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.
19 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and
2 rue du Bouloi
Metro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre
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