If you’re visiting Paris, you might be looking for something unusual to do in Paris besides seeing the Eiffel Tower. Either way, you will not want to miss the arcades of Paris. In my time living in Paris, I loved getting lost in the covered passages in Paris, which retain an air of magic and make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
This free self-guided walking tour through Paris should give you glimpse into the secret Paris that Parisians know, love, and guard with their lives. This walk through the covered passages of Paris includes some of Paris’ most beautiful passages, including Passage Verdeau, Galerie Vivienne, and Passage des Panoramas as well as some off the beaten path attractions.
This free walking tour of the covered passages in Paris is about 4 kilometers total and it should take you about an hour without stopping, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
You’re better off doing your walk through the Paris arcades prior to 5pm on a weekday if possible as shops might close after 5pm and it will be less crowded. Plan for about 2-3 hours if you follow this itinerary with stopping off to take photos.
*PRINTABLE MAP OF COVERED PASSAGES AT BOTTOM WITH STEP-BY-STEP DIRECTIONS* You can also do this route in reverse very easily. 😉
Starting point of the walk
Lunch or dinner at Le Bouillon Chartier
Within Passage Jouffroy, you’ll find the quirk factor with businesses like La Maison du Roy, specializing in antique inspired decorations, as well as Cannes Fayet, which specializes in walking sticks/canes. I also have a weakness for the miniature furniture store on the corner next to Hotel Chopin.
If you’re interested in staying in the covered passages, you can stay at Hotel Chopin, a charming boutique hotel in the middle of Passage Jouffroy with a friendly cat.
Passage des Panoramas
Unlike other Parisian covered passages, there are no stores here, but the atmosphere is a nice change. Don’t be deterred by the security guards although I’d avoid bringing a backpack if possible as it might cause issues.
Jardin du Palais Royal & Surrounding Galeries
Le Palais Royal
Although Galerie Véro-Dodat is a bit smaller than some of the other covered passages in Paris, I loved how quiet and serene it was.
Given that you’re about to enter one of the most crowded parts of Paris, enjoy this moment and the beautiful black-and-white floor marble floor tiles. Interestingly, it was one of the first galeries to have gas lighting, an achievement at the time.
There used to be more businesses in Galerie Véro-Dodat, but after after stagecoaches declined in popularity, its location close to a stagecoach hub meant that it lost a lot of businesses. There’s some clothing businesses and high-end art galleries within the gallery today.
Stop for a cocktail at Le Reset
Passage du Bourg l’Abbé & Passage du Grand Cerf
Continue walking towards Passage Molière, which differs considerably from the other galleries that you’ve seen so far. It’s not a covered passage as it’s open-air, but it has cobblestones still, which gives it an old world vibe with a twist.
It became famous for the theatre located there for many years, but you’ll find boutiques that cater to things that you never knew that you needed. I know it’s not technically a covered passage, but if you’re into secret Paris, be sure to stop in here.
Lastly, stop in at 59 Rivoli, an artist-owned building that used to be an artist squat. Now, this building has been apportioned into artist studios and every day people can stroll in most days (besides Monday) to see the artists in action.
The facade is often changing although it’s always a unique sight to behold and be sure to bring some extra cash with you as you might find some interesting art (along with stories) to bring home with you as you can discuss the work with the artists themselves.
Most of the artists ask people NOT to take photos of their work without permission, so be careful shutter-bugs when visiting this off the beaten path sight in Paris.