Most of the covered passages of Paris were built just before, during or after the Restoration period, between 1800 and 1850. Erected between buildings and roofed in glass to allow in plenty of natural daylight, their characteristic architecture was illuminated by gas lighting after dark, and many of the original lighting fixtures still remain today. At the height of their popularity in the mid-19th century there were some 150 such passages criss-crossing the heart of Paris, many being interconnected.
The increasing popularity of department stores in the second half of the century caused a decline in custom for the covered passages, many of which fell into disuse or were demolished during Baron Haussmann’s renovation of the city, when wide avenues came into favour. Today only 25 of these iconic shopping malls of yesteryear remain, but they continue to enchant locals and visitors alike, having been carefully preserved or lovingly restored as befits such a much loved aspect of the architectural and historical heritage of Paris.