Paris’s covered passages: Passage des Panoramas

Passage des Panoramas stands out as one of the city’s most charming places to explore and is just across the road from another Parisian gem – Passage Jouffroy. It’s the oldest covered passage in Paris, encapsulating an authentic piece of Parisian history. Over the years, the passage has experienced a gastronomic revolution and now offers a great variety of fantastic food. Here is your guide to visiting Passage des Panoramas, complete with history and things to know before you go. 

passage des panoramas

The covered passages in Paris, such as Passage des Panoramas, Galerie Vivienne and Passage Jouffroy, are invitations to travel back in time. Each passage is full of fascinating history, antique shops and beautiful cafes. Despite their proximity, every passage is different – each has its vibe and style. 

Covered passages in Paris, also known as “passages couverts,” are a unique and charming feature of the city’s architectural and cultural landscape. These passages gained popularity in the 19th century and served as early shopping malls, providing sheltered walkways for elegant Parisians to browse shops, cafes, and entertainment venues. The history of covered passages in Paris is a fascinating journey through urban development and societal changes.

History of Passage des Panoramas

Passage des Panoramas is located in the 2nd arrondissement and connects the Boulevard Montmartre to the Rue Saint-Marc. Dating back to 1800, it proudly holds the title of the oldest covered passage in Paris. It was named “Panoramas” because of a commercial attraction built on the site. Two large rotundas showed panoramic paintings of Paris and other large cities in what was a popular form of entertainment in the 19th century. The idea came from an American engineer and inventor, Robert Fulton. He had come to France to offer his latest innovations, such as the steamboat, submarine and torpedoes. Despite facing rejection from Napoleon for his inventions, Fulton found success with the panoramic exhibition he created.

In an era when Paris lacked sidewalks, the passage offered a haven for Parisian ladies to stroll through the 133-meter passage, comprising 60 houses with individual storefronts. The passage served as a sheltered escape from the bustling streets and bad weather, attracting elegant Parisians who strolled, shopped and dined here.

passage des panoramas

The Passage des Panoramas branches off twice, forming four further walkways. The architect Grisard added these additional walkways in 1834 to compete with other newly opened covered passageways.

Over time, the passage has evolved into a vibrant shopping hub, featuring a varied assortment of boutiques, antique stores, bookshops, and dining establishments. Exploring the passage allows visitors to discover a wide range of items, from stamps and coins to rare books and prints. Additionally, with more than 20 restaurants adorning its pathways, the passage has transformed into a culinary paradise.

Favourite addresses

Caffè Stern, 47 Passage des Panoramas

Stern was a famous French engraver, counting the presidential Elysée Palace as one of its customers for its menus and invitations. In its place, you will now find an Italian restaurant. Opened by the Alajmo brothers in 2014, Caffè Stern attracts gourmets from all over Paris looking for quality Italian food. Decorated by Philippe Starck and full of curiosities, it’s an unusual restaurant with a great atmosphere.

Racines, 47 Passage des Panoramas

A Sardinian chef, Simone Tondo, who runs the restaurant, has reinterpreted Italian classics so well that the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2019. You can expect great seasonal produce with recipes from Sardinia, Italy and Paris in a “bistrottoria” not to be missed.

Canard & Champagne, 57 Passage des Panoramas

It’s all in the name – the restaurant specializes in duck meat and champagne. You can’t get any more French than this.

Astair, 19 Passage des Panoramas

This restaurant, with a beautiful terrace, serves traditional French brasserie food. There is a vintage feel to the décor inside, and it feels very Parisian.

Gyoza Bar, 56 Passage des Panoramas

Head here to try the only dish on the menu – gyozas! The bar was opened in 2012 by a team of Shin Sato, the first Japanese chef to win two Michelin stars in France. Here, you’ll find simple, quick, tasty food with great cocktails. 

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