Les Halles vue d'ensembleLes Halles - vue générale du quartier

A market place since the 12th century, Les Halles have been rebuilt and enlarged several times to allow for the constant growth of the city of Paris. Before the current, mostly subterranean structure, the much regretted Halles of Baltard were in fact the 19th century architect's second attempt: Napoleon III did not like his first stone buildings at all, and told his prefect Haussmann that he wanted much lighter structures, nothing but "large umbrellas". Haussmann, a school friend of Baltard passed on the message and thus helped Baltard to get his second chance. He went on to create the iron structures that lasted for about a century before they were destroyed in 1971. "A massacre and an urbanistic crime" according to journalist and architecture critic Francis Rambert (in "Paris", sous la direction de Gilles Plazy, Editions Flammarion 2003, ISBN: 2-0801-11655)