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Passage du Bourg l’Abbé

The Passage du Bourg l’Abbé was built in 1828, and today it’s really just a shadow of it’s former self. It still retains the charm of times gone by however, the wooden shop fronts and the rounded glass roof are lovely. I rather like it, there’s something a bit mournful about it, it’s usually empty and you still can see remnants of it’s past life – a couple of old fashioned shops and even a workshop.

However it feels like a new life is bubbling under the surface, there are two very cool artisan shops recently opened, and you get the impression that a new beginning is just around the corner. Only 43m long, it’s still worth a walk through, especially as it’s just opposite the gorgeous Passage du Grand Cerf which is one of my absolute favourites.

  • Passage Bourg l’Abbé, 120 rue St Denis or 3 rue de Palestro, 75002 Paris. metro: Etienne Marcel

Open Monday – Saturday 07:30 – 19:30

Passage des Panoramas

I seem to be spending a lot of time in the covered passages around Paris at the moment, but as the days get shorter and colder they are lovely places to escape the chill. Recently I discovered the Passage des Panoramas, and was lucky enough that it was lunchtime, as it’s packed full with cafés and restaurants and is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat.

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Built in 1800, the Passage des Panoramas is the oldest of the covered passages in Paris. Like many of the others it feels like a tiny village hidden within the city. There’s a great choice of restaurants, many of them with tables spilling out into the passageway. It’s lively and full of atmosphere. And the food is pretty good too!

There’s a gluten free restaurant, grocery shop and take away – NoGlu – quite rare in France, that also has a bakery opposite. Of course we couldn’t resist a cake, or two…

There are also several shops to browse. If you’re nearby and it’s around lunch or tea time, drop in for a visit and something to eat, and then pop over to the Passage des Princes just nearby, especially if you have children, as it’s full of toy shops.

  • Passage des Panoramas, 11 Boulevard Montmartre / 158 Boulevard Montmartre / 10 rue St Marc / 38 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris. metro: Grands Boulevards

Open daily 06:00 – midnight.

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Passage des Princes

The Passage des Princes is a lovely place to visit at this time of the year. Not only is it very beautiful, it is also completely full of toy shops.

Built in 1860, this was the last covered passage built under the Haussmann era. It was destroyed in 1985 but has since been completely rebuilt using the original elements, including a gorgeous 1930’s glass dome.

I went in yesterday and it was full of children. The glass roof lets in the winter light and you can see the beautiful buildings around it through the transparence of the roof. It’s a short walk away from the big department stores, and just round the corner from the Passage des Panoramas, another beautiful passage and a great place for lunch.

  • Passage des Princes, 5 boulevard des Italiens / 97 rue de Richelieu, 75002 Paris. metro: Grands Boulevards

 

Passage du Grand Cerf

The Passage du Grand Cerf was built in 1825 and has a beautiful glass roof that is 12 metres high, meaning it is always flooded with light.

Home nowadays to many wonderful artisan boutiques, it’s a lovely place to visit and shop – choose between hand tailored clothes made to measure, knitting supplies, a shop selling only gorgeous socks made in France, hand made jewellery and much more. It also houses an excellent restaurant, le Pas Sage, just at the front entrance.

Add this one to your list if you are doing a walking tour of the covered passages, it’s charming and crammed full with treasures.

  • Passage du Grand Cerf, 145 rue St Denis or 8 rue Dussoubs, 75002 Paris. Métro Etienne Marcel

Galerie Colbert

If you’re visiting the Galerie Vivienne make sure you pop next door and take a look at the Galerie Colbert, number 3 in my series on the covered passages of Paris. The glass coupole is 15 metres in diameter, at the time an amazing feat of architecture, and still very beautiful today.

