Exploring the Historic Passages and Galleries of the 2nd Arrondissement
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
My first trip to Paris almost didn't happen. We were scheduled to fly out of D.C on 9/13/2001... We did finally make it a few days later and I’ve been in traveling to Paris ever since. Every time I go, I discover something new to love. One of my discoveries was the covered passages. These historic passages and galleries were built during the late 18th century to the mid-19th century and only 24 out of the original 150 are still standing. These tucked-away gems offer a serene escape from the bustling crowds of well-known tourist sites. Here a few of my favorites in the 2nd arrondissement.
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Things to do in Paris
In the 9th arrondissement, bordering the 2nd, Passage Jouffroy is one of the most enchanting passages in Paris. Home to the Musée Grévin wax museum open since 1882, this passage boasts a variety of shops, from jewelry and gift shops to a quaint toy store and a charming second-hand bookstore. Notably, it holds the distinction of being the largest covered passage, inaugurated in 1847, and one of the last to be created. Recognized as a historical monument in 1974 and rejuvenated in 1987, Passage Jouffroy continues to exude its timeless charm. Accessible from the Richelieu-Drouot or Grands Boulevards metro stations on Lines 8 and 9 respectively.
Start at one of the four entrances – no11 Boulevard Montmartre, no10 Rue Saint-Marc, no38 Rue Vivienne, and no158 Rue Montmartre – Passage des Panoramas claims the title of the oldest covered passage in Paris. Classified as a historical monument in 1974 and restored in the 1960s, this passage holds an array of restaurants, bistros and cafes. Accessible from the Grands Boulevards metro station on Lines 8 and 9, as well as the Bourse station on Line 3.
You can enter Galerie Vivienne from Rue des Petits Champs and it immediately captivates visitors with its splendor. Constructed in 1823 and inaugurated in 1826, this passage has retained its elegance over the centuries. Galerie Vivienne offers a charming ensemble of cafes, bookshops, and collectible stores specializing in stamps, coins, postcards, and more. A noteworthy feature is the spiral staircase at no13, which leads to the former residence of Eugène François Vidocq – a criminal turned famous criminalist whose life story inspired Victor Hugo. Accessible from the Bourse metro station on Line 3 and the Palais-Royal station on Line 1.
Beginning at 2 rue Vivienne, Galerie Colbert is a prime example of architectural beauty. Built in the 1820s and classified as a historical monument in 1974, this passage's allure lies in its intricate design including a majestic 15-meter-high rotunda. At the entrance is the renowned Grand Colbert brasserie, celebrated for its art deco style. While this Galerie Colbert may not host shops, its aesthetic allure draws visitors seeking to bask in its grandeur. Accessible from the Bourse metro station on Line 3.
Passage Choiseul holds the distinction of being the longest covered passage in Paris. Built in 1826-27, it was classified as a historical monument in 1974 and was recently revitalized, reopening its doors in 2013. A highlight of this passage's history is the 1855 opening of the Theatre des Bouffres Parisiens, specializing in puppet shows. Passage Choiseul currently houses an array of boutiques, including fashion stores, jewelry shops, arts and crafts outlets and inviting restaurants. Accessible from the Pyramides metro on Line 7 or Quatre-Septembre and Bourse on Line 10.
Places to eat & drink in Paris
Certified Café - Stop in for a coffee when going through Passage des Panoramas.
Frenchie - The menu is guided by what products are available seasonally and therefore it's ever changing. Definitely worth going for dinner.
L'Absinthe - Immerse yourself in the ambiance indoors, where the décor weaves tales of its own or bask in the outdoors, savoring delectable dishes while indulging in some people watching.
Breizh Café - Known for their authentic buckwheat galettes and mouthwatering crepes. Try a chilled cider to top of your traditional Breton meal. I'll definitely be back!
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Briana Masson’s guide, An Extended Guide to Paris.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Paris.