Le départ des fruits et légumes du cœur de Paris: The Loss of Paris’s Les Halles

In 1969, Paris’s ancient central market of Les Halles, having grown enormously, and congested to boot, moved to Rungis, just on the outskirts of the city. Émile Zola wrote of the old Les Halles in his The Belly of Paris, volume three of Zola’s twenty novels examining the French bourgeoisie, civil conflict, hunger, and poverty.

Les Halles dated back to at least 1183. The nearby church of St. Eustache, where Louis XIV received his first communion, contains one of the most interesting and startling sculptures ever seen in a church: Raymond Mason’s ” Le départ des fruits et légumes du cœur de Paris, le 28 février 1969” (The Departure of Fruits and Vegetables from the Heart of Paris, February 28, 1969).

Raymond Mason's "Le Départ des fruits et Légumes ... "
Raymond Mason's "Le Départ des fruits et Légumes ... "

What Les Halles used to look like:

Les Halles

More of the old look:

Les Halles 1954


Edouard Jean Dambourgez, Cream and Cheese Merchants of Les Halles-xx-Private-Collection
Old Postcard


And now Rungis, nice, new, and clean, with exotic foods from around the world:

Photo credit: Rungis International

Rungis, the larger view:

Photo credit: Rungis International

© 2011 C. Bertelsen



  • I am so sad that I never got to see the original Les Halles! Ever since first hearing about (and reading about it) I have been fascinated by it. I’ve been to Rungis, and it is amazing to see but it doesn’t quite have the magic that I imagine Les Halles must have had. Thanks for the post — that Mason painting is quite amazing. Kind of says it all!


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