Top walks in Paris: Covered market streets

It took me nearly 5 trips to Paris and 3 months of living there to discover the beautiful covered market streets in the 9e arrondissement. Dating from the 19th century, le Passage Jouffroy and its extending passages Verdeau and des Panoramas were the beginning of the modern shopping scene, where le lèche vitrines could finally be done in the comfort of an indoor mall. Representative of the time’s technological advances, these passages were amongst some of the first structures to be entirely made of glass and steel; subterranean heating and gas lighting also added to the comfort of these bright shopping alleys. As this great little website points out, Paris used to have over 137 such covered shopping streets, though apparently only 24 of them now remain.

La Seine, Paris

I visited le passage Jouffroy at night. Many of the stores were closed, but I still got to marvel at the architectural details and imagine how it might have been when gas lamps lit the corridors. The glass and iron roof are worth mentioning, but really everything from the tiles on the floor to the lamp fixtures offer a trip in time.

Passage Jouffroy, Paris, in the evening

Passage Jouffroy's entrance, Paris

Passage Jouffroy, Paris

Passage Jouffroy's cafés and restaurants, Paris

One of passage Jouffroy's lovely book stores

You’ll find many dusty book stores here, some that seem to be stuck in time and others that are a bit too much on the touristy side, as well as a few hotels and a wax museum (something about wax museums reminds me of Niagara Falls… for those of you who have been, this may or may not be a good thing). Also, for those who may be interested, there is an impressive dollhouse and miniature supply store. Admire this mini Quincaillerie that was featured in the store’s front window:

Miniature quincaillerie, passage Jouffroy, Paris

Once you’ve finished strolling around the passages, head down to the pedestrian portion of rue Montmartre for l’apéro. Le Coeur fou is a great place to enjoy the neighbourhood atmosphere in a cozy bohemian chic setting. The place is candle lit, the barstaff is friendly and the music is good.

Le Coeur fou, Paris

When your stomach begins to manifest itself, move on by foot to nearby rue Montorgueil. This street has a lively atmosphere both day and night, and at least a dozen restaurants to choose from to satisfy your moment’s desire. I haven’t tried them all, but I have had a great value, late night meal experience at Le Centre Ville  – where I sat on the terrace, under the heaters, for that added “people watching” pleasure.  Another good experience I’ve had was au Rocher de Cancale. This is a no frills, good vibes establishment, with great value cheese and meat platters and a low priced wine list. Every element needed for a good time.

If you do this walk during the daytime, Montorgeuil is a great place for lunch – and Le coeur fou apparently has great coffee. In this case, I also suggest Saint-Eustache church just off rue Montorgeuil (near les Halles). The church, built between 1532 and 1632, has an awkward service entrance, making it easy for passers by to miss it. Going in, however, will allow you to witness a truly beautiful and imposing building with frescoes in the process of being meticulously restored. Its painstaking but interesting work, and the artisans in charge make for educational conversation.

Passage Jouffroy: Metro Grands Boulevards, Paris 9e arr.

Le coeur fou: 55 rue Montmartre, 75002 Paris. 01 42 33 91 33

Le rocher de cancale: 78, rue Montorgueil, 75002 Paris. 01 42 33 50 29

Le Centre Ville: 57 rue Montorgueil, 75002 Paris.  01 42 33 20 40

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Categories: Travel

Author:aalavoie

Aspiring food writer, serious traveler, media enthusiast and communications specialist from Montréal, Canada. www.facebook.com/LavoiealaBouche Follow me on twitter @aalavoie

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