A French lesson in the covered passages : back to the 19th Century
Today, I have chosen to make you explore the 19th century with a French lesson in the covered passages in Paris . A crossover between Oriental souk and cabinet of curiosities, the 19th century covered passages were forerunners of the shopping malls or departments stores. Walking through long glass roofed corridors lined with charming shops, restaurants, designer boutiques (Christian Louboutin has opened a boutique in the Gallerie Verot Dodat) and specialist shops (Caves Legrand filles&fils), you’ll be transported back to the early 1800s as you gaze at the beautiful glass and iron structures and original features.
Galerie Verot Dodat
Access: Rue du Bouloi, Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Paris 75001
Metro Line 8, 12, 14: Madeleine
Open: Mon-Sat 7am-22:00
Just next to the Louvre, chic Galerie Vero-Dodat, named after its two investors Vero and Dodat, connects Rue du Bouloi and Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It was built in 1826 in neo-classical style with marble columns, gold trimming, coving, frescoes, and tiled floor and still exists today as a chic spot to shop at. It’s elegance is a suitable backdrop for its shops which are mostly high calibre designer boutiques and antique shops such as Christian Louboutin. An interesting but sombre fact: this is the location of Café de l’Époque, where the French writer Gérard de Nerval would often drink. It is here he took his last drink before heading to Châtelet to hang himself!
Galerie Vivienne et Colbert
Access: Rue Vivienne, Rue des Petits Champs, Paris 75002
Metro Line 3: Bourse
Open: Passage Colbert 24/7 / Passage Vivienne 8:30am-20:30 every day
Pomp and lustre sum up these two galleries which are connected and parallel to each other. Galerie Vivienne was the first to be built in 1823 and is one of the most stunning passages of Paris, elegantly constructed with decorative mosaic floors in an example of beautiful architecture. This luxurious setting is home to numerous designer stores such Jean-Paul Gautier, and chic tea rooms and nic-nac shops providing a sophisticated escape from the noise and weather. Passage Colbert was built a few years later in competition with Galerie Vivienne, and contains a gorgeous large glass roofed rotunda from which used to hang a large bronze chandelier, but now hosts a statue of Eurydice by Charle François Leboeuf. It’s a lovely space to walk around in and is also nice and quiet! Both passages contain traditional French brasseries in the style of the gallery and are worth sampling! These are certainly two fine examples of 19th Century passages of Paris.
Augustin, Rue Saint Anne, Paris 75001
Metro Line 3: Quatre Septembre
Open: Mon-Sat 7am – 21:00
A passage with a literary and theatrical background, it was built in 1829 and exists today with the original features still intact. It is home to the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, once managed by composer Jacques Offenbach, famous for its productions of operetta and opéra bouffe. It was also home to writer Louis-Ferdinand Celine, who immortalised it in his novel ‘Death on Credit’. The passage became very popular in the 1970s when Kenzo opened up a store here (since moved). Today the passage is home to a variety of outlets such as book shops, clothing stores, shoe shops, restaurants and cyber cafes and is a fun spot to wander round.
Passage des Panaromas
Access: Boulevard Montmartre, Rue Saint Marc, Paris 75002
Metro Line 8, 9: Grands Boulevards
Open: Everyday 6am – midnightParis 75002
Metro Line 8, 9: Grands Boulevards
Open: Everyday 6am – midnight
One of Paris’ first passages which has existed since 1799, built on the site of the pre-existing gardens of the 18th Century Hotel Particulier, L’Hôtel de Montmorency-Luxembourg. It was also one of the first public places in Paris to be lit by gas lamp in 1817. Not only is it visually splendid, apart from its usual eateries such as the typically Parisian wine specialist and restaurant, ‘Racine’, and a variety of wooden faceted shops, it’s a great centre for stamp collectors and also has a wonderful antique postcard shop. It is also the home of the famous Theatre des Varietes which opened in 1807, now owned by the French actor, Jean-Paul Belmondo. Another historic spot is the engraving shop owned by the Stern family since the 1840s. If it’s worthy of inclusion in Emile Zola’s Nana, it’s certainly worth a visit!
