Les Halles: Inside photos of the bygone marketplace that was known as ‘The Belly of Paris’, 1956

These photos show Les Halles, the former fresh food market in Paris, which was sprawled randomly in the center of the city and was known as the "Bailey of Paris".

Once upon a time by the cries of fruit-sellers, fish-sellers, butchers, and florists, with the smell of bouquets of brightly colored flowers, with bunches of freshly baked bread, and with flocks of market-goers, today no trace There is a 900-year-old market place that used to stand in Les Halles in the center of Paris.

During the twelfth century, a Royal Decree established the capital's great market there. But the area was not suitable for the market, as the city was developing very rapidly. Les Halles was born "properly" only during the nineteenth century.

Les Halles de Baltard were twelve pavilions of an avant-garde architecture, made of cast iron and glass. They were designed by the famous architect Victor Baltard.

These pavilions remained for a hundred years. Each of them had a specialty, such as fish, vegetables, meat, while many other market stalls occupied the streets.

While the construction was considered practical by 19th- and 20th-century standards, their paint-encrusted rivets and soaring beams with glass awnings have come to represent the fading beauty of the fin de sicle.

The markets were most interesting at night when the meat and fish markets went up in full steam. Thousands of tons of meat and fish were bought, harvested, traded and sold in the middle of the night.

Sadly, the success of the market was the root of its downfall. The volume of traffic to and from the market began to cause serious bottlenecks in the city center, and in the 1960s the site was set for destruction.

Unable to compete in the new market economy and in need of large-scale renovations, the colorful atmosphere once associated with the bustling area of ​​merchant stalls disappeared in 1971, when Les Halles was demolished; The wholesale market was relocated to the suburb of Rungis.

The two pavilions of the glass and cast iron market were torn down and re-erected elsewhere; One in the Paris suburb of Nogent-sur-Marne, the other in Yokohama, Japan.

The site was to become the point of convergence of the RER, a network of new express underground lines that were completed in the 1960s.

Three lines running south, east and west from the city were to be extended and connected to a new underground station.

For many years, the site of the markets was a huge open pit, nicknamed "Le Trou des Halls" (Trout = Hole), which was regarded as an eyesore at the foot of the historic Church of Saint-Eustache. Construction was completed in 1977 on the new urban railway hub of Paris, Chatlet-les-Halls.

The Forum des Halls, a partially underground multi-storey commercial and shopping center designed by Claude Vasconi and Georges Pencrac, opened on the east end of the site on September 4, 1979, in the presence of Paris Mayor Jacques Chirac. And it is still there today.

A public garden spread over four hectares was opened in 1986. Many of the surrounding streets had pedestrian access.

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