Covered Arcades (Passages), Paris

Covered Arcades (Passages), Paris

Passage du Grand Cerf



















At the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century, a phenomenon began in Paris of building covered arcades (passages). For a time the arcades, glass-covered and highly ornamental, were the place for fashionable Parisians to shop.

Interior of Passage du Grand Cerf



















Unfortunately for the passages, the department stores like Le Bon Marché (1838), the first department store in France,  BHV (1856), Printemps (1865) and Samaritaine (1869) gradually took over from them in popularity.

Galerie Vivienne





















Some of the passages have been restored to their former glory; others haven’t been updated yet or are like the Passage du Caire, which is full of clothing wholesalers.

Passage du Caire












I found an article in The Guardian that lists and describes ten passages.

For a great novel set in this period about the rise of the department store, I recommend Emile Zola’s Au Bonheur des Dames:

Au Bonheur des Dames is the glittering Paris department store run by Octave Mouret. He had used charm and drive to become director of this mighty emporium, unscrupulously exploiting his young female staff and seducing his lady customers with luxurious displays of shimmering silks, satins, velvet and lace. Then Denise Baudu, a naive provincial girl, becomes an assistant at the store, and Mouret discovers that he in turn can also be enchanted.

The BBC series, The Paradise, was (loosely)  based on Zola’s novel.

Au Bonheur des Dames

Photographs are sourced from Wikimedia commons, with thanks

JLPC – exterior of Passage du Cerf

Ralf.treinen – interior of Passage du Cerf

Lionel Allorge – Galerie Vivienne

Ralf.treinen – Passage du Caire

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