20 Secret Passages in Paris Revealed

Tucked away from the busy boulevards you’ll find secret passages in Paris. These Paris hidden passages were built in the early 19th century and are undeniably charming.

The city of Paris and I go way back – nine times, to be precise. It’s more than a favourite; it’s my love affair. And amidst those countless strolls along the Seine and beneath the Eiffel Tower, I’ve discovered something truly magical – the secret passages.

Rainy day in Paris? No problem, take shelter in these lovely hidden passages Paris offers. Browse the delightful French vintage shops. Gaze upon the incredible architectural details of glass ceilings, iron latticework, and mosaic-tiled floors.

Dear traveller, if you love to explore beyond the usual tourist hotspots, you’re in the right place. These hidden gems in Paris are perfect for those who crave off-the-beaten-path experiences like me.

This is your guide to:

  • where to find the secret covered passages in Paris, by arrondissement
  • which are the best ones to seek out (like Galerie Vero-Dodat) and which ones I recommend you don’t visit (like Passage Vendôme)

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The History Behind Les Passages Couverts Parisien

The covered passages of Paris, or passages couverts, were mostly built during the first half of the early 19th century.

By 1850, there were approximately 150 covered passages in Paris but that number was vastly reduced during the Haussmann reconstruction of Paris in the late 19th century.

Considered an early form of a shopping mall they all shared common characteristics in their design – glass ceilings and pedestrian-only laneways lit by gas lamps, connecting two streets. They are lined with small shops, each ornately designed with beautiful details. 

books in wood bookshelves in les passages de paris

Today, only a couple dozen of these 19th-century Paris arcades remain, and almost all are on the right bank. This is what makes these secret-covered passages fun to seek out, giving you a window into the past.

Wondering what romantic things to do in Paris? This just might be the loveliest way to spend some time. There’s a certain allure to these hidden arcades that keeps me visiting them over and over again, rain or shine.

These passages have become my go-to escape on those busy Parisien afternoons as time seems to slow down as you stroll through them. I recommend them for anyone visiting Paris for a week to include in their itinerary.

History Buffs: Go on a Passages Couverts Parisien Walking Tour

For cultured travellers like me, who are keen on knowing more about these hidden gems, why not go on a walking tour where you get to hear even more interesting tales about these legendary Paris gems?

I’ve done the self-guided audio tour and for the minimal price, it’s worth it.

Next time I’m in Paris I’m going to do the group tour as I think this would be a great solo travel experience.

Covered Passages in Paris in the 1st Arrondissement

1. Les Passages des Deux Pavillons

passage with lanterns and black moulding in a passage couvert paris

Known as the smallest in Paris, Passages des deux Pavillons was built in 1820. It’s often overlooked, and not as grand, but it has an interesting history.

Until 1826, the passageway was straight and led you directly to Galerie Colbert. The owner of Galerie Vivienne, its competitor, purchased it and reconstructed it so that you have a direct line of sight to his shopping arcade when you exit. This crooked passageway is now part of its charm. 

If you are in Paris for the weekend, visit on a Sunday around 4 pm, as I did, and you’ll be able to hear the local opera singers come to warm up their vocal cords due to the great acoustics this alleyway offers. 

  • 📍6 rue de Beaujolais and 5 rue des Petits Champs
  • ⭐My Tip: Combine a visit here with a visit to Palais-Royal Gardens and the nearby Galerie Véro-Dodat

2. Galerie Vero-Dodat

store with red velvet drapes in secret covered passages paris

Galerie Véro-Dodat was built in 1826 and is full of Parisien charm.

The black and white checkerboard floor gives you the illusion that this covered passage is long, yet it’s not.

This covered passage houses many elegant boutiques – from antiques to decorations to art. Fashionistas will know that Galerie Vero-Dodat is home to designer Christian Louboutin’s workshop. And, yes his store is still here!

  • 📍19 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau and 2 rue du Bouloi
  • ⭐My Tip: Combine this with visiting the Louvre

Paris Covered Passages in the 2nd Arrondissement

3. Passage du Bourg l’Abbe

Built in 1828, between Les Passage du Grand Cerf and Les Passage de l’Ancre, is Passage du Bourg l’Abbé.

Most of the passages in Paris have a pitched ceiling with a rotunda at the centre. Not this one.

This covered passage is a bit unique in that it’s a single stretch with a slight curve from one entryway to the other. Another interesting detail to look out for is the original and still working barometer and clock at opposite ends.

There are not a lot of shops in this passage, except one very interesting one – Lulli & Sons, established in 1965 which is a woodworking shop.

man standing in woodworking shop in secret passages in paris

The sculpteur, Ivan Lulli, invited me in for a tour. En français, he told me he is the last cabinetmaker or sculptor in central Paris after taking over the business from his father. He works on both small and large projects and his work can be found in galleries in the city like at Place des Vosges in Le Marais.

