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Les Halles

Metro : Les Halles
les halles de paris
For more than 800 years Les Halles was the “stomach” of Paris (so named by Zola in one of his novels). All the fresh produce required by the capital was to be found in this mythical location. The quarter, whilst bustling during the day, was most lively at night, with fishmongers, butchers and farmers emerging in the streets to sell their wares to residents and restaurateurs alike. During the 1960’s it became clear that the markets were too big a burden for the continually expanding city, the fleet of trucks required to stock them causing regular traffic chaos. A decision was made to move the markets to a more practical location well outside the city limits, an enormous replacement being constructed at Rungis in 1969. This meant of course the destruction of the historic quarter of Les Halles with its metallic architecture so typical of the 19th century, a prime example of this the iron Pavillions of the architect Baltard. To fill the literal “hole” left behind covering 7 hectares planners chose the “Forum des Halles”, a modern shopping centre spread over four subterranean levels; several hundred boutiques and department stores focused mainly on clothing. On the surface gardens were planted from the Eglise Saint-Eustache to the Centre Beaubourg, amongst which one can find the Pavillion des Arts, a futuristic exposition hall created in 1983 in homage to the ancient Halles of Baltard. Today, from the Fountain des Innocents to the rue Montorgueil Les Halles is an exlusively pedestrian quarter, where one can picnic in summer, shop all seasons of the year and always find a coffee, beer or meal in the many surrounding cafés, bars and restaurants.

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