Tourist Guide Paris

Les Halles

The History

Les Halles – ‘The Belly of Paris’ as it was known in the mid-12th Century was a huge marketplace where merchants had to sell all of their goods on market days as was the decree of the king at that time; anything unsold had to be given to the poor. As a result, the merchants would take as few goods with them as possible- hence meaning they also earned less. In the 19th Century huge warehouses made of cast iron were erected in this spot, in which the population could purchase all kinds of merchandise that one’s purse would allow. These ensured that both traders and visitors were always kept dry.

The large Construction Site

Above all in the times of wars, these halls were deemed the largest exchange market as there was barely any money available and a period akin to the Middle Ages was revived here. After the wars the merchants who had managed to somewhat survive the years of war were the first to emerge and revive the trade again. At the end of 1969 these large halls were dismantled bit by bit and re-erected 30 kilometres further south. Several plans which had presented numerous ways in which to use this vast square disappeared back into the drawers – at which this large square was named ‘ The hole of Paris’ given that it resembled a giant construction site.

The New Beginning

At the end of the 1980’s the plans of a whole team of architects were translated into action so that this unsightly construction site could finally disappear. A large glass complex was built – the centre of which became a vast open space in which to linger and relax. Many shops, including several cafes and cinemas filled this complex which in no time at all - due to the popularity of visiting cinemas became the meeting point for youth.

The Attractions

One of the most popular attractions is the Cousteau Oceanic Centre which enables many visitors to gain their first impressions of life under the water. In addition, short films about the life works of the researcher Jacques Cousteau are shown in order to show visitors the beauty of life. For school outings, an important physical contribution in the ‘Musée Francais de l’Holographie’ can be seen in which one can easily observe how holograms arise and how these affect the audience. Directly beneath this giant complex is one of the largest and most important transport hubs in Paris at which numerous subways and Metros stop. Just around the corner lies one of the entertainment districts of Paris – the Rue Saint- Denis.