Ceiling in Passage Verdeau, Paris

Passage Verdeau, Paris


Passage Verdeau is the third in a line of arcades that extends northwards, starting at the Passage des Panoramas, continuing through the Passage Jouffroy, and finishing at the northern end of Passage Verdeau, which opens out onto rue du Faubourg Montmartre.

Its glass ceiling, with its fishbone window frames, is perhaps this arcade’s most striking feature today. The classic white entrance at the southern end carries the name of the arcade – twice – and the direction it takes you to – Faubourg Montmartre. There is an attractive clock looking down over the shops at the northern end.

Today there is a bistrot, a restaurant, a picture framer, a book shop and a jeweller’s, the latter at No 26, a shop which once sold silk scarves from India (see below). At the northern end of the arcade is a small Argentinian restaurant, closed when we walked by but with what looked like only one or two tables for dinner, so definitely an intimate place to visit one evening.

My favourite shop today

The Argentinian restaurant looked tempting, but so did the Librairie Farfouille at No 27, and the shop window with the model of a mother sitting with her son on her knee reading a book about country life.

My pick of the arcade’s past

A couple of shops in the Passage Verdeau advertised their wares in the British newspapers: in 1861 the Malle des Indes at No 26 took out adverts for its silk scarves and handkerchiefs; in 1907, a chemist at  No 5 promised women the ‘ideal bust,’ with its lotion aimed at ‘developing, consolidating and restoring the bust.’

In the 1860s a M. Leboucher taught gymnastics and self-defence in the Passage Verdeau. His focus was the kick-boxing technique called ‘savate’. Originally seen as a form of self-defence, it is now a sport with world championships every year. And savate comes from the French word for boot.

The 1880s saw dramatic suicides in the arcade: in 1883 an employee of the Musee Grevin (see Passage des Panoramas), who lived in the Passage Verdeau, first tried to stab himself with a dagger, and then shot himself when the stabbing failed. Two years later a man shot himself through the heart after spending the afternoon in an arcade wine shop drinking and pouring out his woes. He walked out into the arcade, took out his revolver and died on the spot.

This arcade in films or books

Victor Hugo, writing in 1878 but in a story set some decades earlier, describes a massacre of three men who escaped into the Passage Verdeau over the iron grille gateway and hid under some planks only for one protruding foot to give them away and the troops bayoneted them in the arcade by the gates.

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 Verdeau in any other film or book?

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