One of the things I like to do when I travel is visit some of the more out of the way places. In Paris, one such place is Gallery Vivienne.
Around 200 years old, it’s one of many passageways built specifically for shops and cafes. These passageways were a forerunner to the modern-day mall, because they were enclosed to keep their wealthy patrons shielded from the cold, damp european winters. Lots of them have disappeared, but Gallery Vivienne has survived.
You enter through a nondescript iron gate in a grey street. There’s no glitzy sign or flashing lights, and you could miss it, but you wouldn’t want to.
Gallery Vivienne is a haven of rustic charm in the middle of Paris. Its filled with statues and mosaics, and covered by a glass roof. I’m sure its only a faded memory of its former glory, but it has aged (and been renovated) sympathetically.
The shops are all small and unique. Ok, small, unique, and expensive, but you can always look.
Bistrot Vivienne is a restaurant to die for (which you might consider as an option for a moment when you look at the menu, but their prices are no more than elsewhere in Paris).
Les Caves Legrand is a wine shop. Not that there’s any shortage of wine shops in France, but this one’s been there for over a hundred years, and is often rated as one of the best in Paris.
Of course, my favorite place is the bookstore, Librairie Ancienne and Moderne.
The shop is piled high with old books, and has the wonderful musty smell of paper. The haphazard arrangement and the gentle illumination make the place feel more like a personal library than a shop. I had a conversation with the owner. I don’t think either of us understood much the other said, but he was a nice guy.
How about you? Found any out of the way places on your travels?