Built in 1826 and riding on the popularity of the nearby Galerie Vivienne and the Palais Royal, it was very successful until 1836 when a general clean up of the area got rid of the gambling and prostitution that drew so many to it. Falling into disrepair, it was even used as a garage in the 1970’s and was condemned for demolition in 1975. It was eventually listed as a historic monument and saved along with it’s neighbour, but was in such a bad state it had to be completely rebuilt.

Now it is occupied by the National History of Art Institute, and the Sorbonne University also holds various classes here.

  • Galerie Colbert. 2 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris. Metro: Bourse

Ice cream at Pierre Hermé

We’ve been back to Pierre Hermé, it’s hard to stay away…!
As the weather is so beautiful we decided to try the ice cream – I’ve been wanting to for a while, especially as it has such a fantastic name. Miss Gla Gla: ice cream in French is ‘glace’, and ‘gla gla’ is what tiny French children (or cartoon characters!) say when they are cold.

I chose Ispahan, which was originally the macaroon flavour which contributed to making him famous: rose, litchi and raspberry.

What can I say?

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It’s sandwiched between 2 thin layers of macaroon and needless to say is amazingly delicious. Sitting on a shady bench on the square by St Sulpice Church on a Saturday afternoon and eating this was a real treat.

Miss Gla Gla is available all summer and there are several fantastic flavours to choose from, so don’t miss out!

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Pierre Hermé

  • 72 rue Bonparte, 75006 Paris. Metro: St Sulpice
  • 4 rue Cambon, 75001 Paris. Metro: Concorde
  • 39 avenue de l’Opera, 75002 Paris. Metro: Pyramides or Opera

 

Galerie Vivienne

Built in 1823, the Galerie Vivienne is probably the most elegant and luxurious of the ‘Passages Couverts’, remaining in Paris. Of the original 150, there now remain only about 20, situated mainly on the Right Bank around the Grands Boulevards, and each with it’s own character and charm.

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Nestled in the passageways between two buildings, they usually have glass roofs, and were built as commercial galleries, protecting 19th century shoppers from the rain. After falling into disrepair for many years, and many being destroyed in Hausmann’s reorganization of the city, they are now once again filled with artisan and designer shops, high end boutiques, cafés and even workshops.

The Galerie Vivienne is a wonderful place to wander through, whatever the weather. Don’t miss the magnificent mosaic floors, made by Facchina, and if you have time stop and have a drink at one of the café terraces inside, so you can linger and enjoy the beautiful light filtering through the glass roof.

  •  Galerie Vivienne. 6 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris. Metro: Bourse

The best macaroons in Paris?

As far as I am concerned, Pierre Hermé is the king of macaroons, and believe me I have tried many…

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His shops are like tiny jewel boxes, filled with a mouth watering array of beautiful coloured gems, especially the one on the rue Bonaparte. He also makes the most beautiful and delicious cakes and chocolates, but the macaroons are what most people go for. Flavours change regularly with the seasons, so you can go often and never get bored. The thing that amazes me the most is how you can taste each flavour separately within often quite a complex mix, and yet they all harmonize together perfectly.

If you buy them in the shop on rue Cambon it’s just across from the Tuileries gardens, a perfect place to find a seat and enjoy them. If you’re at rue Bonaparte, the square outside St Sulpice church just opposite is lovely, and the café staff don’t seem to mind people having a coffee and eating them in there or on their terrace.

And this year I have discovered something even better, if you are a regular visitor to Paris, each month he brings out a new flavour in a series called ‘Les Jardins’. These are all based on fruit and flowers, and each time you buy one you get a card with it’s picture on. It’s a nice way to be encouraged to try new flavours, some strange sounding ones that I may have otherwise hesitated over turned out to be surprising discoveries!

Pierre Hermé

  • 72 rue Bonparte, 75006 Paris.  Metro: St Sulpice
  • 4 rue Cambon, 75001 Paris.  Metro: Concorde
  • 39 avenue de l’Opera, 75002 Paris.  Metro: Pyramides or Opera

Where to buy Pierre Hermé macarons