Les Halles in Paris looks finally to be joining other relics from France’s past – such as the Renault 9, F R David and hole-in-the-ground toilets – in the dustbin of history.
The shopping centre-cum-railway hub is finally getting the overhaul it needs. I was glad to see great progress being made on my recent trip to Paris.
Each day 300,000 people use the pedestrian precinct, 150,000 visit the shopping centre and 750,000 people pass through the Châtelet-Les-Halles railway station beneath the complex.
It had been clear for some time that Les Halles wasn’t coping well with the demands made of it.
The first market was built on the site in 1183. Numerous additions and replacements were made over the years until the 1960s, when the government opted to relocate the market altogether.
The vacant space in the centre of the city was transformed into a railway hub and indoor shopping centre in the late 1970s. Gardens and sports facilities were added in the mid-1980s.
Now, work is underway to improve the light into the shopping centre, make the station bigger and brighter, renovate the gardens and build a stunning canopy above the central complex.
The work is due to last into 2016 but by the end of it, Les Halles should be a first-rate destination in a world-class city.
And all without a hole-in-the-ground toilet in sight.