His signature piece is a music note, which combines his other passion, music. Ivan is curious about me and in very broken French I reciprocate and share my love of Paris and travel. Merci Ivan, et à bientôt.

  • 📍120 rue Saint-Denis and 3 rue de Palestro
  • ⭐My Tip: Combine your visit here with the Passage du Grand Cerf

4. Passage Choiseul

paris arcade with signs and glass vaulted ceiling with people walking in paris covered passages

Passage Choiseul, built in 1826 and 1827, is considered the longest covered passage. It feels a bit more modern than others.

Shops for art, books, jewelry, vintage clothing, and many eateries. In 1855, composer James Offenbach opened Threatre des Bouffres Parisiens to house opera and operettas with the entrance being in the arcade, which is still here to this day. 

  • 📍40 rue des Petits-Champs, and rue Saint-Augustin and rue Dalayrac
  • ⭐My Tip: Combine your visit with Galerie Colbert and Galerie Vivienne

5. Galerie Colbert

glass dome with statue in secret passages in paris

Galerie Colbert, built in 1826, belongs to Bibliothèque Nationale and houses national cultural institutes.

Unlike other Paris passages, there are no shops here. Still, you’ll want to visit this pretty Parisien arcade to see the incredible rotunda topped with a glass dome and statue.

Dine at the historic Le Grand Colbert brasserie and gaze upon the amazing art nouveau style details.

It’s often the restaurant of choice for any major cultural events in the city, including Paris Fashion Week. 

  • 📍6 rue des Petits-Champs and 2 rue Vivienne
  • ⭐My Tip: Combine your visit with Passage Choiseul and Galerie Vivienne

6. Passage du Grand Cerf

tall passage with iron glass ceiling with checkered floor in covered passages paris

The Passage du Grand Cerf, built in 1825, is the tallest covered arcade in Paris at almost 12 metres.

Gaze upon the intricate glass roof made of metal and wrought iron as you stroll through this passage. Be on the lookout for the different animal motifs here.

The wooden stag’s head, or cerf, is easy to spot, the others you will notice above the independent shops – an elephant, crab, and dragonfly were among some I noticed.

This must-see covered passage has some pretty shops – jewelry, antiques, and furniture.

  • 📍145 rue Saint-Denis and 10 rue Dussoubs
  • ⭐My Tip: Combine your visit here with Passage Molière and the hidden garden of Anne Frank

7. Les Passage des Panoramas

Mere steps away from the Grands Boulevards is the Passage des Panoramas built in 1800.

This covered passage is unique in that it crosses through the 2nd and 9th arrondissements.

It’s wonderfully charming with such a vintage feel. I love the wrought iron signs suspended over the storefronts and eateries. And, this Paris passage boasts a lot of options for foodies, including wine bars.

Passage des Panoramas is so iconic that it appeared in Emile Zola’s 1880 book, ‘Nana’. This is a popular arcade to visit in Paris and always draws a crowd for its amazing eateries. 

  • 📍10 rue Saint-Marc, 11 boulevard Montmartre, 38 rue Vivienne, 151 rue Montmartre
  • ⭐My Tip: Combine this here with your visit to Les Passages Jouffroy & Verdeau and stroll the nearby romantic rue de l’Abreuvior

8. Galerie Vivienne

The iconic Galerie Vivienne opened in 1823.

You can’t help but fall in love with the pretty details here – the mosaic tile floor and beautiful glass roof. Light pours through the glass canopy roof even on the dreariest of days. It’s easy to see why this is known as one of the best Parisien covered passages in the city

There are many wonderful shops to stroll through. An old bookshop, art gallery, fabric, and antique shop to name a few. I especially like to come here at Christmas time to see it under the glow of twinkle lights.

Sit and stay awhile in one of the cafés or lovely tea room. This is a must-see passage in Paris. 

  • 📍4 rue des Petits-Champs; 6 rue Vivienne and 5 rue de la Banque
  • ⭐My Tip: Combine your visit here with Passage Choiseul and Galerie Colbert and a visit to one of Paris’ prettiest gardens, Palais Royal

More Hidden Passages Paris Has (that I don’t recommend)

These aren’t as glamorous, and appear to be neglected, run down and dated. But if you are still curious to see more, seek out these in the 2nd arrondissement:

  • #9 Passage du Caire (1798) can found at multiple streets: 33 rue d’Alexandrie; 2 place du Caire; 237-239 rue Saint-Denis; 14, 34 and 44 rue du Caire
  • #10 Passage du Ponceau (1826) is located at 119 Boulevard de Sébastopol and 212 rue Saint-Denis
  • #11 Passage Princes (1860) can be found at 5 Boulevard des Italiens and 97-99 rue de Richelieu
  • #12 Passage Sainte-Anne (1829) is located at 59-61 rue Sainte-Anne and Passage Choiseul

Covered Passages of Paris in the 3rd Arrondissement

13. Passage Moliere

colourful buildings down a laneway covered passages in paris

Passage Molière isn’t technically a covered passage, it’s an open-air laneway.

