'Les Halles', as it is more commonly known, is a refreshingly different shopping complex from those to which I am accustomed. Where the typical shopping mall in Australia is a large enclosed and generally windowless box, Les Halles is built down the sides of a large hole in the ground, in a cascading series of glazed inward-looking levels. It was built in 1979 as a refurbishment of what had been the old markets area for Paris.
I have seen descriptions saying it is ugly, but I found it quite delightful and airy: as with so many places, it seems beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Having said that, it must be said that in some parts it is beginning to look a little down-at-heel and due for some refurbishment - that applies particularly to the outside areas.
In the central courtyard, I was intrigued by the large (fibreglass?) coloured cow - there were numerous such 'cow' statues around Paris during my visit, I have since learned they are part of a travelling 'art' event called vache-art in Paris, cow-parade in English - it has visited and is visiting many cities around the world. If you wish to learn more, go to www.cowparade.com .
At the lowest level, there are connections to a major rail station for a Métro line and 3 RER lines.
What to buy: Many of the shops seem to be focussed on womens clothing - then again, that applies almost anywhere it seems, and Paris is a home of fashion after all! Likewise, from a mere male's perspective, I thought the prices looked somewhat high. I did find a shop which had some items of interest as souvenirs, but they were not open when I visited.
Main photo - Les Halles from an upper level, looking in.
Photo 1 - From a lower level, looking out across the courtyard to St Eustache church
Photo 3 - Street level view of the outside of the complex
Photo 4 - The strange coloured "vache-art" (there is a play on words, in French) sculpture in the courtyard.
This is a huge underground shopping complex. Their motto is "Nous faisons tout pour vous rendre la view plus agréable." There are 180 shops on 5 levels, where you can buy clothes, housewares, gifts, videos, and more. There are also restaurants and cinemas.
At the place of the original Halles, the huge food market for Paris till 1969, a huge underground shopping centre is built.
This shoppingcentre is built in different levels and is designed around 'a huge crater', forming a central square. From this square starts a huge labyrinth of underground streets with shops, snackbars and restaurants.
Except shops the Forum des Halles houses also several cultural functions.
What to buy: There are some huge stores with enormous collections of books and music. I found here for example several French books about the Sahara I was looking for.
Elegant? Fashionable? Suave? Chic? Stylish? Sophisticated? Distinguished? Cultured? Refined?
Forget it! This place is popular in both senses of the word, first because lots of people come here and second because they aren't necessarily members of the affluent upper strata of Parisian society. In fact most of them aren't Parisians at all, but come here on the RER trains from various unfashionable suburbs.
Until 1971 this was the site of Les Halles, the central wholesale food market, with large iron and glass buildings that were constructed in the 1850s, 60s and 70s.
Les Halles were long considered one of the quintessential sites/sights of Paris, so much so that as a timid young student in the early 1960s I summoned up all my courage and went over to try the traditional Parisian Onion Soup with bread and melted cheese at one of the typical workers' restaurants. The soup was really fine, as was the dinky little restaurant, and to this day I'm still a big fan of Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée -- if I ever write a restaurant tip that's what it will be about. (Or maybe Bel Canto, but don't hold your breath, okay?)
In 1971 the old Les Halles market was torn down and replaced by the world's largest underground station, "Châtelet – Les Halles", which is served by three regional RER lines (A, B and D) and by five of the traditional Paris Métro lines (1, 4, 7, 11 and 14).
On top of the station they built a shopping center, Forum Les Halles, which is where I used to go to rent bicycles from Roue Libre, and where I still go sometimes to get concert tickets at the fnac store.
In the middle of Les Halles, as the centerpiece of the entire architectural complex, they created -- a big hole in the ground, which I believe was intended to let some daylight into the nether regions of the complex.
Now that thirty years have passed I think it would be fair to say that a big hole in the ground is not a very good thing to have as the centerpiece of an architectural complex. Various plans have been proposed to remedy this, and the architect David Mangin has been entrusted with the daunting task of rearranging and upgrading Les Halles -- and resolving the conflicting interests of commuters, railroad unions, local residents, politicians and everyone else involved.
Mangin is well aware of the importance and difficulty of this project. He has been quoted as saying, only half jokingly: “Les Halles is the centre of Paris, and Paris is the centre of France, and France is the centre of the world”.
Second photo: Looking down in Forum Les Halles, 2008.
Third photo: Looking through Forum Les Halles towards the church Saint-Eustache, 2008.
Fourth photo: As of 2013 there is an observation point where you can go up and see how the construction is coming along.
