop, Gallerie Fayet, and a lovely tearoom, Valentin Tea Rooms, plus the entrance to the quaint Hotel Chopin.
It has an interesting quirk which is a corner in the middle, where the route bends around existing structures.
Where is it: You can find entrances to Passage Jouffroy at 9 Rue De La Grange Bateliere, and 10-12 Boulevard Montmartre, in the 9th arrondissement.
Closest Metro station: Grands Boulevards and Richelieu – Drouot
Opening times: 7 am to 9.30 pm
Passage des Panoramas
Passage des Panoramas is one of the oldest covered passages in Paris, having been built in 1800. It was named for two rotundas with panoramic paintings of Paris and other cities, which have since been removed – and it was mentioned in Émile Zola’s novel Nana.
This one is possibly my favourite covered passage in Paris (and also the first I stumbled upon). Passage des Panoramas is not as smart and elegant as Jouffroy and Verdeau, but its mismatch of tiled flooring and fixtures give it more personality, which appeals to me. It retains its 19th-century character but still feels alive and vibrant.
What’s it like? It has several specialist stamp shops, as well as other collectables like postcards, coins and autographs. It also has plenty of cafes, so it is somewhere you could hang out and enjoy, which is great if you’re looking for somewhere to seek shelter if it rains or if you’re in Paris in winter.
Where is it? You can find entrances to Passage des Panoramas at 11 Boulevard Montmartre (opposite the entrance to Passage Jouffroy), 158 rue Montmartre, 10 Rue Saint-Marc, and 38 Rue Vivienne, in the 2nd arrondissement.
Closest Metro station: Grands Boulevards and Richelieu – Drouot
Opening times: 6 am to midnight.
Covered Passages In Paris – Beautiful, But Lack Atmosphere
These covered passages are really attractive and are worth a visit for their architecture and design. However, they come with a warning that they lack atmosphere – often because they had very few open shops and /or the passage attracts few shoppers.
Built in 1823 to compete with next door’s Galerie Vivienne, Galerie Colbert is unlike other covered passages that you can visit, because it has no shops. It houses the Institut Nationale d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA) and the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP), which require a bag check on arrival at the passage. It was classified Historical Monument in 1974.
What’s it like? It is very grand and has some really ornate designs, marble pillars and a spectacular glass-domed rotunda towards the back. However, due to the lack of shops and foot traffic, as elegant as it is, it lacks atmosphere. The only life to be found is in the Art Nouveau style brasserie, Le Grand Colbert, near the entrance.
Where is it: You can find entrances to Galerie Colbert at 6 Rue des Petits Champs and 2-4 Rue Vivienne, in the 2nd arrondissement.
Closest Metro station: Pyramides
Opening times: 8.30 am to 8.30 pm.
Also built in 1923, Galerie Vivienne is famed for its neo-classical Pompeian style including an elegant canopy, mosaics, paintings and sculptures. It is ornate and elegant – really quite beautiful.
What’s it like? There are some high-end clothing shops and a bistro and a very fancy-looking wine shop near the main entrance on Rue des Petits Champs. There’s also Libraire Ancienne Moderne, which is a lovely old bookshop. While it does attract more people than Galerie Colbert, it is still lacking buzz – but of the two, Galerie Vivienne has slightly more to draw you in and keep you.
Where is it: You can find entrances to Galerie Vivienne at 4 Rue des Petits Champs, 6 Rue Vivienne and 5 Rue de la Banque, in the 2nd arrondissement.
Closest Metro station: Pyramides
Opening times: Every day, 8.30 am to 8.30 pm.
Galerie Véro-Dodat was built in 1826 and was once of the first covered passages to get gas lighting in 1830.
What’s it like? It looks very high end, with attractive wood-panelled shop fronts, ornate ceilings and a smart paved floor. The shop units include a luthier, an art gallery and a Christian Louboutin boutique. However, it’s a fairly short passage, so not much to keep you there for long – and when I visited, there was hardly anyone there, apart from me and an influencer having their photograph taken by the entrance.
Where is it: You can find entrances to Galerie Véro-Dodat at 19 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau and 2 Rue Bouloi, in the 1st arrondissement, near the Louvre.
Closest Metro station: Louvre – Rivoli
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 7 am to 10 pm.
Passage Bourg l’Abbe
Built in 1828, this covered passage was originally longer than it is now, but the Haussmann redesign of central Paris enveloped some of its previous footprint.
What’s it like? It has a lovely grand entrance and some very handsome wood panelling on the shop fronts, which included some furniture antiques and a café. However, many units were empty and there were hardly any shoppers, so it felt somewhat lifeless.
Where is it: You can find entrances to Passage du Bourg at 3 Rue de Palestro and Rue Saint-Denis, in the 2nd arrondissement.
Closest Metro station: Étienne Marcel
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 7:30 am to 7:30 pm.
Covered Passages In Paris – With Niche Appeal
This category of covered passages may appeal to some people more than others or at certain times more than others due to the type of shop or eaterie that you’ll find there.
Passage des Princes – Toys
Passages des Princes was the last covered passage built in Paris, in 1860. It was then destroyed in 1985 and restored in 1995.
What’s it like? It has an ugly modern entrance on Boulevard des Italiens, but inside the design is quite pleasant, with period features and an attractive stained glass dome in the middle. However, it has niche appeal because the shops there are all children’s toys, scale models and video games.
