Covered passages in Paris range from the grand and light-filled to the narrow and dark. At either end of the scale, some passages have been expensively renovated while others are elegantly faded, tatty or seriously run down.
Passage de Bourg l’Abbé (elegantly faded) was built in 1828 to match an earlier passage nearby. The passage is only 3m wide but feels spacious and airy. The clock and barometer are still working, but time seems to have stopped early in the twentieth century here. Some of the decorative details are curiously domestic. Patterned paper on the ceilings tones with painted flowers around the upstairs windows and punched metalwork gives the impression of a delicate, lace trim.
Passage du Ponceau (rather tatty) was opened in 1826. Half a meter narrower than Passage Bourg l’Abbé but twice as long, this passage is lined with modern shopfronts and has a more utilitarian character. There are still interesting details to be seen but they are mostly up high.
The caretaker clearly feels this passage needs a touch of greenery to brighten it up. The narrow, shady space outside the loge has been transformed into a highly individual, indoor garden with pot plants, supplemented by artificial foliage, flowers and gnomes, ranged on different levels. The whole display is retained by a crowd control barrier, as though the plants might burst out of their allotted space. It looks as though this garden is still growing.
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