Last summer while in Paris I visited the renovation site of Les Halles, where there was a wonderful exhibit of old photos documenting the history of this grand old market.
Once known as "the belly of Paris" Les Halles remained the largest & most important open air market in France up until the mid twentieth century. The 800 year old steel & glass pavilions were the hub of food distribution for the entire city.
Bustling with activity the market was the mother of all French markets & the heart beat of the city of lights.
However, the overriding success of the market came to be it's eventual downfall. Due to traffic congestion bottlenecking the city center & the growing problems of sanitation, the market was shut down & moved to outlying suburbs.
The 1960's saw the beautiful pavilions torn down leaving a gapping whole in the landscape that remained vacant for several years to come.
Redevelopment of the area was controversial from the start. Parisians looked on with skeptical curiosity as the "modern" underground shopping mall & metro station began construction.
Unfortunately the hope for the new commercial space was never realized. Claustrophobic & difficult to navigate the colossal design was never embraced by the public & slowly fell into urban decline.
Today Les Halles is undergoing yet another transformation in hopes of uplifting & revitalizing one of Paris' most historic ares. The renovation should be completed by 2016. I look forward to returning to Paris at that time to see just how it has all turned out.
I am linking up with Paulita & her Dreaming of France meme.
The photos above were my shots of some of the oversized photos in the exhibition at the construction site.