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Stunning Historical Photos of Les Halles from the Early 20th Century, The Lost Marketplace of Paris Known as 'The Belly of Paris'

These fascinating historical pictures show Les Halles, Paris’ former fresh food market, which sprawled haphazardly over the city’s center and was known as “the Belly of Paris.” The 900-year-old marketplace that used to stand at Les Halles in the heart of Paris used to be alive with the cries of fruit sellers, fish vendors, butchers, and florists, the scent of vibrant flower bouquets intermingling with the smell of freshly baked bread, and heaving with swarms of market-goers. A Royal Decree established the capital’s great market in the twelfth century. Despite the city’s rapid growth, the area was unsuitable for a market. Les Halles was officially born during the nineteenth century. Designed in an avant-garde style with cast iron and glass, Les Halles de Baltard consisted of twelve pavilions. Victor Baltard, a renowned architect, designed the buildings. One hundred years have passed since these pavilions were built. Many market stalls were overflying the streets, offering a specialty, such as fish, vegetables, or meat. Its high beams, paint-encrusted rivets, and glass awnings symbolize the fading beauty of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The markets were most interesting at night when the meat and fish markets were in full swing. At night, thousands of tons of meat and fish were bought, butchered, traded, and sold. Unfortunately, the market’s success led to its demise. In the 1960s, traffic congestion at and around the market caused severe bottlenecks in the city center and was slated for demolition. Due to the new market economy and the need for massive repairs, Les Halles was dismantled in 1971; the wholesale market was moved to Rungis, resulting in the colorful ambiance once associated with the bustling area. Two glass and cast iron pavilions were dismantled and reconstructed in Yokohama, Japan, and Nogent-sur-Marne, a suburb of Paris. In the 1960s, the site became the point of convergence of the RER, a network of new express underground lines. A new underground station was planned to connect three lines from the city to the south, east, and west.

Some stunning historical photos show Les Halles from the 1900s to the 1940s.

#1 Les Halles, 1932

Les Halles, 1932

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#2 Butcher pushing a cart, Les Halles, Paris, 1900

Butcher pushing a cart, Les Halles, Paris, 1900

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#3 Fruit and vegetable market, Les Halles, Paris, 1900

Fruit and vegetable market, Les Halles, Paris, 1900

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#4 Beaubourg, space where fallow has implemented the Centre Georges Pompidou, Les Halles, Paris, 1900

Beaubourg, space where fallow has implemented the Centre Georges Pompidou, Les Halles, Paris, 1900

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#5 Halls Under Construction, Les Halles, Paris, 1900

Halls Under Construction, Les Halles, Paris, 1900

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#6 sculpture by Henri de Miller Paris, 1900

sculpture by Henri de Miller Paris, 1900

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#7 Les Halles in the morning, 1900

Les Halles in the morning, 1900

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#8 The central halls of Rouen, in Seine-Maritime, 1900

The central halls of Rouen, in Seine-Maritime, 1900

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#9 Seafood stalls in Les Halles, 1900

Seafood stalls in Les Halles, 1900

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#10 Parisians collect cherries fallen from a truck on a boulevard near Les Halles district, in June 1946 in Paris.

Parisians collect cherries fallen from a truck on a boulevard near Les Halles district, in June 1946 in Paris.

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#11 Poor people search a garbage can in March 1945, in the district of Les Halles in Paris, 1940s

Poor people search a garbage can in March 1945, in the district of Les Halles in Paris, 1940s

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#12 Les Halles under the rain, which was historically the traditional central market of Paris during 1945 in Paris, France.

Les Halles under the rain, which was historically the traditional central market of Paris during 1945 in Paris, France.

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#13 Paris in Occupied France, Les Halles, 1945

Paris in Occupied France, Les Halles, 1945

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#14 Les Halles, Paris, 1945

Les Halles, Paris, 1945

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#15 On the market at les Halles of Paris, 1943

On the market at les Halles of Paris, 1943

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#16 Soup kitchen for the needy, Les Halles, 1941

Soup kitchen for the needy, Les Halles, 1941

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#17 Soup kitchen for the needy, les Halles, 1941

Soup kitchen for the needy, les Halles, 1941

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#18 Les Halles under German occupation, 1940

Les Halles under German occupation, 1940

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#19 A butcher sells his poultries at Les Halles district (central food market) in Paris on December 1938.

A butcher sells his poultries at Les Halles district (central food market) in Paris on December 1938.

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#20 A butcher sets up his poultries at Les Halles district (central food market) in Paris on December 1938.

A butcher sets up his poultries at Les Halles district (central food market) in Paris on December 1938.

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#21 Poultry Array For Christmas Near Les Halles in Paris, 1937.

Poultry Array For Christmas Near Les Halles in Paris, 1937.

