Forum des Halles is a vast, mostly underground shopping center in central Paris.
The shopping center’s location has, in fact, been the most central marketplace in the city from as far back as 1183.
Name for the shopping center (a short walk from Notre Dame and Centre Georges Pompidou, by the way) is derived from the ancient wholesale marketplace that used to be here…
…but which was demolished in 1971, to make way for the current shopping mall.
PHOTO: A view down to the shopping center’s modern facilities.
PHOTO: “Porte Berger” entrance to the mall, accessible from Rue Berger.
PHOTO: The shopping mall has been build around a large, street-level central plaza…where you can find water fountains, mosaic artworks, and statues.
Les Halles, the district where the shopping center is located, has been a major commercial area since 1183.
In 1183, King Phillip II had the Les Halles area extended, with new, sheltering buildings constructed…
…to provide facilities for merchants, who were coming from all over the world to sell their wares in central Paris.
The ancient marketplace, which Émile Zola called “The Stomach of Paris“, featured massive stone-and-glass buildings already by 1850s, with the current shopping center (from 1979) taking inspiration from these original structures.
Forum des Halles, a design by architects Claude Vasconi and Georges Penchreach, has a total floorspace of 40,000 m2+, with four underground floors, all surrounding a massive central square.
The shopping center has kept its popularity throughout the years, partly due to having (since 1977) an adjacent transportation center, called “Châtelet-Les-Halles“, one of the most important in Paris.
For getting to the area, you can use the Paris Metro, line M4, with one of the closest stops being at “Les Halles” station…right next to the beautiful Saint Eustache church.