Galerie Colbert - Former shops windows
Former shops windows

Galerie Colbert, one of Paris’ best kept secrets

The Galerie Colbert is located in the Quartier Vivienne and is one of Paris few remaining covered passages built in the 19th century.

The 83m long Galerie Colbert connects no6 Rue des Petits Champs to nos2-4 Rue Vivienne.

It runs through the site of the mansion the architect Louis Le Vau designed for Jean-Baptiste Colbert, King Louis XIV’s finance minister.

Philippe d’Orléans, the regent of France when Louis XV was young, purchased the Hôtel de Colbert.

A group of speculators acquired the mansion in the 1820s and built the gallery to compete with the next-door Galerie Vivienne.

A lavish decoration

The architect Jacques Billaud created one of the most elegant Parisian galleries; , hence the wealth of marble columns and arcades, mosaics and crystal candelabra.

The most spectacular architectural feature was, and still is, the 15m high rotunda.

The spectacular and long gone seven gas-lit globes bronze candelabrum that adorned its glass dome was nicknamed ‘ Cocotier Lumineux –  Luminous Coconut Palm’.

Decline and revival of the Galerie Colbert

The Galerie Colbert and its luxury shops immediately became one of the trendiest meeting places in Paris.

Galerie Colbert - Christmas decoration in the rotunda
Christmas decoration in the rotunda

However, success was short-lived as businesses were under performing.

The French State bought the gallery in 1859 and left it fall slowly into oblivion and ruins, until 1974 when it was classified Historical Monument.

The French State bought the gallery in 1859.

The Bibilothèque Nationale de France – National Library purchased it in the early 1980’s and fully restored it in 1985.

There are no more shops or businesses, except a restaurant by the entrance on Rue des Petits-Champs.

Indeed, the gallery is now home to various cultural institutions (Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art – National Institute of History of Art, National Heritage Institution and others dedicated to the History of Art).

The Galerie Colbert is well worth (as the other 20 or so remaining Parisian galleries) the visit!

It is not the liveliest gallery, however, it is a little gem of architecture!

It elegance and refined decoration will seduce you.

Take a stroll off the beaten track, it’s superb and it’s next door to the equally stunning Galerie Vivienne.

Directions: 2nd district – 6 rue des Petits Champs to 2-4 rue VivienneFree access
Metro: Bourse on Line 3
Coordinates: Lat 48.866974 – Long 2.339441

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