Forum des Halles
Lonely Planet review for Forum des Halles
Don’t get too excited. Tragically, the Forum des Halles is no longer a market, rather an unspeakably ugly, four-level, underground shopping centre constructed in 1970s glass-and-chrome style after Paris’ main wholesale food market dating to the early 12th century was moved to the southern suburb of Rungis, near Orly.
The upside is, dramatic change (for the better) is afoot. The dodgy park and dated arbours topping the underground shopping mall have been demolished, and cranes, diggers and an army of builders are busy at work creating La Canopée – a thoroughly contemporary, glass-topped, curvilinear building by architects Patrick Berger and Jacques Anziutti, inspired by the natural shade canopy of a rainforest. Spilling out from the translucent, leaflike rooftop will be state-of-the-art gardens by landscape designer David Mangin with pétanque (a variant on the game of bowls) courts and chess tables, a central patio and pedestrian walkways. Final completion will be 2016.
The mall itself will receive a relatively light renovation in stages; hence business should continue more or less as usual, with minimal disruption to city’s largest metro/RER hub. Follow the project at www.parisleshalles.fr or pop into the information centre on place Jean du Bellay, a pretty square pierced by the Fontaine des Innocents (1549). The multi-tiered Renaissance fountain is named after the Cimetière des Innocents, a cemetery formerly on this site from which two million skeletons were disinterred after the Revolution and transferred to the Catacombes. The square buzzes in summer with street musicians, fire-eaters and other street performers.