Passage Jouffroy, Paris


A 1905 visitor to Passage Jouffroy, writing in the Berwickshire News, described this passage in a way which could almost have fitted a 2023 visitor: “An arcade of small, tidy shops, with temptingly decked windows exhibiting all kinds of novelties in the shape of toys, fancy articles etc…”

The Musee Grevin is one of the longstanding features of this arcade and is still going strong. It is a kind of French equivalent of Madame Tussaud’s, filled with waxworks depicting key characters and moments in French history. Across the way from the Museum is the Hotel Chopin, with a couple of its rooms looking down over the arcade roof; and another hotel, the Ronceray, slightly grander than the Chopin, but known once upon a time for its very reasonable fixed price lunches. Its name and entrance stands by one of the Jouffroy entrances on the Boulevard Montmartre.

The lamps lining the arcade give it a vintage feel, along with the mirrors and the 1846 clock made by Wagner (probably the German clockmaker who worked in Wiesbaden).

There are lots of vintage shop fronts in Passage Jouffroy, including Abel at No 36, and the Auvergne Café, with quirky shops like the one selling umbrellas and walking sticks. But there is also an ordinary grocer’s shop, so Jouffroy is a real mix.

My favourite shop today

The umbrella shop is fantastic, but I also want to stay at one of the arcade hotels, and I must next time take a peek inside the Musee Grevin.

My pick of the arcade’s past

In the turbulent months after the 1848 revolutions in Paris, there were conflicting camps arguing for a republic, the return of the monarchy and support for the future Napoleon III. Sixty people were arrested in the Passage Jouffroy for shouting political slogans out of a meeting room above the arcade in June 1849. They were at a meeting of the Friends of the Constitution, who were moderate republicans opposed to Louis Bonaparte (Napoleon III).

A Spanish Marquis dropped his wallet in the Passage Jouffroy one day in 1854. When he alerted the police, they told him that a destitute man who worked occasionally as a sous chef had handed it in to the police station already. The Marquis called for the man to be brought to his table at a restaurant, where he handed over some of the cash that had been in the wallet. On being told that the notes were now legally his, the man (a M. Dubois) danced around the restaurant and along the arcade such was his joy.

Passage Jouffroy was well-known for its large ‘atelier decrottage,’ where pedestrians would go to have their shoes and other clothes dusted down, mud removed and shoes shined. A report in the Dublin Daily Express of 1 June 1888 described the scene: “The client sits in state…on an elevated bench upholstered in red velvet; the shoeblack is a thoughtful man in a black calico apron, roomy slippers and a carpet skull cap.”

This arcade in films or books

A 2010 film, The Tourist with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, kicks off in Paris and has one scene in the Passage Jouffroy.

What’s your favourite shop in the arcade today?

What memories do you have of visits in years gone by?

Have you got any good stories to add on the past of this arcade?

Have you seen Passage Jouffroy in any other film or book?

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