Passage des Panoramas – Grands Boulevards

The Passage des Panoramas is one of the few remaining covered passage of Paris.

Passage des Panoramas
Passage des Panoramas

It’s also the oldest and one of the finest.

It was listed Historical Monument on July 7, 1974.

The 130m long by 3.20 m wide gallery has four entrances:

no11 Boulevard Montmartre, no10 Rue saint-Marc, no38 Rue Vivienne and no158 Rue Montmartre.

The Boulevard Montmartre is one of the Grands Boulevards.

These wide avenues follow the layout of the rampart built by Louis XIII in the early 17th century.

Louis XIV demolished it in the 1670s and replaced by wide avenues lined with trees.

These Nouveaux Cours, as they were then known, became a very popular walk with the Parisians.

Soon cabarets, inns, restaurants, theatres and open air balls opened along the walk and turned it gradually into the Parisian Mecca of entertainment.

William Thayer, the founder of the Passage des Panoramas

The growing popularity of the Grands Boulevards didn’t escape the American entrepreneur William Thayer.

In 1799 Thayer built two rotundas on the site of the Hôtel de Montmorency-Luxembourg.

This mansion had its main entrance on Boulevard Montmartre.

Passage des Panoramas restaurant

Thayer’s rotundas housed an unusual attraction.

They indeed proposed projections of the main French cities’ panoramic views or ‘panoramas’.

This attraction, that could be considered a forerunner of the cinema, became an overnight success.

The clever (and wealthy) Thayer built a covered passage, so people walking from the next door Palais-Royal could be protected from the weather!

The Passage des Panoramas was born and was another immediate hit with the public!

Indeed, it not only linked to his Panoramas and the Grands Boulevards, but it was also a stone’s throw from the Bourse and Opéra Garnier.

This success was amplified in 1807, when the Théâtre of Variétés was built at the rear of the Passage des Panoramas.

As a result, the passage became one of the first Parisian covered galleries lit with gas.

Passage des Panoramas, a listed covered gallery

However, the craze for the Panoramas slowly faded over the years.

Passage des Panoramas
Glass roof and rotunda

The rotundas were eventually demolished in 1831 because the projections had ceased to be profitable.

The passage, on the other hand, remained popular, because it was lined with a countless shops!

In 1834 the architect Grisard therefore enlarged the Passage des Panoramas with four new galleries in order to compete with the nearby Galerie Vivienne and Galerie Colbert.

Therefore, appeared the Galerie Saint-Marc, Galerie des Variétés (where the artists’ entrance is located), Galerie Feydeau and Galerie Montmartre.

The Passage des Panoramas reached its heydays when Jacques Offenbach moved to the Théâtre des Variétés.

Le Tout Paris indeed flocked to see his productions!

Even Emile Zola wrote about the passage!

Those who have read his Rougon-Macquart saga may remember that he mentioned it in his novel Nana.

Passage des Panoramas - Galerie des Varietes
Galerie des Varietes

The gallery attracted a wide array of businesses, including many philately shops.

Amazingly, most are still there.

Their windows have retained and old-fashioned charm that makes you want to step inside, even if you don’t collect stamps!

The engraver Stern opened his shop in 1824.

The premises seem vacant, but have never changed owner since!

Others shops have changed hands several times.

However, they have also retained their original decoration.

The passage is indeed a listed Historical Monument and strict rules therefore dictate the nature and style of any alteration or restoration!

The Passage des Panoramas is an ideal spot for lunch, away from the noise from the boulevard.

There is a large selection of Parisian restaurants, bistros and cafes…

Passage des Panoramas - L'Arbre à Cannelle
L’Arbre à Cannelle

Difficult to choose to be honest!

As you stroll along you’ll come across the salon de thé – restaurant L’Arbre à Cannelle.

It was set up in the old Chocolaterie Marquis (chocolate shop).

You have to stop there at least for a drink and admire its magnificent decoration; it’s a true marvel!

Stroll along, discover what the shops have to offer, enjoy the architecture and the decoration.

There’s plenty to admire!

The Passage des Panoramas is, as I wrote above, one of the finest covered galleries in Paris!

Opening hours: Everyday – 6am to midnight – Free access

Directions: 2nd district – no11 Boulevard Montmartre
Metro: Grands Boulevards on Lines 8, 9 or Bourse on Line 3
Bus: 20, 39, 48, 67, 74, et 85
Coordinates: Lat 48.871538 – Long 2.341821

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