I was in Paris for a combined meeting of the legal teams and after we had each given presentations in the morning, we were taken by taxi to the centre of Paris for a guided tour of les passsages couverts. Unfortunately, we were dropped off at the wrong location near to Musee du Louvre,
and so had to extend our walking for the day to meet up with the others. I had my rucksack with me and so carried 20 lbs on my back for the next 3 hours.
We got to the correct Metro station on the Rue de Rivoli and I began to think we were walking back to where we had come from until we crossed the Rue de Rivoli, took a turn down Rue Saint-Honore and then went right into Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, which brought us to Galerie Vero-Dodat, the first of our covered passages. The covered passages developed in the late 18th century, each one has its own special character, and they provided warm, dry places for the wealthy to shop and dine.
It leads through to Rue Croix des Petits Champs and from there we made our way by the Rue du Colonel Driant to the Palais Royal and the gardens, which were somewhat bleak in the winter, before following the Rue de Montpensier past Le Grand Vefour restaurant, very popular with celebrities and with a set menu which starts at 98 Euro, and then our route took us through the middle of a film set, before reaching the Rue Vivienne, and the entrance to the Galerie Colbert. Our bags were searched going into this one, possibly because many of the units are now used by the university. It was built in 1826 to compete with the Galerie Vivienne (which we would come to) and was not as successful. Following renovation 1980 it was bought by the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.
We came out onto the Rue des Petits Champs and went into the Galerie Vivienne, which was very sparkly indeed,both outside and inside. This Galerie opened to the public in 1826 and still holds a vast selection of shops. We came out again on to the Rue Vivienne and went down the side of the Biblioteque Nationale, crossing the Rue de Richelieu before reaching the Square Louvois, the former site of the Theatre Nationale de la rue de la Loi, which served as the principal home of the Paris Opera and now holds the Fontaine Louvois , following Hausmann’s renovation of Paris and an effort to create more green spaces.
From there we headed along Rue Rameau to join up with Rue Sainte-Anne, went through the passage Sainte-Anne, then into the passage Choiseul and soon came to the Theatre des Bouffes Parisiens. This was founded in 1855 by the composer Jacques Offenbach for the performance of opera bouffe and operetta. We came out of there and as we walked along Rue Vivienne we saw the Paris Bourse before coming to the Passage des Panoramas, built in 1799. Time had moved on and we had to get to the Eurostar so the guided part of the tour had to come to a quick end now. We still managed to find our way through a couple more of the passages on our way through Rue Drouot and then Rue du Faubourg Montmartre before we reached Rue de Maubeuge, and after a short detour to our hotel on Rue Rodier, we arrived at Gare du Nord after a fascinating afternoon.