So you heard about the catacombes underneath Paris, but subterranean strolls just weren’t your thing. It was dark….and dirty.
Then, in an effort to discover off-the-beaten tracks in Montmartre, you found each charming alleyway packed with more paparazzi than the Oscars.
Worst of all, meandering along the quaint cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter, you had to dodge drunken students mid-bar crawl, complaining about the lack of stiletto-suitable paving.
What’s left? Where can you find enchanting hidden passageways, away from the maddening crowd?
The 2nd arrondissement is at the very heart of Paris. It is one of the most expensive, full of boutiques, quality restaurants…and a lot of men in suits. Foreigners here do not not wield body-sized maps, nor do they wear caps and fanny-packs. Tourism is subtle; people-watching from cafés reveals discrete Hermés scarves, high-heels and Chanel jackets as the apparel of 75002 (verging upwards into the 9th).
But this primarily bourgeois area also has a large number of arching passageways hosting art galleries, jewellers and high-end fashion, known together as les quartiers Vivienne et Faubourg Montmartre. The architecture is beautiful, dating back over 200 years. Chandeliers and marble flooring make you feel as if you have wandered into somebody’s private castle.
Why more people do not know about this rabbit warren of walkways is simple; they are not advertised. While Paris is quite happy to let les touristes gather in their thousands under the Eiffel Tower, there is a whole world to this city that does not welcome the mass, regardless of what it might contribute to profit margins.
Let your shoes do the talking, and follow the arching passageways around the Jardins du Palais Royale.
Entrances can be found at:
Passage des Panoramas, 38 rue Vivienne
Passage Jouffroy, 10-12 boulevard Montmartre
Passage Verdeau, 6 rue de la Grange-Batelière
Passage des Princes, 97 rue de Richelieu
Here is a link to a PDF provided by the City Hall, outlining a possible route to take in order to see all these beautiful passages in the area (scroll down to “Fichiers en téléchargement”).