Passage Verdeau and Passage Jouffroy
Access: Rue de la Grange Bataliere, Boulevard Montmatre, Paris 75003
Metro Line 8, 9: Grands Boulevards
Open: Mon-Fri 7:30am-21:00 Sat-Sun 7:30am-20:30 / Passage Jouffroy: Mon-Sun 7am-21:30
These two passages lead on from Passage des Panoramas, after the intersection of Boulevard Montmartre. Both built in 1847, they are very well known spots of Paris and it is here that you’ll find the famous wax museum of Paris, Musee Grevin and Paul Vulin’s long standing vintage book shop. There are all sorts of shops here, from an old camera shop, home ware shops and speciality confectionery stores. It’s a pleasure to stroll the length of these 19th Century shopping malls and peruse at a leisurely pace. Another point of interest round here is a restaurant called Victoria Station (11, Boulevard Montmartre ) which has been fitted with original 19th Century train seating (not sure how great the food is but worth seeing the deco!)
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Cliches about the French include the fact that we are smokers, fashion icons, slim and slender, drink wine and coffee like water and are the ultimate romantics. While these archetypes can prove to be true, it is important to keep in mind that each person is an individual.
1 – We are bad drivers Vrai et Faux. Well, that depends on how your define “bad”. We can be well-mannered in some situations, but easily become surprisingly aggressive behind the wheel.
2- The French are very romantic True. Yes, it’s difficult to make sweeping generalizations about an entire population, but the French are quite passionate and romantic. Blame in on the language (who can really keep it together with all those rolling vowel sounds).
3- We wear berets while riding bicycles with baskets full of baguettes Faux, well almost ! Yes we love to eat baguettes, especially some tartines (pieces of bread on which you spread butter, jam or chocolate) which we eat in the morning with an expresso.
It is very unlikely that you get to see the combination of a Parisian wearing a beret with a stick riding a bike.
4- We don’t speak any other language except ours Vrai et faux. We aren’t very good at foreign languages. We had strong policies to preserve French Culture, and these included a lot of excessive measures, specially concerning movies and TV shows’translations and dubbing.
There is also a problem with the way people learn English or other languages at school.
However, there are more and more French people learning English while living abroad or working in a global context which requires to master English.
5- You have to speak French if you travel to France Vrai et faux. This depends where you’re going. If you’re visiting large cities like Marseille, Paris, Lyon, etc., then chances are you’ll be able to get by just speaking English. If you are going off the beaten tracks to explore small towns and villages, then knowing some French is helpful. Of course, those fluent in French will find it easier, but it’s not impossible to travel around France knowing no French. It’s considered polite to attempt to speak French (even if it’s out of a phrase book) instead of assuming someone speaks English. I recommend starting out by asking the person if they speak English: Parlez-vous Anglais?
6- We are snobby & rude Vrai et faux. This one depends on the context. Before calling someone snobby or rude, it’s important to understand cultural differences.With a little education on a particular situation, a person can find they can understand and get along with just about anyone. That doesn’t mean that there are absolutely no rude people in France. There are rude people everywhere, it’s a fact of life! The Parisians can get a bit stressed during rush hours in the Metro, but isn’t it the same in all the big cities all over the world? But I don’t think this is the norm, neither to be a French speciality. Many French will welcome you arms wide open wherever you come from. I hopfully belong to this category.
7. We are all a fashion icon Vrai et faux. Some people critisise the French, especially the Parisians, for our overwhelming concern for the way we dress.
It is true that Parisians like to appear casual and elegant without being overdressed or under-dressed. The laissez-faire approach to fashion is something many people covet — and the looks we wear are something we all want to emulate on a daily basis. But do not expect to meet someone dressed in a Channel suit in the street, it is very unlikely. You will see more people, as in all big cities of the world, wearing international brands with maybe an extra French touch !
