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 Galerie Vivienne

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    The Galerie Vivienne was constructed in 1823 by Marchoux, at the time president of the Chambre des Notaires; he acquired for this purpose no. 6 rue Vivienne, no. 4 rue des Petits Champs, and the Passage des Petits-Pères, which were all joined together in a single complex just behind the Bibliothèque Nationale. Initially called after Marchoux, the arcade soon changed its name to Galerie Vivienne and was opened to the public in 1826 as a commercial area that housed fashionable shops. Because of its central location it quickly became very popular and was much frequented.

    While Berlioz was locked in the buildings of the Institut de France writing his cantata Sardanapale for the Prix de Rome of 1830, the July revolution broke out; as soon as he had finished his cantata, Berlioz went out in the streets of Paris to share in the extraordinary atmosphere. In his Memoirs (ch. 29) he gives a vivid description of those heady days. One event he relates in detail is his leading of the crowds assembled in the Galerie Vivienne, recently opened, in a singing of the Marseillaise, which he had just arranged for chorus and orchestra. At first the crowd did not respond to the singing of Berlioz’s small group, but then, as Berlioz relates: 

At the 4th stanza I could no longer contain myself and shouted ‘For God’s sake, sing!’ The crowd then roared their Aux armes, citoyens! with the precision and power of a trained choir. You must remember that the arcade which ends at the rue Vivienne was full, that the one leading to the rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs was also full, as was the area of the central dome, and that these four or five thousand voices were packed in a reverberant area that was closed, to the right and the left by the wooden shutters of the shops, above by the glass of the roof, and below by the flagstones of the arcade. Remember also that the majority of these men, women, and children were still breathless with the excitement of the previous night’s fighting. You can then imagine the impact of this electrifying refrain. For myself, I literally fell to the ground, and my little band of singers, terrified by this explosion, was struck completely dumb, like birds after a thunderclap.

All the photographs reproduced on this page were taken by Michel Austin; the engraving is our own collection. © Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin. All rights of reproduction reserved.

Inside the arcade

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The entrance on the side of rue des Petits Champs

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The entrance to the arcade on the side of rue Vivienne

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The above entrance in 1825

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A historical notice on the Galerie 
outside one of the entrances

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(Large view of the notice alone)

© Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin for all the pictures and information on this page.

Copyright notice: The texts, photos, images and musical scores on all pages of this site are covered by UK Law and International Law. All rights of publication or reproduction of this material in any form, including Web page use, are reserved. Their use without our explicit permission is illegal.

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