le 28 février 1969

This is our entry in Lost in Translation’s Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past Y3-05.

Inside Église Saint-Eustache in the Les Halles neighborhood of Paris, France, is an interesting and symbolic sculpture called Le départ des fruits et légumes du coeur de Paris, le 28 février 1969 (“The departure of fruits and vegetables from the heart of Paris, February 28, 1969”) by Raymond Mason.  The central marketplace in Les Halles was formalized with permanent shelters in 1183 by King Phillipe II Auguste but outgrew its space by 1969, when it was dismantled; the market was moved outside Paris to become Le Marché d’Intérêt National de Rungis.  The sculpture in the church symbolizes the movement of the fruits and vegetables from Les Halles, pulled in a cart and carried by merchants. The Église Saint-Eustache is included in the sculpture, at the back.

Le départ des fruits et légumes du coeur de Paris, le 28 février 1969


And what became of the site of the former market? For several years following the 1969 closure, the area was known as “le trou des Halles” because it was a huge unsightly hole (trou) in the ground.  In 1977, the railway hub Gare de Châtelet – Les Halles was completed, served by three RER lines (A, B, and D) as well as five Métro lines (1, 4, 7, 11, and 14) through two Métro stations (Châtelet and Les Halles). A partly-underground shopping center, the Forum des Halles, opened in 1979 but has been under renovation since 2010.  (Personal note: Although the Forum des Halles is extremely convenient to reach by RER and Métro, we were not impressed by its offerings and preferred to walk straight through to shops in the streets beyond.)  A garden of about 10 acres has also been under renovation since 2010, but we have not visited Paris since the scheduled 2016 completion.

The photo was taken on October 6, 2015. Specs are:

Olympus TG-4, ISO 500, f/2, 1/30 sec, 4.5 mm

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