9- We are always on vacations Vrai et faux. Almost all employees are entitled to 5 weeks of holiday a year. August has been the traditional holiday month in France, with almost all locals clearing out of their cities to venture to other parts of the world. When you tell a French person that the average American only gets two weeks vacation a year, you will invariably hear,”Ehhh?! Ce n’est pas possible! C’est fou!” It’s not possible and it’s crazy
10- We are strike lovers Vrai et fauxI will not go into details on that point as it would obviously require a deeper analysis but in a few lines, I would say that the right to strike is important in French culture. However[p1] , it’s often reconsidered by people, by organization or political parties. On the one hand it’s understandable that people have demands but on the other , citizens like me do not always agree with how strikers are acting to achieve their demands or explain their dissatisfaction. That’s why this right, has to exist but also has to be limited so that people can live in a community.
11- We are food snobs True. If you define “food snob” as someone quite concerned with the quality of products, presentation of meals, and art of food combination , then yes, we are decidedly on the elitist side. Sure, there are people who routinely pop meals in the microwave, and I was initially surprised at the large number of processed items on offer in the supermarkets, but on the whole, we are acutely aware of what we put in our food trollies and grocery baskets and where we shop.
12– We love to smoke cigarettes Vrai et faux. Again, probably not more than any other people. Since we enforced a law banning smoking from public places, particularly workplaces, people smoke less and less.
13-We are all fashion icon Vrai et faux. Another cliche about the French is their appreance. Some people critisize the French, especially the Parisians, for our overwhelming concern for the way we dress.
It is true that Parisians like to appear casual and elegant without being overdressed or under-dressed. The laissez-faire approach to fashion is something many people covet — and the looks we wear are something we all want to emulate on a daily basis. But do not expect to meet someone dressed in a Channel suit in the street, it is very unlikely. You will see more, as in all big cities of the world, people wearing international brands with maybe an extra French touch !
14 – We are always on vacations Vrai et faux. Almost all employees are entitled to 5 weeks of holiday a year. August has been the traditional holiday month in France, with almost all locals clearing out of their cities to venture to other parts of the world. When you tell a French person that the average American gets two weeks vacation a year, you will invariably hear,”Ehhh?! Ce n’est pas possible! C’est fou!” It’s not possible and it’s crazy
1– We are food snobs True. If you define ” a food snob” as someone concerned with the quality of products, presentation of meals, and the art of food combination , then yes, we are decidedly on the elitist side. Sure, there are people who routinely pop meals in the microwave, and I was initially surprised at the large number of processed items on offer in the supermarkets, but on the whole, we are acutely aware of what we put in our food trollies and grocery baskets and where we shop.
You are interested by the cliches about the French ?
French “à la carte” offers customized one to one French lessons to meet your needs, your learning style and your schedule. If you are interested in learning more about French culture and traditions while improving your language skills, call or contact us here to organise private French lessons in Paris with a French tutor in Paris.
[p1]Doesn’t make senseRead More
When should you use Vous or Tu ? This is one of the most subtle and complicated points in the French language. I think you could say that it has more to do with the culture than with the language itself.
Until you have a good feel for it, you can use the following rules of thumb:
If you are young (say, 24 and younger), use tu with anyone your age and younger, unless the situation is very impersonal (e.g. with a cashier in a shop).
If you are older than this, use tu with young children (in any situation) and with adolescents and young adults in social situations.
Use tu on the Internet unless you’re trying to be very formal, or you’re talking with someone whom you know offlilne and address as vous.
If you are in school or university, use vous with your teachers, no matter their age.
If someone who is your social equal (co-worker with the same job, for example) uses tu, you can safely use tu as well. This may not apply to social superiors.
In all other situations, use vous unless the person you’re talking to specifically asks you to use tu.
(May seem obvious, but needs to be included): Always use vous when addressing more than one person. This is a grammatical rule and you will not be understood if you use tu.
Again, these rules are very approximate and everyone will have a different opinion on this, but they should keep you from shocking anyone too badly until you develop your own style.
One last thing regarding the use of Tu or Vous : remember that if your non-Frenchness is obvious from your accent, French people will normally forgive impertinent uses of tu, so don’t stress out too much over this.
Improve your French while learning more about French culture
French à La Carte offers customized lessons. If you are interested in learning more about French culture and traditions while improving your language skills, call or contact us here to organise a private French lesson in Paris with a French tutor in Paris.Read More