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#22 Arrival of oysters at the Les Halles market for the end of year celebrations, December 23, 1936

Arrival of oysters at the Les Halles market for the end of year celebrations, December 23, 1936

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#23 Arrival of oysters at the Les Halles market for the end of year celebrations, December 23, 1936

Arrival of oysters at the Les Halles market for the end of year celebrations, December 23, 1936

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#24 Arrival of oysters at the Les Halles market for the end of year celebrations, December 23, 1936

Arrival of oysters at the Les Halles market for the end of year celebrations, December 23, 1936

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#25 Arrival of oysters at the Les Halles market for the end of year celebrations, December 23, 1936

Arrival of oysters at the Les Halles market for the end of year celebrations, December 23, 1936

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#26 The day after the opening of hunting : abundant game on the shops’ displays at les Halles, 1940s

The day after the opening of hunting : abundant game on the shops' displays at les Halles, 1940s

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#27 Customers buying game in a store in Les Halles, Paris, 1936

Customers buying game in a store in Les Halles, Paris, 1936

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#28 Fish market at Les Halles de Paris in 1936

Fish market at Les Halles de Paris in 1936

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#29 Fish market at the Halles de Paris in 1936

Fish market at the Halles de Paris in 1936

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#30 Butcher on the Halles market in Paris, 1936

Butcher on the Halles market in Paris, 1936

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#31 Employee setting up a large shipment of oyster baskets at Les Halles in Paris, France, on December 22, 1934.

Employee setting up a large shipment of oyster baskets at Les Halles in Paris, France, on December 22, 1934.

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#32 Les Forts des Halles carrying in their arms the ‘Queens of France’ during the celebration of the goatherd bean, 1934

Les Forts des Halles carrying in their arms the 'Queens of France' during the celebration of the goatherd bean, 1934

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#33 Women carried on a trolley Les Halles, 1934

Women carried on a trolley Les Halles, 1934

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#34 Stall of hares at Les Halles, in Paris, 1933

Stall of hares at Les Halles, in Paris, 1933

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#35 Crates and baskets at Les Halles market in Paris, 1933

Crates and baskets at Les Halles market in Paris, 1933

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#36 Oyster vendors at the Halles de Paris, 1932

Oyster vendors at the Halles de Paris, 1932

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#37 Les Halles, 1932

Les Halles, 1932

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#38 Les Halles, 1932

Les Halles, 1932

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#39 Les Halles, 1932

Les Halles, 1932

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#40 Les Halles, 1932

Les Halles, 1932

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#41 Les Halles, 1932

Les Halles, 1932

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#42 Les Halles, 1932

Les Halles, 1932

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#43 The crowd in front of the Les Halles butcher’s shop which distributes food to the unemployed in the neighborhood, in Paris, 1931

The crowd in front of the Les Halles butcher's shop which distributes food to the unemployed in the neighborhood, in Paris, 1931

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#44 Workers filling barrels with wine, on the quay, near Les Halles au vin, in Paris, France on November 6, 1931.

Workers filling barrels with wine, on the quay, near Les Halles au vin, in Paris, France on November 6, 1931.

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#45 Seller in les Halles market washing her bags in the gross which would be filled up with some other fruits and vegetables on the following day, 1931

Seller in les Halles market washing her bags in the gross which would be filled up with some other fruits and vegetables on the following day, 1931

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#46 Dance in the halls of the central market Les Halles on the occasion of the annual festival Lily of the Valley, 1931

Dance in the halls of the central market Les Halles on the occasion of the annual festival Lily of the Valley, 1931

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#47 Policemen patrolling Les Halles district ( central food market) at Paris among the workers of the trade, 1931

Policemen patrolling Les Halles district ( central food market) at Paris among the workers of the trade, 1931

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#48 Parisian family in the Les Halles district of Paris, France, 1930.

Parisian family in the Les Halles district of Paris, France, 1930.

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#49 Children in disguise at the Lily of the Valley festival organized by the ‘Forts des halles’ in the halls of Paris, 1930.

Children in disguise at the Lily of the Valley festival organized by the 'Forts des halles' in the halls of Paris, 1930.

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#50 Interior view of the Halles Centrales de Reims, 1930

Interior view of the Halles Centrales de Reims, 1930

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#51 Inauguration of a room in the cellars of Les Halles for the conservation of cheeses, in Paris, 1930

Inauguration of a room in the cellars of Les Halles for the conservation of cheeses, in Paris, 1930

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#52 Inauguration of a room in the cellars of Les Halles for the conservation of cheeses, in Paris, 1930

Inauguration of a room in the cellars of Les Halles for the conservation of cheeses, in Paris, 1930

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#53 Inauguration of a room in the cellars of Les Halles for the conservation of cheeses, in Paris, 1930

Inauguration of a room in the cellars of Les Halles for the conservation of cheeses, in Paris, 1930

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#54 Inauguration of a room in the cellars of Les Halles for the conservation of cheeses, in Paris, 1930

