Last Updated on 28th November 2018 by Sophie Nadeau
You’ll know when you’re in the right place when you reach a slightly ajar door. All blue paint and Haussmannian in design, it looks a little private. Beyond, colourful plants and a cobbled lane beckon you to step beyond the threshold and discover what tantalising secrets lie before you. And incredible they are. For here, in the heart of the 3rd arrondissement, you’ll find the oldest umbrella repair shop in Paris, Pep’s…
Pep’s: The Oldest Umbrella Repair Shop in Paris
Surrounded by all manner of trailing vines and potted plants, the store was first opened to the public close to fifty years ago. Today, the shop is located around half way along Passage de l’Ancre and is easy to spot thanks to its vibrant sign depicting a man holding an umbrella. Pep’s is the only store of its kind in Europe!
Since the 1960s, Pep’s Umbrella Repair shop has existed to fix all manner of ‘parapluies’. Incidentally, the French word for umbrella, ‘parapluie,’ can simply be translated as ‘against the rain!’ Allegedly, some ten thousand people per year visit the store, all in the hope of getting their umbrellas fixed!
Address | PEP’S – Passage de l’Ancre
Metro | Métro Arts-et-Métiers or Réaumur-Sébastopol
And in a city like Paris, where rainy days can be found in abundance, there’s certainly never going to be a shortage of business! Run by Monsieur Thierry Millet since the early 2000s, he also creates custom umbrellas for the most discerning of shoppers, or at the very least, those in the know!
The name ‘Pep’ itself comes from an Auvergne slang word for umbrella. And for those wondering how much it costs to get your umbrella fixed: it depends entirely on the problem! Repairs can be anything from a simple replacement rib to the complete restoration of an antique umbrella. This means that reparation fees can be anything from just a few euros to over seven hundred!
Passage de l’Ancre: The Oldest Passage in Paris
Though not covered like some of the 19th-century passageways in the city (Passage du Grand-Cerf to give just one example), it’s widely believed that the Passage de l’Ancre (Passage of the Anchor) is the oldest in the city, dating all the way back to the early 1500s.
Prior to the French Revolution, the seventy-metre long passage was known as the Passage du Puit. Between 1792 and 1805, the lane was then referred to as ‘l’Ancre National’ before being shortened to the name of today.
Situated in the very heart of Le Marais, the passage is named for an inn which once was housed here. The terrible events of 1942 saw many of the Jewish inhabitants of the road persecuted and deported during the Nazi-directed Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. The road was then largely abandoned and closed to the public until 1998.
Steps away from Musée des Arts et Métiers, now, entrances to the secret little cobbled lane can be found at 30 Rue de Turbigo or at 223 Rue Saint-Martin. Its pedestrian-only nature, as well as its location within the Saint-Avoye district, mean that few people venture along and discover what lies between the leafy walls.
If you want to discover more of what Le Marais has to offer, then here’s a free and self-guided walking tour of Le Marais.