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Posts from the ‘Galerie Véro-Dodat’ Category

26
Jan

Galerie Véro-Dodat – A Speculative Venture

THE GALERIE VERO-DODAT is another of the surviving passages couverts in Paris. It’s also another example of Restoration property speculation in the nineteenth-century.

During the post-revolutionary Restoration period speculation was rife in Paris and some people became very rich indeed. One example is Benoit Véro, a butcher, who by 1840 had turned 4,000 Francs inherited from his wife’s parents into a fortune of some 850,000 Francs.

In 1818, Véro had a shop at the corner of the Rue Montinesque in the 1st arrondissement. The following year he bought the small hôtel Quatremère in the Rue Bouloi opposite his shop. This was the genesis of the Galerie Véro-Dodat.

Sounds of the Galerie Véro-Dodat:

Véro teamed up with his neighbour, the financier Dodat and together they bought another parcel of real estate in the Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  In 1822, Véro and Dodat began connecting the two properties with a passage effectively providing a shortcut from the commercial district of Les Halles to the elegant Palais Royal. Into this space they created the nineteenth-century shopping mall, the Galerie Véro-Dodat, which eventually opened in 1826.

The venture was a success.  Véro and Dodat had proved that location is everything. The entrance in the Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau just happened to be the terminus of the mail coaches, Messageries Laffitte et Gaillard.

The passengers waiting for, or alighting from, the coaches provided eager customers ready to sample the magasins à la mode. By 1837, Véro and Dodat held two hundred shares in the Galerie Véro-Dodat with each share valued at ten thousand Francs!

Like the other passage couverts in Paris, the early flush of popularity eventually passed.  For the Galerie Véro-Dodat the decline began during the Second Empire with the demise of the Messageries Laffitte et Gaillard. It wasn’t until 1997 that the Galerie was restored to its former nineteenth-century neo-classical glory complete with its elegant shops specialising in antiques, objets d’art, art books and fashion accessories.

Galerie Véro-Dodat:

19 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and

2 rue du Bouloi

75001 Paris

Metro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre

You can see more of Les Passages Couverts here:

Passage des Princes :

Passage du Grand-Cerf:

Passage Brady:

Passage Verdeau:

Passage Jouffroy:

22
Jul

Passage Brady

I’VE SET MYSELF the task of recording the sounds inside each of the surviving passages couverts in Paris and I will feature a series of them on this blog in the weeks to come.

Altogether, one hundred and fifty of these covered arcades were built mainly in two bursts of activity –  from 1823 to 1828 and from 1839 to 1847. Of these one hundred and fifty, just twenty remain today.

Galerie Vivienne

The passages couverts were concentrated on the right bank of la Seine, an area more associated with commerce than the left bank. The most glamorous and most fashionable such as the Galerie Vivienne (perhaps the most elegant of them all) were concentrated in the area around the Palais Royal, the Boulevard des Italiens and the Boulevard Montmartre. All these passages faced in a north-south direction.

By contrast, another cluster of passages couverts, all in an east-west configuration, sprang up in the area around Saint-Denis. These were much less glamorous (save for the Passage du Grand-Cerf perhaps) and far less fashionable.

I’ll feature the Galerie Vivienne and the Passage du Grand-Cerf later in this series but for this post, I want to feature a passage from the other end of the spectrum.

Close to Porte Saint-Denis is the Passage Brady and one could be forgiven for thinking that this is not in Paris at all.

Inside the Passages Brady:

Opened on 15th April 1828, the Passage Brady today is an oriental delight.  With its exotic smells and the atmosphere of an Indian bazaar, the chipped floors, ailing glass roof and peeling, graffiti-adorned walls somehow don’t seem to matter.

Indian immigrants first came here in the early 1970’s from Pondicherry, a former French territory in India and later, immigrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh joined them. The food, exotic spices, clothes, trinkets and even the hairdressers reflect this cultural mélange.

A shopkeeper and entrepreneur, perhaps not surprisingly called Brady, conceived the idea for the Passage Brady. His idea was to create one of the longest passage couverts in Paris comprising one hundred and thirteen shops with housing above. And he would have succeeded had it not been for Baron Haussmann’s city planning. Originally, the Passage Brady had a large glass dome at its centre before continuing further to the east as an uncovered passage. The main entrance was under the glass dome.

In 1854, the new Boulevard Sévastopol was under construction and the glass dome suffered as a consequence. This new road cut right through the Passage Brady taking the dome with it. Today, the covered Passage Brady lies to the west of the Boulevard Sévastopol with the uncovered part to the east.

The Passage Brady may not be the most elegant of les passages couverts, perhaps not elegant at all, but the smell of exotic spices and incense, the colours and the sounds seem to capture the essence of the original passages couverts.

To see more of les passage couverts take a look at this piece.

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