Paris is a large, busy city, but there’s a private part that visitors might miss. Paris is laid out with squarish blocks supporting interior courtyards hidden behind doors and gates. These courtyards give privacy and light to mansions and apartments.
We experienced this calm side of Paris during our April visit. From our Marais apartment, each day we walked through the 100-meter-long Passage Charlemagne. Built in 1825 and closed to the public in 2013, the passage spans four courtyards. A metal gate guards the passage at 119 rue de Rivoli, steps from the Saint Paul metro station.
Quiet, clean courtyards provide light and fresh air to shops and residents. Both ends of the passage are gated, so the courtyards are a safe place to park bicycles.
I admire the spare and clean style of this shop.
In the passage, people smile and greet you, even if you’re a stranger. Steps away from the Métro, we felt safe when we entered the green gate — we were almost home.