Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-ParisNight

The view from the Théâtre de l"Odéon at dusk. Photo: Françoise Deberdt-Meunier

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Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Left Bank gallery crawl
> Open house at 50 galleries for Art Saint Germain des Prés. Various venues, Paris, May 18-June 3.

Gold in galleries

ParisUpdate-CarreRiveGauche-Passage AH 0

“Passage” ((2017), by Aude Herlédan. At 1831 Art Gallery during Carré Rive Gauche.

> The Carré Rive Gauche, an association of Left Bank galleries, celebrates its 40th anniversary with an event called ExtrORdinaire, featuring gold in works of art. Various venues, Paris, May 18-June 3.

Literary evening
> The Nuit de la Littérature in Belleville and Ménilmontant presents 20 foreign authors reading their work in French. Various venues, Paris, May 27.

 English-language theater festival
> Paris Fringe returns for its second year of English-language theater and comedy. Various venues, Paris, May 18-28.

Hollywood glam
> Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich and more in classic films from Hollywood's Golden Age for the Glamour cycle. Forum des Images, Paris, May 3-31.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Etienne Comar’s Django, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, May 26.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, through May 28.

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Hot Topics - Tales of la Ville

 

Les Halles

Out with the Old Halles,
In with Another New One

ParisUpdate-Les Halles-4.Bob Crimi

Work went on at Les Halles in 1971 even as its pavilions were being demolished. Photo © Bob Crimi.

In 1971, Bob Crimi, a young American painter who was living in Marseilles at the time, paid a couple of short visits to Paris, camera in hand. Two places in particular grabbed his attention: the Jeu de Paume, where France’s Impressionist and Postimpressionist collections were then housed, and Les Halles, where the food market’s elegant 19th-century pavilions, designed by Victor Baltard, were in the process of being torn down.

They were later replaced by the Forum des Halles, an underground shopping mall with a much-reviled aboveground structure that looked like mirrored umbrellas. That, in turn, was recently torn down and replaced by another much-reviled structure, the just-opened La Canopée, designed by Patrick

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The just-inaugurated Canopée. Photo: Franck Badaire

Berger and Jacques Anziutti.

Crimi captured these haunting black-and-white images of Baltard’s pavilions at a critical moment. Here’s how he remembers it: “I fell upon Les Halles while the market was in transition. Fishmongers, butchers, and farmers

ParisUpdate-Les Halles-2.Bob Crimi

Photo © Bob Crimi

were still going about their day’s work as walls and roofs were being torn down around them. The raw filigreed beauty of the steel and glass of Les Halles attracted me, as well as the poignancy of its destruction. I was appalled and saddened that it was being discarded.”

In his novel Le Ventre de Paris (The Belly of Paris), Émile Zola describes Baltard’s pavilions through the eyes of the character Florent as “a series of enormous, symmetrically built palaces, light and airy as crystal, and catching on their facades, as though filtered through their endless shutters, a thousand rays of light. These narrow golden bars, gleaming between

ParisUpdate-Les Halles-1.Bob Crimi

Photo © Bob Crimi

slender pillars, seemed like ladders of light ascending to the dark line of the lower roofs, then soaring upwards to the higher ones, thus

ParisUpdate-Les Halles-3.Bob Crimi

Photo © Bob Crimi

forming an open structure of immense square halls.” (Translated by Brian Nelson: The Belly of Paris, Oxford World’s Classics, 2007.)

Opposition to the destruction of Baltard’s pavilions was fierce. Petitions were signed. In Paris, protesters chained themselves to the fences around the pavilions, and a preservationist set off a bomb in Père Lachaise Cemetery. Demonstrations were even held in front of the French consulate in New York. The architect Mies Van de Rohe and the artist

ParisUpdate-Les Halles-5.Bob Crimi

Photo © Bob Crimi

Max Ernst were among the prominent advocates of the preservation movement, and an American businessman offered to buy the pavilions for 30 million francs and rebuild them elsewhere. All to no avail. Only one pavilion, number eight, was saved and rebuilt in Nogent-sur-Marne,where it still stands today and is rented out for events.

Heidi Ellison

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