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Inside Les Halles, the bygone marketplace known as ‘The Belly of Paris’


From the Middle Ages to modernity, the central market of Paris was one of the city’s liveliest locales, as farmers, fishermen, butchers, and customers commingled among tons upon tons of fresh produce, meat, fish, and other goods.

In 1870, 12 arching glass and iron pavilions designed by architect Victor Baltard were erected to encapsulate the market — Les Halles.

The teeming arcades provided a central location for Parisians for business and distraction, not to mention the setting for Émile Zola’s novel La Ventre de Paris (The Belly of Paris).

The halls were ultimately torn down in the 1970s as the wholesale marketplace shifted out of the city center.

Today, the location is home to a subterranean shopping mall and the city’s busiest subway station.



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