17.4.09

Les Halles


This is what until the 70's used to be called the "belly of Paris", when for hygienic and congestion reasons the activities which used to take place here were transferred to new premises in the suburbs (Rungis). What usually goes under the name "Les Halles" was from the 12th century until around 1970 Paris' central market (including wholesales) for fresh products. During the second half of the 19th century the so famous "Baltard pavilions" were constructed, thus demolished during the 70's. Several projects were planned and even launched and abandoned for new activities on this large area. In the meantime, and for years, this was known as "le trou (the hole) des Halles". Finally it became what you may call a park, covering an enormous shopping mall... and often critisized. Many regret the old pavilions; one of the twelve was saved, transferred to a suburb (Nogent) and now used for different cultural events.

The total of the present installations were completed around 1985, but there are now already fixed plans to again remodel the area, the "Canopée" project, which will start in 2010 and probably last a few years. (You can read more about it here.)
One of the previous buildings was left, the "Halle aux Blés (wheat)", built in the 1760's replacing a castle, sometimes used by Royalty, including by Catherine de Medicis, and from her days remain the "astronomical tower" (from 1574). This is today the "Bourse de Commerce".
Awaiting further transformations, the park and the shopping mall are there. On a sunny spring day the park gives quite a nice impression. Some constructions were made to recall the former pavilions. You can find an outdoor labyrinth for kids in jungle-like landscape. The area is quite green ... and there are a lot of flowers.


A cascading series of steel-framed glass windows opens on part of the underground area with annually some 40 million visitors, full of stores, shops, bars, movie theatres, museums, discotheques, a large swimming pool...

On the very lowest levels you will find what is supposed to be the world's largest underground station, Le Châtelet. Long corridors connect you between five metro lines, three high speed (RER) metro lines... If you decide to meet a friend at a metro exit - here you must be very precise, there are 14 of them.
Around "Les Halles" there are some nice older parts and some famous brasseries. One of the neighbouring streets (Rue de la Ferronière) is where one of the most popular French Kings, Henry IV, was killed in 1610 (by François Ravaillac). Immediate neighbours are also the pedestrian Rue Montorgueil (see previous post), the Square des Innocents (see previous post) and of course the Saint Eustache Church (see previous post).

I wish you a nice weekend!

53 comments:

Cezar and Léia said...

Hello dear Peter!
All pictures are so beautiful!I can not say what I prefer more.I loved all!
Great compositions and so fantastic series!
I need to visit this place!I feel like I've never visited Paris because I always fell something different , a better view here!
Have a wonderful weekend!Take care.
Léia :-)

Abe Lincoln said...

Those leaf colors are intense green. Very nice to see things growing on your side of the pond too. We finally had a nice day here.

Dakota Bear said...

Nice pictures as usual. Thank you for taking us on a virtual visit.

Karen said...

Your photos and descriptions are so in depth. Il learn so much from them. The underground shopping area is huge. My friend and I almost got lost down there. Much to see and it was difficult to find our way out. I like it better from the outside.
The streets appear to be much more crowded with people than in December. Spring brings them out, doesn't it?

david mcmahon said...

Paris has captivated many members of my immediate family, Peter.

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

One of my fave place to walk from my appartement as you can see on my images.
I love some of your captures of Les Halles in the spring.

alice said...

Le soir venu, l'impression est quelque peu...différente, n'est-ce pas? Que penses-tu du projet de rénovation?

Olivier said...

ah il y a quand meme une photo du carrousel ;o) tu n'as pas trouve la statue au centre des halles. j'attends de voir le projet final des nouvelles halles de paris, je me demande si a cause de la crise, les projets ne vont pas etre revus a la baisse ou reporter ?

Delphinium said...

la dernière fois que je suis allée aux halles, c'était pour aller à la FNAC; il y avait tellement de monde que j'ai failli m'évanouir.

lyliane said...

Je suis allée à la dernière nuit des halles, super souvenir.Puis j'ai regardé à travers les trous des planches de protection ce fameux trou, puis visité plusieurs fois ce centre.Je ne sais pas pourquoi, mais j'ai toujours eu horreur de ce quartier!ça ira peut être mieux quand il sera refait..

hpy said...

Trop de monde pour moi. Ce n'était pas mon coin préféré non plus dans les 70-80.

Catherine said...

Les Halles sous leur meilleur jour.
Ce n'est toutefois pas toujours aussi rayonnant.
Mais si l'on reste en surface ou aux alentours, c'est plutôt charmant.
J'ai du parti pris pour le centre commercial, j'ai toujours eu horreur des galeries marchandes sous-terraines.

claude said...

Ah, les halles de Paris, Ce devait être quelque chose dans le temps passé !
Avec la rue de la Ferronière, tu nous transportes dans des temps encore plus éloignés.

alice said...

