Passage du Prado in Paris

For many years in the 19th and 20th centuries, 18-20 boulevard Saint-Denis was the address of a publishing company called A. Taride, which specialized in “maps for cyclists and automobiles” and in guidebooks of Paris and other parts of France. My lead photo in this post is a sketch from one of their guidebooks, showing the artist’s no-doubt tongue-in-cheek impression of eager Parisians crowding around the publisher’s showroom.

This publishing company was founded in the middle of the 19th century (in 1848 or 1852, depending on which website you believe) and did a thriving business for well over a century, before being acquired by (I believe) Hachette in the 1970s.

Entrance to the Prado Passage, with the ‘Paris Barber Shop’

In 2023, I decided to take a look at the address 18-20 boulevard Saint-Denis, to see what is there now. It turns out that the main thing is the Passage du Prado, which shares the address with the ‘Paris Barber Shop’.

In the Passage du Prado

In the passage itself, there are several more barber shops, lined up side-by-side on your left as you enter from boulevard Saint-Denis. My impression is that each of these barber shops serves a different nationality: Pakistani, Indian and various African nationalities, all of which are well-represented in the neighborhood. As I walked by, the barbers in the various shops were busy trimming beards, especially.

More shops in the Passage du Prado

Other shops in the passage include translation offices, money changing services, money transfer offices, African and South Asian restaurants and mobile phone shops.

Translation offices in the Passage du Prado

The translation offices also seem to be specialized by nationality or at least by region, so several of them can exist side-by-side without taking away each other’s customers.

Later I looked up the Passage du Prado and found that it has been here since 1785, but didn’t get its glass roof until the 1920s. It also got its current name in the 1920s. Before that, it was called the Passage du Bois de Boulogne because that was the name of a popular dance hall that used to be here.

Unlike the better-known passages such as the Galerie Véro-Dodat and the Galerie Vivienne, the Passage du Prado has not been restored to any sort of 19th century elegance (which it might once have had), but remains a bit scruffy while serving the needs of the immigrant communities in the neighborhood.

My photos and text in this post are from 2023.

For more on A. Taride’s turn-of-the-century Paris guidebook,
see my posts Tower of 300 Meters
and Paris Pratique par Arrondissement

9 thoughts on “Passage du Prado in Paris”

  1. Scruffy is perfectly descriptive. I’ll take the Passage Vivienne any day of the week.

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