In the early 19th century, Paris was a muddy and often impassable city, especially on foot and in cold weather.
The architects of the capital thus invented a stratagem to allow the bourgeoisie and aristocrats to stroll, shop, go to the theatre and go out to dinner without getting their clothes dirty and at any time, thanks also to the introduction of electricity: they created the passages couverts, i.e. streets whose vaults were closed off by iron and glass roofs.
This made it possible to frequent the centre whatever the weather and to admire the shop windows in total peace. Several of them sprung up on the rive droite and still today they exert a timeless charm, picturesque corners that should not be missed.
ADDRESS: n°19 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Strolling through this gallery will feel like you’ve stepped back in time: everything here is as original as it was in the 19th century, skylights, gas lamps, Corinthian-style columns and black and white chequered flooring.
And to evoke the retro atmosphere even more you will find jewellers, art galleries, antique and music shops.
It is certainly one of the most stately and sophisticated passages in Paris, thanks to its elegant shop windows, glass vaults and finely decorated floor.
In addition, the gallery boasts bas-reliefs depicting lutes, symbol of harmony, anchors for hope, snakes for prudence, scales for justice, cockerels for alertness and anchors for hope.
Among the various shops to visit are a colourful florist, a charming wine shop and an old bookshop.
Built in 1823, the Galerie Colbert is just a few steps away from its main rival, the Galerie Vivienne: it belongs to the Bibliothèque Nationale and, unlike other Parisian arcades, has no shops.
Oriented towards culture, this gallery houses the Institut Nationale d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA) and the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP). However, it is open to the public to give access to its magnificent rotunda topped by a glass dome.
The Art Nouveau brasserie Le Grand Colbert has been classified as a historical monument and is located at the entrance to the gallery.
Built in 1799, it is the oldest covered passageway in Paris and its construction was inspired by the Moroccan souks, to allow people to stroll around without getting dirty.
In reality, it is not a single covered alley but a series of passages where electric lighting was first installed in 1807: in fact, the Panoramas also crosses other passages, the Galerie des Variétés, the Galerie Feydeau, the Galerie Montmartre and the Galerie Saint Marc all built later, in 1830.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
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