Les Halles is one of the most historic parts of Paris though it differs from the other central historic areas, Le Marais and the Latin Quarter, in that it has been rebuilt throughout the centuries. In fact, as far back as 1543 François 1er, under royal decree, ordered Les Halles renovated.
See & Do
Les Halles is not just anchored by the world-famous museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou, but one could say it is defined by it. When the structure was completed in 1977 many residents bemoaned it as an eyesore. Though others compared it, wisely, with the Eiffel Tower.
It is surrounded by a pedestrian zone now and nearby is the Théatre du Chatelet and also the Stravinsky Fountain, a good place to read a book outside in the sun.
It was Emile Zola who is credited with first saying that Les Halles is the "belly of Paris." That certainly was accurate during his era, when Les Halles was still a vast covered market that stretched several football field lengths in front of the St. Eustache church. A few restaurants still not to miss include Au Pied de Cochon opened since 1947, offering hearty French fare; Le Bel Canto, also French; and Georges, romantic, contemporary dining.
Today Les Halles is seen mostly as an area of Paris where the youth meet up to do their pub crawls. And while this isn't inaccurate, the nightlife scene of the district offers all ages options.
Several of the city's top jazz clubs are here in the area, and all within walking distance. The Théatre du Châtelet offers dance, drama and musicals and for a truly unique experience, Bel Canto offers opera dinner-theatre.
Long known as the central market area of Paris, the renovations that occurred around about the time as the Centre Pompidou was being installed, included putting in the underground shopping mall that now sits where the old market hall used to be.
In addition to all of these brand name shops, the small pedestrian streets that connect the area into a homogenous whole are dotted with boutiques like Unkut,Pearl and Passage du Desir.