Je viens de trouver ton commentaire au sujet du courrier, j'ai bien ri!

Cergie said...

C'est vrai que tu as déjà posté sur Eustache et sa trompe (l'Ecoute). Je ne savais pas ce quartier si dangereux, heureusement je ne porte ni barbe ni couronne. Le carrousel me rappelle quelque chose...
Ce quartier ce fut et c'est toujours un noeud pour nous. Lorsque nous habitions BourglaReine (RERB) comme à présent à Cergy (RERA). Et puis il y a tant à voir et atteindre en partant à pied en étoile de cette station.

Nathalie said...

Peter, personne ne fait le printemps à Paris aussi bien que toi. Ce vert tendre de la première photo est à croquer ! Tes photos de pelouses bordées de fleurs sont une merveille. On se croirait en "fairy land"!!!

Oui Cergie, j'aime bien Les Halles parce que c'est vraiment le point de départ de tout un tas d'explorations possibles. C'était le ventre de Paris, c'est resté le coeur, ou presque.

Pour ma mère, le centre commercial des Halles est le lieu même où ne pas mettre les pieds. Le quartier a mauvaise réputation. Je n'y ai pas de mauvais souvenirs personnellement mais je dois dire que la foule du samedi me ferait plutot fuir, juste parce que c'est la foule.

Comme toujours, tes détails historiques (la plaque de la dernière photo) s'ajoutent à une perception très actuelle de la ville. La combinaison des deux est ce qui fait le charme de ton blog.

BOn weekend à toi Peter.

JoAnn's-D-Eyes said...

Hi Peter,
Yes the Halles great place to go and to be, I remember all of it and I am glad that I´m able to visit your blog right now, Thanks for the great roundtour. wonderfull how you made the collages, and the RED circle, haha.

happy weekendwishes
JoAnn-Holland

Thérèse said...

Les différentes architectures qui se côtoient, m'ont toujours fascinée. Le quartier des Halles ne fait pas exception. Par contre la foule...que tu as su éviter.
Il est donc plus facile de te laisser faire et laisser raconter.
Chacune de tes photos meriteraient un "post" personnel.
L'industrie des "malls" ici aux US commence "à se casser la figure" pour rester polie.

James said...

Hi Peter, Great post. I love the history of Les Halles but I don't care for the shopping mall although your photos make it look nice. I really like Saint Eustache church and the grounds around Les Halles. When I go to Paris I stay in an apartment in Palais Royal so this is an area that I'm able to walk to.

Ruth said...

Excellent information.

Were you tree climbing?

SusuPetal said...

I can't take my eyes of those green leaves! Greenery, blossoms, spring everywhere!

Have a sunny weekend, Peter!

krystyna said...

What a beautiful and unique place!
I couldn't imagine Les Halles after renovation.

I had a great time being here.
Thanks Peter!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Mo said...

The green is so vibrant. just love it. You've mangaged to make Les Halles look far more exciting than it really is. Brilliant.

ParisBreakfasts said...

Are those recent shots?
Paris looks so Springy!
I do find Les Halles confusing. I must make more of an effort to know it better. It is sad that they changed so much for the worse..
merci

Starman said...

I rode on that manège. All the little kids thought I was funny (or more likely, a bit daft).

Virginia said...

Hummmmm, I'm wondering if this needs to be on our famous LIST! We will chat when I get there about this one. ( It won't be long. I can hardly wait!!) Thanks for all the wonderful photographs and tips, Peter!
V

PS I have LOTS of memory cards this time plus an external hard drive! Woooo

Cutie said...

This is one of the place I did not come across. It's just so beautiful. Thanks for sharing such amazing photos.

Cuckoo said...

Yesssss !! I have been to this place !!

Peter, Do you think one month would be enough to see some of Paris at least ?

Have a happy weekend !!

april said...

That's the city. It changes according to its needs. When I visited paris for the first time (with 18 or so?) I didn't visit Les Halles and I always thought: Next time. But then they had disappeared and there is something of old Paris that I haven't seen and cannot see. Dommage.

Jilly said...

So many marvellous photographs and memories of Les Halles in the 60s. It was the thing to do to go there at night and eat French Onion soup which I did on several occasions - so good! Alas, presumably no more?

JM said...

One more fantastic post, Peter! I was allways fascinated by this metal structure and now you have shown some new perspectives to me.
I also can see FNAC on one of your collages, it has just ruined a lot of book shops in Lisbon, but I suppose the same happened in Paris, right?
Have a great weekend!

Michelle said...

Such beautiful pictures...and the colors are great. Looks like a wonderful place to go.

Eddy said...

Le ventre de paris comme l'a si bien décrit Zola dans son roman, il ne ma,quai que tes photos...

