Monday, September 19, 2011

Galerie Vivienne

Conceived in the nineteenth century to protect pedestrians from mud and horse-drawn vehicles, indoor shopping arcades proliferated in the mid 19th century. By 1845 there were over one hundred of them, but today only twenty or so of these passages and galeries remain. For decades they were left to crumble and decay, but many have been renovated and restored to their former glory, creating attractive havens from the city’s choke of traffic. Their entrances are easy to miss, and where you emerge at the other end can be quite a surprise!
The flamboyant decor of Greek and marine motifs in the Galerie Vivienne establishes the perfect ambience in which to shop for antique books, wine, gourmet treats or delightful toys as souvenirs for the young ones back home. This particular galerie is distinguished by its original mosaic floors and an elegant oval staircase dating from 1826.
Note: Hector Berlioz led a large crowd gathered inside the Galerie Vivienne in singing “La Marseillaise” to celebrate the revolution of July, 1830, which resulted in the overthrow of Charles X and transfer of power away from the House of Bourbon.
A Priori Thé, one of the most celebrated tea rooms in Paris since its debut in 1980, is owned by U.S. expat Margaret Gilbert-Hancock. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, the offerings are of the highest quality, and booking is recommended. There are entrances from the street as well as from inside the galerie.
35-37 Galerie Vivienne; tel. 01 42 97 48 75
Métro: Bourse or Pyramides