This gorgeous fountain (the only remaining Renaissance-era fountain in Paris) stands on the Square des Innocents near the massive flamboyant-gothic church of St-Eustache in Les Halles, which is in the very center of Paris, the 1st arrondissement.
Originally, this area encompassed the Cimetière des Innocents (yes, you read about it in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles - where the vampire Armand's coven resided). A very wicked area at one point, prostitutes used to bring their customers here to do their deed amongst the reeking decomposing bodies. According to Thirza Vallois' Around & About Paris the constitution of the soil was perfectly suited to quickly decompose bodies - supposedly all but the skeletons was completely obliterated within 3 weeks! However, the stench of the bodies grew so bad they decided to move the remains to a new area. Hence, the birth of the Catacombs.
But now this is where you will find Parisian skater dudes performing their stunts & tricks.
This area is very popular with teens. Nearby is the underground Forum Les Halles shopping complex.
Mom's with teens in tow to Paris take note:
There is a McDonald's close by on rue Berger!
Photo: April 2003
One of the wonderful things about French churches is that they are still active parishes. And that in places modern art has been added. Here is a tryptich by the American artist known more for his bold posters, Keith Haring. It's just tucked in a side chapel.
This sculpture of a VERY large head lies in a plaza between St. Eustache and one of the entrances to Les Halles shopping mall. It seems to serve many purposes in better weather -- children love to climb on it -- and graffiti "taggers" like to leave their mark also! It is titled l?Ecoute (?The Listener?) and is by the artist Henri de Miller
I've added a few more photos from my October 2005 trip. This time the sun was out.
I found the Etienne-Marcel metro stop to be the easiest way to access the St. Eustache/Les Halles area.
Another beautiful gothic church next to the Les Halles.
I liked walking along the Park and the statue next to it, is incredible. I do not know why or what is the sculpture over there, but I loved it
Next to it is the bourse
One thing to remember as a tourist anywhere, but especially in Paris, is that most of the churches you visit as a "sight" are working parishes. St-Eustache is no exception. For example on the parish page listed below there is a link you can follow if you are interested in a wedding or baptism there!
We continue our tour in the 2nd arrondissement in the area behind the old Les Halles marketplace and behind Eglise St-Eustache on the rue Etienne Marcel at the museum of the Tour Jean sans Peur (Tower of Jean without Fear).
1) Nice photo of the tower juxtaposed against the wall.
2) You can see a portion of the wall standing next to the medieval Tour Jean sans Peur located at 22, rue Etienne Marcel.
3) Wall holding up building or vice versa.
4) Tour Jeans sans Peur - Jean sans Peur built this structure in order to evade his enemy, in particular his cousin, Duke Louis d'Orléans, King Charles IV brother whom he did eventually assassinate. He holed himself up in the 4th floor of the tower and when his enemies came too close he was able to escape out of a window via the adjoining Philippe-Auguste wall.
5) Plaque on the Tour Jean sans Peur; it briefly states:
Tower named Jean sans Peur, ancient Hôtel d’Artois, erected on the wall of Philippe-Auguste.
Here are 2 more locations we didn't get to that day as we ran out of time:
rue du Jour
rue du Louvre
Photos: November 2007 & February 2006
Built between the 16th and the 17th century, Saint Eustache is one of the largest churches in Paris (the plan and the the dimensions are those of a cathedral).
It used to be the 'gardener's church' but has lost its vocation when the Halles (the whole food market) moved to Rungis.
It's now mostly know for its famous organ concerts.
The inside is presently undergoing serious renovations.
Open monday-friday : 9h30-19h, saturday : 10h-19h, sunday : 9h-19h15
Organ concerts: every sunday at 17h30
2 Impasse Saint Eustache - (1st)
Metro/RER : Chatelet-Les Halles
The picture shows new and old form of light -- a projected cross below a window and the traditional votive candles lit both in memory and for specific prayers.
The music in St Eustache is reported to be excellent -- the organ itself is of note -- built between 1986-88 by the Dutch firm Van Den Huevel. Attending a concert or mass there is high on my list! See the website below for all the organ information that you would want ;)
The Renaissance-type facade of St. Eustache belies the gothic marvel that lies behind. It's proximity to the former wholesale food market of Paris, Les Halles, made it the church for those workers. In both the window and the painted bas relief in the picture you can see the ties to the food industry. In the lower left section of the window you can see the word "charcuterie" :)))
Right next to the modern shopping centre of Les Halles, you will find the second largest church in Paris: the Saint-Eustache. It is a Gotic building, based on the older Notre Dame. Constuction was started in the year 1532 and took more then 100 years. The current building is 105 meters long and 43 meters wide: an enormous structure.
What else? "Sunking" Louis XIV got his First Holy Communion here in this church, poet Moliere is buried here and very extraordinairy: on of the two towertops of the front facade is missing. I tried to find out why, but I still don't know...
Between the church and the Forum Les Halles you can find a remarkable statue made by Henri de Millers, called l'Écoute. L'Écoute means "the hearing", and that is what the hand and the big head show you.
the area of les halles in the 1er arrondissement is definitely worth seeing. the forum les halles is a gorgeous building situated in the heart of paris. this area is much less touristy and there are some wonderful cafes and brasseries - i got a 3 course meal for 13 euros!!!
the church st eustache is lovely inside and worth seeing. the garden outside is lovely to sit down and rest your feet. lovely atmosphere and definitely worth a visit.
also shops in this area are rather inexpensive if you're fond of your shopping!
Les Halles. Most people avoid this place in downtown because it's so trashy but it's a big gathering place for young people, and the stores aboveground in the area are good places to meet people and get information about the hip hop scene in Paris. (French hip hop is great!) Also, there are breakdancers by the swimming pool, but only in evenings.
Curious facts my friend Brian told me: condoms sold in Les Halles cost 1 /3 of condoms sold in the rest of the city. There are policemen here but always running around in pairs or triplets, never alone.
a wonderful area, near Les Halles, a wonderful church with history of France, see by Rue du Jour 75001 , metro les Halles
great organ music too, see more info at their site
The area is full of hotels and restos, plus a new renovated forum des Halles.
the Forum of the Halles. I just like it, even if modern. There are plenty of shops, cafés, restaurants... people from different nationalities. It just feels like being abroad sometimes, so each time I go to Paris I try and spend a few hours there. My guess is that most Parisioan people will find it an ugly sight, though.
For those who like to visit old religious relics but don't want to mess with the busy touristy ones...go to the church that is located a little
behind Centre Pompidou. The metro station Les Halles is nearby. The street name is Rue