Must see in Paris : stroll through the Galerie Vivienne

Must see in Paris : stroll through the Galerie Vivienne

It's one of the capital's most emblematic passages. The Galerie Vivienne, located between rue Vivienne and rue des Petits Champs, in the heart of the 2nd arrondissement, has been a listed historic monument since 1974. An ideal place to take a stroll, especially when the weather is uncertain ! 

Its name is emblazoned in capital letters on the wrought-iron pediment at the entrance to the passageway. The Galerie Vivienne opens up before you, offering the promise of 176 metres of coloured mosaic floor (added a few decades after its inauguration), all in a neo-classical Pompeian style, highlighted by an impressive central dome and glass roof. At night, its lights provide a particularly muted atmosphere and relief to the mouldings, enhancing the arches that support the glass roof. 

In the 19th century, the galleries were built to attract the Parisian elite - the bourgeoisie and artists - to a place that was entertaining and conducive to strolling. Maître Marchoux, then president of the Chambre des Notaires, commissioned the construction of this ideal location in 1823. It was then called Galerie Marchoux. It was renamed "Vivienne" 3 years later, inspired by the neighbouring street.

It was an immediate success, which lasted until the end of the Second Empire, when Parisians turned more and more to department stores... As a result, the galleries, including the Galerie Vivienne, were gradually abandoned and even disused. Major renovations were finally undertaken in the 1960s to breathe new life into the Galerie Vivienne and encourage Parisians to return to stroll through it. Today, it attracts over 6 million visitors a year !  

Once you've seen all the details of the gallery's architecture, set off to discover the fifty or so pretty shops that bring the gallery to life. Renowned restaurants, fine groceries, clothes, bookshops, interior design, wine cellars... give it its contemporary face while recalling the charm of the period when it was built. 


Practicalities :

Access via 4 rue des Petits-Champs, 5-7 rue de la Banque or 6 rue Vivienne 
Free admission every day from 8.30am to 8pm
Metro lines 1 (Palais Royal), 3 (Bourse) and 9 (Grands boulevards or Richelieu Drouot)

Photos Amandine Goetz