I went to Europe for the first time in the late 1960s with my husband Alan on a belated honeymoon. We spent a few days in Copenhagen where we saw Victor Borge in concert in Tivoli Gardens. And then a week in Paris where our hotel room reeked of garlic – thanks, we soon discovered, to the foul breath of the chambermaid!
But of course everywhere we went and everything we did in Paris was a treat, including our pre-dawn visit to Les Halles.
The enormous glass and iron structure that housed Les Halles, the retail and wholesale Parisian food and flower market, was built in the 1870s, an architectural wonder in fin de siecle style, and was the setting of Emile Zola’s novel of that decade entitled Le Ventre de Paris, and translated as The Belly of Paris.
Les Halles was the bustling hub of food distribution in the city for almost a century with tons of fresh fish and meat bought, butchered, and sold during the night hours while most of Paris slept. But by the 1970s, several years after our own nighttime visit, Les Halles was no longer able to compete in the new market economy and was also in need of massive repairs. It was decided to move its operations elsewhere, and the iconic Parisian structure was demolished.
But years earlier as Alan walked around taking pictures, I explored the market on my own, enjoying the hustle and bustle, and soaking up the wonderful sounds, sights and smells of Les Halles at dawn!
– Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!