Last Updated on 10th February 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
Situated in the heart of the 9th arrondissement, filled with boutiques, and the perfect place to spend a rainy day: if you’re looking for one of the prettiest places to visit in Paris, then you need to look no further than Passage des Panoramas, the oldest covered passage in Paris.
During the 1800s and 1900s, covered passageways started to appear all over the city. Long, tall, and imposing, these new walkways were often ornate in decor and featured all kinds of hotels, restaurants, and boutique shops. At this time, there were over 150 covered passageways of Paris. Now, only a handful remain.
A history of the Passage des Panoramas
The site where the Passage des Panoramas now stands was once the Hôtel de Montmorency-Luxembourg. Constructed between 1706 and 1710, the Hotel Particulier was built in the Classical style. Used as a residence for Thomas Rivié de Riquebourg, the hotel was completely destroyed by the end of the 18th-century, making way for the Passage des Panoramas.
A Paris plan of Le Quartier Vivienne, around 1748 to 1762 via Wikipedia
As the oldest of the covered passages of Paris, and largely unchanged since it was constructed in 1799, the Passage des Panoramas has four entrances. The entryways to this Parisian masterpiece can be found at 11 Boulevard Montmartre and 158 rue Montmartre, 10 Rue Saint-Marc, and 38 Rue Vivienne.
Steps away from the Grands Boulevards, the passage is vintage in design. Once inside you can expect to find wrought-iron signs, a tiled floor, and a sumptuous stained glass ceiling, which is reminiscent of an old-fashioned charm so seldom found today. So iconic was Passage des Panoramas, that it was even featured within Emile Zola’s 1880 book, ‘Nana’.
“One December evening three months afterward Count Muffat was strolling in the Passage des Panoramas. The evening was very mild, and owing to a passing shower, the passage had just become crowded with people… And the motley displays in the shops, the gold ornaments of the jeweler’s, the glass ornaments of the confectioner’s, the light-colored silks of the modiste’s, seemed to shine again in the crude light of the reflectors behind the clear plate-glass windows…” – Nana, Emile Zola
From 1861- to the present Passage des Panoramas
In 1861, the Passage also became the first illuminated passage of Paris when gas lamps were installed. The name ‘Panoramas’ derives from the fact that, at the site of where the Hotel de Montmorency-Luxembourg once stood, there were two rotundas featuring projections of great panoramic views of the city. An overnight success, these were eventually demolished in 1831 when they stopped being profitable.
From its inception, the passageway became a key player in the philatelic trade in Paris. That is to say, the walkway was home to plenty of stamp trade and collecting shops, as well as print vendors, and coin and autograph stores. The passage has been a listed historic building since 1974. And at 133 metres in length, you’re sure to find something interesting!
Highlights of Passage des Panoramas
Noglu (16, passage des Panoramas)
For those looking to dine gluten-free in Paris (as well as vegetarian options), Noglu is the place to visit. Opened in 2012 and featuring a mouth-watering menu serving delicacies like gluten-free burgers, there are also countless patisserie options which are also wheat and gluten free.
Coinstot Vino (22-30 Galerie Montmartre)
The ever-so-trendy Coinstot Vino is a haunt for many locals and specialises in ‘natural wines’. While there, you can also snack on a variety of foods and dishes, including bar specialities and pizzas.
Galerie des Varietés, Galerie Feydeau, Galerie Saint-Marc and Galerie Montmartre
The Passage des Panoramas branches off twice, in turn forming four further walkways. These connected passages are also full of boutiques and eateries and are known as ‘Galeries Annexes’ in French. These additional walkways were added in 1834 by architect Grisard to compete with other newly opened covered passageways.
Théâtre des Variétés (7 Boulevard Montmartre)
In operation since 1807, the Theatre still produces everything from events to comedies, ensuring that entertainment is never far away when it comes to the Passage des Panoramas. Designated a national monument in 1975, the interior if full of period and sumptuous features.
Prins Patrick (50 Passage des Panoramas)
Truth be told, the number one highlight of the Panoramas Passage is Prins Patrick. After all, once there you can pick up authentic vintage postcards featuring scenes of the City of Love of Old, often for as little as two euro. If you’re looking for a cool souvenir of the city, then a vintage postcard is the thing to buy!
How to visit Passage des Panoramas
The passage is free to visit, as are many of the 18th and 19th-century passages found across the French capital. Should you wish to visit for yourself, you should bear in mind that the gallery has open and closing times, meaning that it’s not accessible to the public 24/7.
Instead, the passage is open almost every day of the year (with the occasional exception of public holidays) and is open from 6 AM every morning to Midnight in the evening. Close by, you’ll find many of the Parisian department stores, including the stunning panoramic view from the top of the Galeries Lafayette rooftop terrace.