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The passages in Paris--think covered arcades--are secret worlds. One can walk by their metal gates and hardly get a whiff of their existence, unless we catch a glimpse out of the corner of our eyes, stop and stare directly into their galleries of divine mystery.
My second favored passage is the chic Galerie Véro-Dodat, connecting rues du Bouloi and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (pictured above), but is most easily spotted from the rue Croix des Petits Champs. In neoclassical style--with painted ceiling and paneled shop fronts divided by black marble columns--Galerie Véro-Dodat sets a posh tone for the elegant shops within it.
Galerie Véro-Dodat was built in 1826 and named after its
owners, charcutier (butcher) Benoît Véro and a financier called Dodat. It was a short cut between busy Les Halles and the Palais Royal,
and fashionable shoppers and travelers enjoyed its modern
conveniences. Yes, let's call it as we see it--a 19th Century mall.
And let's say what it is today--a beautiful place to window shop or
drop some serious cash.
Last week the windows that caught my eye were at one of my favorite Paris shoe shops--Christian Louboutin:
Christian Louboutin...Stiletto and Lipstick
And more Christian Louboutin
Is there ever enough?
The triangular area at the Rue Bouloi end of Galerie Véro-Dodat was where the stagecoaches of the Messageries Laffitte et Gaillard mustered before galloping off with the mail to all the corners of Europe.
Today, the horses long replaced by the railroads, there are rarely many visitors here, making it easier to evoke the spirit of Alfred de Musset, the lovelorn playwright who was said to have returned week after week to read his plays to the actress Elisabeth Rachel Felix.
Known simply as Mademoiselle Rachel, she lived in a third-floor apartment above the Galerie Véro-Dodat from 1838 to 1842. Rachel, credited with reviving interest in classical theatre while romanticism was all the rage, was one of the string of loves wooed by the alcohol-sodden Musset after his tempestuous relationship with George Sand, that irrepressible romantic feminist born well before her time.
The print-seller Aubert, editor of Charivari and of La Caricature, also settled there and introduced the gallery to the most famous caricaturists of the time.
And who was the Louboutin the ladies of that era were wearing? I can hear the click of their shoes on the stones outside his door.
Unless otherwise indicated, photos by Beth Arnold using her iPhone and Canon PowerShot SD750.
---Beth Arnold in Paris