Fifth photo: Progress on building the new canopy, 2013.
I didn't mind entering this mall several times in my last visit - while the women browsed the shops, I was compensated wit a couple of good pictures of the monuments and gardens around, and the shopping mall itself.
Please don't ask what they sell inside - the same articles, the same brands, the same (high) prices as anywhere else in the global consumer market. I think!
Les Halles was originally the wholesale food market for Paris. After its move to Rungis they developed a shopping center, mostly underground. Now, after that is not working very well, they are talking about a major redevelopment. See the website for more information.
The image on the right is of the Bourse de Commerce. On the left is a window into a stairway garden. The day we walked through to avoid the rain, the part we saw felt very empty and almost abandoned.
Built in 70ss, this 4 store building is now one of the bigest shopping centers in PAris.
You can also find there cinemas and some museums.In the center of the Forum standes quit interesting
sculpture of Hoolio Silva,it really looks interesting and extraordinary:)Check it out, u won't regret...
What to buy: You can buy almost everything there
This is your basic shopping mall with middle of the road level clothing, not too expensive, not too cheap, but cheaper than many stores on the street. I found several stores to shop in. The most intriguing thing about the place was the design. While slightly dated, I enjoyed exploring the grounds, particularly coming out of the food court area to the surface. The mall is a little confusing to find your way around once inside, but it gave me the opportunity to look at things more than once. There were far less people in the mall than in other places, plus it is protected from weather being that it is underground. Food court was lame, but the bathroom in the restaurant was free to walk in and.... I would eat above ground nearby.
I must note that I liked this place much better than Galleries Lafayette, which, while a beautiful building, was a mess of people and stuff everywhere, too chaotic.
Open every day but Sunday 10-7:30. The is also a parking garage nearby
Le Forum des Halles is a large, multi-storey shopping centre located off the back streets behind Rue de Rivoli on the Right Bank. Lots of top names are here at what I found to be very affordable prices like Sephora Cosmetics, H&M, FNAC and many more. It's worth a few hours of your time
there, you will find books, music, home furnishing, men's, sporting, kid's and women's clothes, computers(although not the cheapest), shoes and toys...
also a huge meeting point.
walk along rue Rambuteau from Beabourg to Les halles or vice versa to see more shoe shops...
also take time to walk in the small garden above les Halles and go to the church St Eustache... and then have a beer in one of the surrounding pubs.
from les halles, take rue de Rivoli towards Concorde, you can shop even more ! on your way you will see the Louvre and then at Concorde you can visit museum du jeu de paume(modern art) after the Tuileries Garden !
A collection of many stores in a "shopping" center, the Forum is a great place to shop. I like their clothing and shoe stores and their specialty shops. I found myself here one year looking for a "duffle" bag to carry back home some purchases that didn't fit in my luggage.
I've also purchases small electronic items that I use only while I'm in Europe. The prices are quite good.
What to buy: It's a shopping center and they have all kinds of stores like clothing, shoe, electronics, specialty shops.
I purchases an inexpensive duffle bag to store my purchases that didn't fit in my luggage. I've also purchased small electronics that I take back with me every time I visit any European city.
What to pay: Every reasonable.
Everything you need and want, you can find in Les Halles. Near the Centre Pompidou and the Louvre, partly underground.
What to buy: What to buy? Clothes, shoes, electronics, music, books: you name it: they´ve got it!
Think of Paris,come to mind Eiffel next shopping.. Des Halles underground shopping centre,you find everything under one place....lot of shops....Paris you must buy perfume ..
Paintings out side of main buliding i find good shop ,where you can buy paintings,prices seems to be reasonabel..
It has direct acces to metro station.
What to buy: Clothes,Perfume,beauty products, fashion accessories,chocolates.
What to pay: Depends
Forum des Halles is the most convenient 'shopping centre' in Paris. It's essentially an underground maze of shops and cafes, with many chain shops. In general it's not cheap, but offers an easier way to shop - Paris is renowned for haute couture fashion etc, but it can be difficult to find an area in Paris that offers a variety of shops under one roof. Be careful of petty thieves in the area surrounding Forum des Halles, especially in the evening.
What to buy: There's a very quaint (but pricy) tea shop in Forum des Halles, along with many catalogue shops and shops such as Sephora, which offer toiletries and perfumes.
What to pay: It's not cheap, but some shops are reasonable.
A very distinct shopping plaza, the forum is a series of three concentric squares each progressively smaller and deeper underground than its predecessor. The final level connects to the metro and RER. This is a good stop during inclement weather.