A trip back in time to Belle-Epoque of Paris
With the end of the First Empire came new forms of commerce, inspired by the Orientalist fashions initiated by Bonaparte upon his return from Egypt. Property developers were seduced by the architecture of the covered Arab markets, where many different tradespeople sold their wares. These first shopping centres were designed with glass roofing and gas heating to protect shoppers from the elements. The first of these new spaces was the Passage des Panoramas in 1816.
The rediscovery of Pompeii inspired the neo-classical design and decorations of the Galerie such as the Caduceus of Mercury, anchors and cornucopias that adorn the walls. Sculptures of goddesses and nymphs ornament the rotunda, which opens onto the long glass-ceilinged passageway, while stunning mosaics created by Giandomenico Facchina embellish the floors, earning the Galerie Vivienne a reputation as one of the most beautiful of its kind in all of Paris.
By the end of the Second Empire, cobblers, tailors, drapers, haberdashers and print dealers had
set up shop in the Galerie, ensuring its commercial success. However, by the time François Beaugé opened his spice emporium in 1880, the Galerie was no longer the bustling hub of activity it once had been. The Madeleine and Champs Elysees became the new go-to shopping
destinations, and the passages of the Galeries Vivienne were still fairly quiet when Lucien Legrand took over in the early seventies, though a new energy could be felt along its corridors with the arrival of Jean-Paul Gauthier and Yuki Torii in 1986 and Nathalie Garçon in the 90's.
Nowadays, more than 140 years after opening, Legrand plays a key role in ensuring that this exquisite work of Parisian architecture continues to thrive.