Covered Galleries: A History


Covered Galleries: Throwback to the 1900s

Tucked in the busy streets of Paris are portholes into the past. Near Opéra and Strasbourg-Saint Denis are small alleyways filled with shops and restaurants, all in the 1800s style. They are called les Passages Couverts, or the covered galleries in English. As I walk through the covered galleries I feel like an old piano should be playing in the background, the ones that no one plays and where music just comes out of it. I feel like I opened a portal to the past. And then I remember that the beauty of these covered galleries are why I chose to live in Paris.

19th Century Shortcuts

Paris is known for its rain. Winter or summer you are going to get rain. So in the late 1700s and early 1800s passageways with glass ceilings were built to connect one boulevard to the other. This allowed for people to walk in the streets and shop without getting wet or cold. And of course the glass ceilings allow for natural lighting.

Passage des Panoramas

Predecessors to Modern Day Malls

Before those large shopping malls were department stores, and before department stores were galleries. The covered galleries of Paris allowed for people to go shopping in once central location. Most galleries had stores and bistros and you could easily walk from one gallery to another.

Passage des Panoramas


During Haussman's renovations of Paris, many covered galleries were destroyed and something else was built in its place. Before the renovations there were over 100 galleries, today the number counts into the twenties. And because the Grands Magasins (department stores) were expanding, there was less need for the covered galleries. Most of the galleries were located around the Grands Boulevards, where Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayettes stand today.

Passage de Jouffroy

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