It does have an interesting history. It was created with the opening of the Molière Theatre in 1791. The artists used this laneway to enter and exit the theatre out of sight of the public.

Today, this tiny passage is full of cute colourful shops making it a true hidden spot in Le Marais that’s worth visiting

  • 📍82 rue Quincampoix and 157, 159, 161 rue Saint-Martin
  • ⭐My Tip: Combine your visit here with Passage du Chef and the landmark art gallery of Centre Pompidou

Another Paris Covered Passage (that I don’t recommend)

  • #14 Passage Vendôme (1827) located at 16 rue Béranger and 3 place de la République 

Covered Passage Paris in the 6th Arrondissement

15. Cour du Commerce Saint Andre

Cour du Commerce Saint Andre is known as one of the oldest passages built in 1776. It is also where you can find one of the oldest restaurants in Paris, Le Procope. Stroll through here and you can just feel the history.

This hidden gem of Paris runs along a former 12th-century fortified wall. It is also one of the few streets in Paris that have retained their original cobblestones.

Cour du Commerce Saint Andre is also the only remaining passage on the left bank making it one of the best things to do in Saint Germain.

  • 📍59 rue Saint-André-des-Arts, 21 rue de l’Ancienne-Comédie and 130 boulevard Saint-Germain
  • ⭐My Tip: Combine this with visiting some of Saint Germain’s best attractions like the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the Boulevard of Saint-Germain with its iconic cafes of Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore

Paris Covered Passages in the 8th Arrondissement

16. Passage Puteaux

Considered to be one of the shortest of the passages couverts in Paris that opened in 1839.

At first glance, I didn’t realize it was a covered passage. With two restaurants serving as bookends, and a couple more in between, I simply thought it was a fancy Parisien food court.

  • 📍28 rue Pasquier and 33 rue de l’Arcade
  • ⭐My Tip: Combine this with some shopping at the iconic Galeries Lafayette Haussmann and Printemps Haussmann

Covered Passages Paris in the 9th Arrondissement

17. Les Passages Jouffroy & Verdeau

staircase with library with covered passage in paris

The Passage Jouffroy, built in 1845, is unique in that it offers two passages in one, as Passage Verdeau was added as an extension. 

Passage Jouffroy is known as the first to be built entirely of metal and glass and heated by the ground.

The main draw to visiting this pretty arcade is Librairie du Passage, one of the oldest bookshops in Paris. Dating back to the 1850s, this tiny vintage store is filled to the brim with books. Books even spill out into the marble floors that line the perimeter of the shop. Booklover or not, you can’t help but fall under its spell.

Another gem is to visit the Valentin Team Room for that ultimate afternoon tea experience in Paris.

  • 📍10-12 boulevard Montmartre and 9 rue de la Grange-Batelière
  • ⭐My Tip: Combine this with Passage des Panoramas which is directly across the street

Paris Covered Passages (that I don’t recommend)

Other covered passages in the 9th arrondissement that you may wish to seek out include:

  • #18 Passage du Havre (1845) can be found at 69 rue de Caumartin and 109 rue Saint-Lazare
  • #19 Passage Brady (1828) is located at streets 43 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin; 22 boulevard de Strasbourg; 33 boulevard de Strasbourg (covered section); 46 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis
  • #20 Passage Prado (1830) can be found at 16 Boulevard Saint-Denis and 16 Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis

FAQ About Secret Passages in Paris

glass ceiling with shops with covered passages paris

Are the covered passages in Paris worth visiting?

Yes, the covered passages in Paris are hidden gems worth exploring. These 19th-century shopping arcades showcase the city’s rich heritage and elegant architecture. Strolling through Galerie Vivienne and Passage des Panoramas is like taking a step back in time, where you can imagine the hustle and bustle of a vibrant commercial district from the past.

What are the oldest passages in Paris?

The oldest passages in Paris are Passage du Caire (1798), Passage des Panoramas (1800), and Galerie Vivienne (1823) which are still open to the public today.

What are the best covered passages in Paris?

Some of the best covered passages in Paris are the Galerie Vivienne, Passage des Panoramas, Galerie Colbert, and Passage du Grand Cerf, among others.

As a Holidaymaker

Finding these secret covered passages is one of the best things to do in Paris.

They are like windows into the past. Strolling through these off-the-beaten-path arcades are glimpses into quintessential Parisien life. They ooze with charm and it’s one of my favourite things to do when in Paris. 

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