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Passages of Paris

Cast aside your umbrella, intrepid shoppers of Paris. Even as November’s freezing rain pours down, you can stroll the streets of the Right Bank undrenched; shopping, dining and even staying overnight in the passageways and galleries of Paris.

From Stella McCartney to wine bars, teeny tiny antiques shops and seconds art book stores, there are rich pickings to be had in the galleries and passageways of Paris. I took a stroll recently with friend of Trufflepig Anne Muraro, who knows the city ‘comme sa poche’. Here’s a sketch itinerary of a few favourites:

If the weather’s good, start in the Palais Royal, checking out the galleries on the east side, where some very fine clothing stores lurk: check out Didier Ludot’s shop specialising only in the little black dress. Swing by Anna Joliet’s extraordinary Boites à Musique store at the north end of the garden, where she sells nothing but hand-made music boxes; opposite is an excellent old-fashioned toy store.

From there, cross the street to the Gallerie Vivienne, and the Gallerie Colbert, alongside each other, and rivals since their inception in the early 19th Century. Vivienne is full of great little boutiques, from books to clothes to designer spectacles and more.

Leaving Vivienne, you’re exposed to the elements for the three minute dash up the Rue Vivienne to the entrance of the Passage des Panoramas. Exploring this maze of alleyways, you only have to duck across the Boulevard Montmartre and the Rue de la Grange Batelerie to pass through both the Passage Jouffroy and the Passage Verdeau – i.e. hours of fruitful window-shopping, antiquing and lunching. A couple of particular favourites are right at the end: Amicorum, and opposite it Galerie Valence in the Passage Verdeau. Make your way up here and you’ll wonder why you bothered battling your way around the Marché aux Puces in the rain…

And there’s plenty of choice for dining along the way, from the rarefied Le Grand Verfour off the Palais Royal (pictured) or the Restaurant du Palais Royal, to the Caves Legrand or Bistrot Vivienne in the Gallerie Vivienne, Racines or Passage 53 in the Passages des Panoramas, or I Golosi in the Passage Verdeau. That’s not to mention any number of tea and coffee and cake shops along the way. And for breakfast, book an overnight in the Hotel Chopin, not obviously modernised since the passage was originally built, but ground zero for your winter shopping trip.

Jack Dancy knows the passages of Paris like the hallways of his own apartment.

Note: This post was originally published on October 4, 2010.

Swing by Anna Joliet's extraordinary Boite a Musique store at the north end of the garden, where she sells nothing but hand-made music boxes.

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