If you learn French in Paris, I will help you to discover a selection of nice Parisian covered markets, whose popularity began in the middle of the nineteenth century. In this French lesson through Paris, we will explore some of the 1st, 2d and 10th arrondissements’ notorious covered markets *.
10 am, I meet up with Anni, one of my Australian students who learn French in Paris with me at the entrance of the Galerie Véro-Dodat, on Paris’ right bank, only a few hundred meters only from the Louvre. The covered markets’ retro atmosphere carries both historical magnificence and a nostalgia that I love.
The covered markets En vogue
The gallery Véro-Dodat, as well as the 150 other covered passages and arcades were considered to be the first malls. They were en vogue during the first half of the nineteenth century until the Haussman’s urbanisation programme started in 1853. Covered markets were established close to social life centres of attraction: Palais-Royal, the Bourse, the Opera and later on the grands Boulevards theatres in the 2nd arrondissement. As such, they announced the important department stores to come: Le Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville (BHV) or le Bon Marché, founded in 1852.
Trade and leisure development in nineteenth century Paris
Theses resulted from the combination of several factors: one of them was the rising of private speculation controlled by private funds. These were combined with commercial activities and the bourgeois taste for flânerie, a word translated as “strolling”. For the French writer Gustave Flaubert, they reflected the very essence of time of « selling and buying, the aim of life ».
Parisians loved these elegant en vogue boutiques, bookshops, theatres and various sources of pleasure. They would stroll under their arcades, swagger during the week-ends and enjoy the entertainment they provided. In the evening, they’d gather there to dance in the ball rooms.
The latest technological innovations
This was a way for Parisians to escape the streets’ filth, mud and dust because at that time, sidewalks didn’t exist. The covered passages served as a shelter offering the latest technological innovations: the comfort of the first heated floor appeared Passage des Panoramas, in 1846.
The first glass roofs, their first wooden then metal structures, enabled everyone to better appreciate natural light. Whereas artificial lightening was spread by elegant streetlights.
Anni is charmed by this 1826 gallery and the richness it exudes: its wooden panels, its black and white tiles, its landscape paintings and elegant streetlights. In the entrance of the Gallery Dodat, we discover André Louboutin’s « haute couture » shoe store. My student lingers over the windows’ display, fascinated by the worldwide famous red sole specialist’s luxurious shop.
Gallery Vivienne was founded in 1826. When coming in, Anni is immediately attracted by the splendid Roman-inspired mosaics. The setting is splendid: painted ceilings and sculptures pay tribute to ancient trading activities.
A little further, in the middle of the gallery under the central dome, follow my advice: stop in front of the wine merchant Caves Legrand Filles et Fils, one of Paris’ oldest wine shops. The place is unique. Anni decides to make a stop and taste a few local specialties, but no wine of course! Wine tasting would be off-topic for our lesson!
This passage is more modest than other ones, and the alleys’ arcades are also narrower. Passage Jouffroy is famous for its fake ornamented clock and curious little Chopin hotel. We take another short break at Le Valentin – excellent pastry shop! – where my student admires local specialties and gives in a delicious Mille feuilles.
You wish to learn French in Paris in the Covered markets? Try our guided walks in Paris
If you learn French in Paris and would like to immerse yourself in Paris while practising your French speaking skills, in addition to personalized private French lessons on a one to one basis, French à La Carte offers guided walks in different Parisian districts. Try our lessons off the beaten tracks and feel like a true Parisian for a few hours!
• Cosmopolitan Paris: The picturesque and popular districts of Belleville and Menilmontant.
• Timeless Paris: The little-known Latin Quarter.
• Mythical Paris: The Saint-Germain-des-Prés district of Paris’ artists, an iconic neighbourhood from the early 20th century onwards.
• Paris Village: The hidden places of Montmartre.
• Trendy Paris: Le Marais off the beaten tracks.
• 19th Century Paris: The arcades and covered passages of the Grands Boulevards.
The covered markets: the malls’ ancestors