Where is it: You can find entrances to Passage des Princes at 5 Boulevard des Italiens and 97 Rue de Richelieu, in the 2nd arrondissement.
Closest Metro station: Richelieu Drouot
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 8 am-8 pm.
Passage Brady – South Asian Cuisine
Built in 1828, Passage Brady is also known as Little India and is one of the few covered passages I found which is open in the evening.
What’s it like? It feels like an extension of the streets around it – home to a mix of businesses and more about function than form. As well as hairdressers and a nail salon, there are a number of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Mauritian and Reunion restaurants, so it could be a good destination if you’re in the mood for South-Asian cuisine.
Where is it: You can find entrances to Passage Brady at 46 Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis and Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin, in the 10th arrondissement.
Closest Metro station: Château d’Eau
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 9.30 am to 11.30 pm; Sunday, 6 pm to 11.30 pm.
Passage Puteaux – Restaurants
Opened in 1839, at 29 meters, this is the shortest of the covered passages of Paris.
What’s it like? It does retain some charming original features, including a section of a glass roof. However, it only has restaurants in its units, so it’s likely to be a destination only if you want to go to eat out at one of them.
Where is it: You can find entrances to Passage Puteaux at 28 rue Pasquier and 33 rue de l’Arcade, in the 8th arrondissement.
Closest Metro station: Saint-Augustin
Opening times: Monday to Friday, 7 am to 7 pm
Cité Berryer / Le Village Royal – Luxury Retail
What’s it like? Well, the first thing to say is, I first found a reference to this place on a list of covered passages in Paris, but it’s not really a covered passage – only a small part of this shopping area is covered! It is very pretty, though and houses some luxury brands, including Dior and Chanel, so could be a good one to check out if you’re in the market for luxury shopping.
Where is it: You can find entrances to Cité Berryer / Le Village Royal at 24 Rue Boissy d’Anglas or 25 Rue Royale, in the 8th arrondissement.
Closest Metro station: Madeleine or Concorde
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 7 pm
Passage du Havre – Modern Mall-style Shopping
This covered passage is different to many of the others because Passage du Havre was completely rebuilt in the 1990s.
What’s it like? It’s got an attractive circular glass ceiling in the centre of this small t-shaped passage, but other than this, Passage du Havre looks just like a modern shopping centre, so I’d only recommend it if you’re in the mood for mall-style shopping, including Sephora and Maison du Monde (although Printemps is nearby and is arguably a more magnetic shopping destination than this one).
Where is it: You can find entrances to Passage du Havre at 109 rue Saint-Lazare and 69 Rue de Caumartint, in the 9th arrondissement.
Closest Metro station: Saint-Lazare
Opening times: Monday-Wednesday and Saturday, 9.30 am to 8 pm; Thursday-Friday, 9.30 am to 8.30 pm; Sunday, 11 am to 7 pm
Covered Passages In Paris That I Don’t Recommend
These are the covered passages I visited but don’t think are worth the effort for you to visit. This is for a range of reasons, but mainly because there’s not much in them or they’re a bit run-down and unpleasant to spend time in (unfortunately some parts of Paris are not beautiful and glamourous: something to expect if you want to avoid Paris Syndrome).
- Galerie de la Madeline: it definitely does have some attractive style, but so many of the units are empty at the time of writing, plus the only other people there were on a fag break or begging – so I can’t recommend it for a visit. There just isn’t enough to see or do there.
- Passage Sainte Anne: this is really just a (connecting) walkway, which contains only boarded up shops. It does connect Rue Sainte-Anne with Passage Choiseul, though, so you can see it if you visit that passage – but it isn’t a worthy destination in and of itself.
- Passage Des 2 Pavillions: this is simply tiny: there’s only a just a workshop and a pain quotidian branch, so there isn’t much to make a special visit for! However, it is just across the street from Galerie Vivienne and Galerie Colbert, so you could pop your head in if you’re curious.
- Passage du Caire: this long covered passage feels quite depressing because it is clearly neglected and run-down. There are some cheap fashion and food places, but much of it is empty and bare (and not somewhere I enjoyed walking through).
- Passage du Ponceau: also neglected and a bit seedy. There is a greasy spoon café and not much else. The area around it is a little rough, also (Rue Saint-Denis has a reputation for prostitution)
- Passage Moliere: not far from the Les Halles shopping district is a small shopping passage – but it’s not really covered (only a tiny portion is) and many of the units are empty.
- Passage du Prado: this is in one of the more dodgy-feeling areas of Paris, with lots of men hanging around outside (which often tends to make me nervous as a female solo traveller). The passage has some cheap phone shops near the entrance, was pretty dark and dingy – and to be honest I didn’t even want to walk in.
Map: Covered Passages in Paris
Here’s a map of the covered passages in Paris:
Covered Passages In Paris That Are Clustered Together
As you will see in the map above, there are several clusters of covered passages in Paris, which can easily be visited together.
- Passages Verdeau, Jouffroy and Panoramas run on from one another in a long line, so you could enjoy them all one after the other, either starting in the north with Passage Verdeau or in the south with Panoramas.
- Galerie Colbert, Galerie Vivienne and Passage Des 2 Pavillions are all very close to each other, with entrances on Rue des Petits Champs.
- Passage Bourg l’Abbe ends and Passage du Grand Cerf starts almost opposite each other on Rue Saint-Denis.
If you end up visiting a covered passage in Paris, I hope you enjoy it!
Let me know if you have any favourites in the comments below.