A small castle by Sena river was demolished under Napoleon's orders, creating a large square. In its centre a fountain was built, with a central pillar topped by Victory's statue.
Nowadays, taking advantage of its central location, Chatelet is a very important transport hub, with the biggest underground station for train and metro.
In a lovely quarter, a modern building is surrounded by history and classical monuments. It is a shopping mall that didn't impress me but... I'm not a shopping expert, however, Fernanda is THE shopping expert, and she didn't dedicate to it the usual eternity.
I really appreciated more the outside, the contrast with the quarter, and its light effects.
The Place du Châtelet on the right bank of the Seine is unique in that it is flanked by two large and (from a distance) identical-looking theaters, both of which belong to the city of Paris.
The one on the right is the Théâtre de la Ville, which is where the great actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1943) used to hold forth, in fact the theater was named after her from 1949 to 1967, and one of the cafes on the ground floor still bears her name.
Spoken drama is still an important part of their program, but they also do numerous dance productions, classical music concerts and "musics of the world" featuring recitals by musicians from India and the Middle East.
The one on the left is the Théâtre du Châtelet, which used to be a municipal opera house but now presents mainly musicals, concerts and dance performances (as of 2013).
Second photo: Season poster at the Théâtre de la Ville.
Third photo: The Théâtre du Châtelet as seen from across the bridge on the Ile de la Cite, with a river barge going past.
Fourth photo: Place du Châtelet as seen from the Théâtre de la Ville.
Old postcard views on Carthalia.
It is a very lively place, with movie theaters, cafés, and brasseries. It offers a magnificent view of the Palais de Justice. The square owes its name to an ancient fortress, the Grand Châtelet, built for defending the Pont au Change bridge which it overlooked, but it was then destroyed under the rule of Napoleon I. The square's present aspect, however, is due to Napoleon III. In the centre, there is the Fontana du Châtelet fountain decorated with sphinxes and statues, and with foundations from 1858. The column, dating from 1808, was erected in remembrance of Napoleon I's victories.
Chatelet Les Halles is a large area in the centre of Paris, most renowned for the giant underground shopping centre, that also stretches to the streets! The church Saint Eustache is located in the area les halles, and it is also home to the Trade Office, as well as many restaurants and squares. There is also a 20 screen cinema, a swimming pool and just a lot of space to sit and chill...and have ice cream! I would recommend visiting this area for the fantastic shopping and delicious eateries!
The Theatre de Ville (once the Sarah Bernhardt Theatre) stands opposite the Theatre Musical de Paris (Th. Chatelet) with a matching facade but longer, and the Fountain du Palmier at the center of the Place. Away from the Seine, around the corner is a square with the Tour St.-Jacques. Somewhere nearby there is also a merry-go-round but they seem to move it each time I go by. (There is one near the Eiffel Tower that seems to stay put).
I was desperate to have a french tattoo and so asked everyone where to get one. Chatelet was the place! Although I haven't got my french tattoo (yet), it's a lively area; like Central Paris or something. This area is good to explore Parisian culture and the french lifestyle.
There are few meusems and parks within a walking distance but didn't bother to visit until a french guy grabbed me and showed me around,lol.
The Forum des Halles is an enormous underground shopping centre and hardl to avoid when walking around in this part of Paris. I am not really into shopping (yes, really!!), so normally I would avoid a place like this as much as possible. But, as the Forum les Halles is also known for having quite a few sculptures, fountains, and mosaics, I couldn't resist to stop by. But what a dumb choice that was! If I could redo my visit, I certainly wouldn't go here. Yes, I found some of the sculptures, but they were just a big disappointment.
In the first photo you can see the "Pygmalion" by Julio Silvia, located inside the Forum des Halles. This was one of the sculptures I was looking forward to see and my main reason to visit Les Halles. I really liked the sculpture, but I absolutely disliked the state it was in. The main part of the sculpture was covered in bird droppings, which didn't make this work of art look very appealing. In an attempt to capture some of the emotion of the sculpture I zoomed in quite a bit with my camera, resulting in this close-up photo. I am quite happy with the end result of the photo, but it does disguise the truth quite a bit. So my advice is: don’t visit Les Halles if you are not a fan of shopping! Although the sculptures look quite beautiful on photos, the lack of maintenance has destroyed quite a bit of their appeal.
From the Marais we walked towards the west and entered into the areas also known as Beaubourg and Les Halles. I am not sure what to think of this part of Paris, I guess you love it or hate it. And I leaned more to the latter part then to the first. Although I did enjoy some features of it and it certainly could be called 'interesting'.
Beaubourg and Les Halles is a clash between modern and old, and I found it rather confusing. One moment I was standing in front of the modern architecture of the Centre Pompidou and a few steps later I was thrown back in time again, looking at the Fontaine des Innocents. But what drove me away from this area the most, was the more obvious poverty on the streets and neglect of the area. The shopping centre Les Halles for example, was once a pompous piece of architecture, but now it seemed to have had its best days. Ah well, I guess you get the drift by now: Beaubourg and Les Halles just didn't mesmerize me as much as the Marais did. But as I said it is 'interesting' and also lively, and therefore worth a visit. Hahaha, but in my case it would be a short one ;-)
Shopping at the Forum les Halles
If you come to Paris with teens in tow one of the best teen hangouts to bring your kids to is the Forum Les Halles shopping center near the flamboyant gothic church, St-Eustache. The place is just teeming with teens & young adults. The gardens are up top, the mall is down below with tons of shops geared to teens. So if your kids are looking for something French to bring home (besides the ubitquitous Paris t-shirts) then this is the place to be.
For centuries, this area was the Les Halles market area where all the food from different parts of France came in daily (it's since moved outside the city to Rungis). Many shops, bars & restaurants stayed open all night long in deference to the workers who came in during the wee hours of the morning. If you've ever seen the Audrey Hepburn/Cary Grant movie Charade, you'll remember this spot was a scene where Reggie meets up with Bartholomew "near St-Eustache" for a late-night supper of onion soup in one of the all-night brasseries. Indeed there are still many late-night places to eat at such as Au Pied de Cochon, which is open 24/7 year-round, and A la Tour de Montlhéry (Chez Denise) at 5 rue des Prouvaires that caters to the open-all-night Les Halles image in the effort to retain its former flavor.
Rue Montogeuil runs off this area and still is a great foodstuff shopping street with shops open late. Avoid rue St-Denis late at night as this is a street where hookers hang out. However, rue Montorgeuil is quite safe and tourist friendly.
The website has a great interactive boutique menu so that you can decide where you want to shop before you get there. Run your mouse over the map to see which boutiques are where.
Photos: April 2003 & Feb 2006
In the aisle of St Eustache's Church close to the site of the former wholesale fruit and vegetable markets, is a carving by Raymond Mason of the departure of the workers towards the clean and modern facilities at Rungis in the southern suburbs.
This carving, called "The departure of the fruit and vegetables from the heart of Paris on the 28th February 1969", is quite remarkable, and apparently portrays a number of well-known characters.
Raymond Mason, born in Britain, has lived in France for the last 50 years, much of it in the neighbourhood of the "Halles" and came to know and to love the atmosphere, frenzied and hearty as it was, and to know intimately many of the people working there.
This carving is protected by a high railing, and I had to take some half dozen photos and merge them together to get any result, so apologies for the quality! Also it has been compressed horizontally, so you get a better idea with the larger version
I'm afraid this was closed when I was here but it was great to see it. I hear there are over 180 stores here. The whole place is pretty amazing. We came up from the Les Halles metro station into a glass roofed area that eventually wound its way up to street level. On the way we saw a lot of modern art including the pygmalion sculpture.