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Passage Pommeraye: A Covered Passage in the Heart of Nantes

Last Updated on 2nd November 2023 by Sophie Nadeau

The only three-tiered arcade shopping mall in Europe can be found in the heart of Nantes, not far from the regal Place Royale and Art Deco café, La Cigale. Here’s everything you need to know before visiting Passage Pommeraye.

Passage Pommeraye: A Covered Passage in the Heart of Nantes, Western France

Filled with sumptuous architectural features such as Corinthian columns, Renaissance sculptures, and wrought-iron railings, today the 19th-century covered walkway is home to plenty of boutique shops, independent stores, and even a café or two! 

Otherwise, it’s worth noting that the city of Nantes can be found in the West of France and was once the destinations from which the Dukes of Brittany chose to run their Kingdom.

Best known as being the birthplace of Jules Verne, today the city is the gateway to the Loire Valley and is perfect for a weekend getaway

Passage Pommeraye: A Covered Passage in the Heart of Nantes, Western France

A history of Passage Pommeraye

Construction of Passage Pommeraye began out of sheer necessity. At the time, the area where the pedestrian walkway is now to be found was dangerous and crime-ridden.

The aim of the passage was to create a space where commuters could safely pass through the city, shops could sell their wares, cafés could serve coffee, and apartments could be built on the upper floor.

Conceived and funded by Notary turned Property Developer Louis Pommeraye, the building of the walkway began in 1840 and was only completed three years later, on the 4th of July 1843.

Two Nantes architects, Jean-Baptiste Buron and Hippolyte Durand Gasselin, also worked on the design of the arcade.

Passage Pommeraye: A Covered Passage in the Heart of Nantes, Western France

Due to its construction on a steeply sloping hill (the difference in height means close to a nine and a half metre difference), the metal and wooden central staircase means that, as you ascend the passage, the detailing of the mouldings and railings get that much more ornate.

In the past, this would have also been where the luxurious shops would have been located. Of course, in more recent times, the sheer uniqueness and beauty of Passage Pommeraye means that it has been used as the backdrop for many movie scenes.

Some of the more famous films shot in the Passage include Lola by director Jacques Demy, Une chambre en ville by director Jacques Demy, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg by director Jacques Demy, and La reine blanche by director Jean-Loup Huber.

Passage Pommeraye: A Covered Passage in the Heart of Nantes, Western France

How to visit Passage Pommeraye

Since 1976, Passage Pommeraye has been listed as a historic monument. For those wishing to visit the covered shopping arcade today, there are a few things to know before you go.

First of all, a stroll inside this shopping centre is completely free, though you’ll probably want to bring along some money to pick up a French souvenir or two!

If you want to visit with a local guide so as to get a more in-depth look at the history of Passage Pommeraye, as well as hidden gems of the surrounding area, then Nantes Tourisme offers a selection of guided tours, some of which are included in the Nantes Pass (which is well worth the money if you’re planning to see all of the major city attractions in a short space of time). Find more information here.

Passage Pommeraye: A Covered Passage in the Heart of Nantes, Western France

Otherwise, it’s worth noting that this is easily one of the most beautiful covered passageways in Europe and is ever so reminiscent of the covered arcades in Paris and those of the Italian city of Turin.

Open on a daily basis, the best time to take photos is earlier in the day (i.e. when the passage first opens for the day) as opposed to later when all the other tourists arrive! At Christmas, the passage is adorned in lights and Christmas trees, making it one of the most festive places to visit in Nantes!

Passage Pommeraye Opening times

Monday – Friday 8 AM – 8 PM

Saturday & Sunday 9 AM – 8 PM

The walkway is closed on the 1st of May, which is May Day in France. Although opening times tend to operate throughout the year for the actual passage, individual shops operate their own opening hours and may well be closed during Sundays and on special events days, such as Bastille Day.

Passage Pommeraye: A Covered Passage in the Heart of Nantes, Western France

Attractions worth visiting close to Passage Pommeraye

Chocolatier Gautier Debotté

Often said to be one of the best chocolatiers in Nantes, this mouthwatering shop offers all kinds of sweet delights. Step inside and you’ll soon discover a vintage store selling traditional sweets, as well as more contemporary concoctions served with a modern twist.

Coiffard Books

Hands down, my favourite bookshop in Nantes is that of Coiffard. Celebrating its centenary year of operation this year, wander into this independent store and you’ll soon discover a fantastic selection of books, all stored in wooden cases stacked from floor to ceiling. And for the discerning traveller, Coiffard also offers a fantastic selection of travel books, including plenty about Nantes.

Between specialised independent shops, cafés that sell books, and general book vendors, here's your complete guide to the best bookshops in Nantes

Take a segway tour

If you’re interested in doing an adventurous activity during your time in Nantes, then you might consider booking a segway tour like this one. Ride past attractions such as Château des ducs de Bretagne and the Gothic style cathedral, all with a local guide.

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Passage Pommeraye: A Covered Passage in Nantes Western France

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A Francophile at heart, she runs when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She splits her time between Paris and London and travels as much as she can! Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.

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