ALAIN said...

Les halles, c'est un sacré mélange d'architecture, d'histoire et de passants. Un point de rendez-vous incontournable. J'aime bien.

Peter said...

Léia:
I guess you can get very different impressions from this place, depending on the season the day, the hour! This was a nice day, afternoon! :-)

Abe:
Yes, the green colours are really welcome! :-)

Dakota Bear:
Hpapy if you are pleased! :-)

Peter said...

Karen:
You are right; you have to choose your day...Sometimes too busy, sometimes quite empty! :-)

David:
It's rather easy to get captivated! :-)

Terie:
I guess you would also have liked the place when if was full of foodstuff! :-)

Peter said...

Alice:
Oui, la place n'a pas la meilleure réputation! Pour le nouveau projet, je veux voir de plus près. Je trouve un peu étonnant qu'on soit obligé de refaire déjà après une vingtaine d'années!

Olivier:
Pour la statue: ... et pourtant, j'ai chercé! :-)

Delphinium:
Un jeudi matin, c'est plus calme! Il ne faut pas aller un samedi après-midi! :-)

Peter said...

Lyliane:
Tu as eu la chance de voir les vraies Halles! Je suis arrivé trôp tard à Paris! :-(

hpy:
C'est plus calme à Fécamp! :-)

Catherine:
Tu as raison! J'ai sans doute un peu embelli! :-)

Peter said...

Claude:
Oui, on est dans le coeur de Paris, l'ancien ... et le moderne! :-)

Alice (bis):
Tant mieux! :-)

Cergie:
Oui, comme j'ai dit dans mont texte: un lieu de rencontre. Seulement, il faut noter qu'on y trouve 14 sorties de métro! :-)

Peter said...

Nathalie:
Merci pour ce longs commentaires! Je pense que tuu as bien resumé les différentes impressions qu'on peut avoir de cette place! :-)

JoAnn:
Happy to see you back despite your connectivity problems! :-)

Thérèse:
Merci pour tou ça! Oui, vive le petit commerce! :-)

Peter said...

James:
I guess we can agree to what you say here! The shopping mall has never been really succesful, papreciated or well visited!

Ruth:
Not really tree climing! There is small "jungle" area, with small bridges and paths! :-)

SusuPetal:
Poor you; the spring is even later than usual up there! :-)

Peter said...

Krystyna:
Sincere thanks for your kind words! :-)

Mo:
Yes, maybe my post makes it look a bit nicer than reality! :-)

ParisBreakfasts:
The photos are about a week old; yes the city is green now!
There are some quite mixed feelings about the place. (I was ther a nice day.) :-)

Starman:
No photos avaialble? :-)

Peter said...

Virginia:
I guess we need a long discussion about the long list! :-)

Cutie:
If you would have been old enough to be here before the 70's, this is the oplace where you would have gone! :-)

Cuckoo:
I have been here for 35 years and have still a lot to discover! :-)

Peter said...

April:
... and I arrived also too late! :-(

Jilly:
You can still find some onion soup, but you may have to to one of the brasseries, like Au Pied de Couchon!

JM:
There is something good and bad about FNAC; they have everything, the service is good, the personnel knows their buisness..., but you are right, it's a danger for ths maller local shops!

Peter said...

Michelle:
Thanks for your kind compliments! :-)

Eddy:
Zola n'avai pas besoin de photos! :-)

Alain:
N'étais pas sur que tu allais aimer! :-)

Bleeding Orange said...

Je trouve que ce coin de Paris est beaucoup plus beau et a l'air plus accueillant sur tes photos qu'il ne l'est en réalité ! Bien joué !

Peter said...

Bleeding Orange:
Ou malhonnêtement joué de ma part ? :-)

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi Peter...thanks for commenting on my blog...we had a fab time...you would of been very welcome at our lunch.

We really need to come back and see more...and judging by your blog..you really know Paris!

Will be calling in again :-)

Peter said...

Anne:
So, next time we have lundh and / or chapagne together! :-)

Marie-Noyale said...

Cela fait bien longtemps que je n'ai vu Les Halles!!
mais point n'est besoin de me deranger ton post est absolument complet!!!
Entre le calme des endroits de verdure et la cohue de la station de metro a 14 sorties!!! C'est comme une petite ville dans la ville!!!

Peter said...

Marie-Noyale:
Je crois que j'ai raté une statue! :-(

Marie Reed said...

I REFUSED to go to Les Halles for years! I was horrendously lost once and avoided it like the plague after that!

Gilles Pourbaix said...

Superb photos. Unfortunately the garden is doomed. The Mayor of Paris has decided to scrap it and replace it by an uninteresting lawn. Have a look at our site: Association Accomplir