During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Paris saw great technological developments and the rise of the bourgeoisie society. Accordingly, these phenomena led to the creation of shopping malls in the city. The first shopping malls in Paris were covered with glass and iron arcades, designed to provide a dry place for customers during rainy and muddy days. There were around 150 arcades during the early 19th century; however, only a few could survive until today. Here are the best-preserved shopping arcades in Paris.
Built in 1823, Galerie Vivienne was one of the most luxurious arcades in Paris. The passage has beautiful storefronts and exquisite mosaic floors made by Italian artisans inspired by the Rue de Rivoli. Additionally, the arcade’s architect François-Jacques Delannoy added Neoclassical elements through the canopy, paintings, and sculptures. Today the Galerie Vivienne contains luxury boutiques, bookshops, fabric stores, and lovely bistros.
Passage des Panoramas
Passage de Panoramas is one of the oldest arcades in Paris, built in 1799. It was also the first arcade to have gas lighting. The name of the place comes from two rotundas that stood at the entrance, showing panoramic cityscapes. However, they were destroyed during the renovations in 1831.
Built in 1846, Passage Jouffroy was initially an extension of the Passage des Panoramas. The passage was the first entirely iron and glass arcade in Paris, and also the first one to have an under-floor heating system.
Galerie Colbert, built in 1823, is currently home to the National Institute of Art History and the National Heritage Institute. The most prominent part of the gallery is probably the vast rotunda topped by a glass dome. There used to be a bronze candelabra bearing a crown of seven crystal globes called the “luminous coconut tree” at the center of the rotunda. Later, a statue of Eurydice took its place.
Passage Verdeau was one of the latest examples of shopping arcades in Paris, built in 1847. It was an extension of two other arcades, namely the passages of Panoramas and Jouffroy. The passage has an exquisite atmosphere with aligned cafes, bookstores, and antique shops as well as its neoclassical glass roof and the pale pink and black stone floors.