Inauguration of a room in the cellars of Les Halles for the conservation of cheeses, in Paris, 1930

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#55 Les Halles, 1930

Les Halles, 1930

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#56 Transport of goods through the narrow streets to Les Halles – the ‘Belly of Paris’, 1930

Transport of goods through the narrow streets to Les Halles - the 'Belly of Paris', 1930

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#57 Women freezing during the season of winter, in the street of the Les Halles district, 1930s

Women freezing during the season of winter, in the street of the Les Halles district, 1930s

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#58 Men warming up around a brazier, during the season of winter, in the street of the Les Halles district, 1930s

Men warming up around a brazier, during the season of winter, in the street of the Les Halles district, 1930s

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#59 Women freezing during the season of winter, in the street of the Les Halles district, 1930s

Women freezing during the season of winter, in the street of the Les Halles district, 1930s

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#60 Eugene Stueber works on the market in Les Halles, Paris, 1930

Eugene Stueber works on the market in Les Halles, Paris, 1930

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#61 Violent fire at Les Halles central wholsale marketplace in August 1929 in Paris.

Violent fire at Les Halles central wholsale marketplace in August 1929 in Paris.

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#62 Violent Fire at Les Halles Wholesale Marketplace, 1929

Violent Fire at Les Halles Wholesale Marketplace, 1929

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#63 A Movie Theater near Les Halles in August 1929.

A Movie Theater near Les Halles in August 1929.

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#64 Les Halles, Paris central market, in 1929 in Paris.

Les Halles, Paris central market, in 1929 in Paris.

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#65 Shopping at les Halles, the central market in 1929 in Paris.

Shopping at les Halles, the central market in 1929 in Paris.

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#66 Les Halles, traditional food market in the centre of Paris, in December 1928 in Paris,

Les Halles, traditional food market in the centre of Paris, in December 1928 in Paris,

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#67 Street hawkers in the Halles market area in 1928 in Paris, France.

Street hawkers in the Halles market area in 1928 in Paris, France.

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#68 Les Halles, 1925

Les Halles, 1925

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#69 A worker standing with barrels and baskets outside the entrance to Octave Maury at the wine sellers storehouse in Les Halles, 1920s

A worker standing with barrels and baskets outside the entrance to Octave Maury at the wine sellers storehouse in Les Halles, 1920s

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#70 Les Halles after bombardment, 1920

Les Halles after bombardment, 1920

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#71 Employees and customers of the Fish Market at Les Halles in Paris, 1910.

Employees and customers of the Fish Market at Les Halles in Paris, 1910.

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#72 A flower stall and street scene outside Les Halles in Paris, 1908.

A flower stall and street scene outside Les Halles in Paris, 1908.

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#73 A wholesale meat market at Les Halles in Paris, 1908.

A wholesale meat market at Les Halles in Paris, 1908.

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#74 Customers and employees of a market stall selling flowers at Les Halles in Paris, 1908

Customers and employees of a market stall selling flowers at Les Halles in Paris, 1908

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#75 Employess and costumers of a seafood stall in Les Halles in Paris, 1908.

Employess and costumers of a seafood stall in Les Halles in Paris, 1908.

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#76 Ladies selling seafood in Les Halles in Paris, 1908.

Ladies selling seafood in Les Halles in Paris, 1908.

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#77 A cheese stall in Les Halles in Paris, 1908.

A cheese stall in Les Halles in Paris, 1908.

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#78 Rubbish collectors in Les Halles, Paris, 1908.

Rubbish collectors in Les Halles, Paris, 1908.

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#79 Employees and customers of Les Halles market stalls in Paris, 1906.

Employees and customers of Les Halles market stalls in Paris, 1906.

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#80 Loading of refuses in the district of the “Halles”, the central market of Paris, 1910.

Loading of refuses in the district of the "Halles", the central market of Paris, 1910.

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#81 Oyster Sellers in Les Halles, 1900s

Oyster Sellers in Les Halles, 1900s

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#82 Vegetable-seller at the “Halles” of Paris, 1900.

Vegetable-seller at the "Halles" of Paris, 1900.

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#83 Les Halles, 1900

Les Halles, 1900

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#84 Les Halles, 1900s

Les Halles, 1900s

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#85 The Halles, Paris, 1900

The Halles, Paris, 1900

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#86 The Halles, Pairs, 1900

The Halles, Pairs, 1900

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#87 The Dawn Of Wholesalers, Les Halles, Paris, 1900

The Dawn Of Wholesalers, Les Halles, Paris, 1900

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#88 Butcher at The Halles, Paris, 1900

Butcher at The Halles, Paris, 1900

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#89 Renovation of the Halles, 1900

Renovation of the Halles, 1900

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#90 Jumping over the Gutter, The Halles of Paris, 1900

Jumping over the Gutter, The Halles of Paris, 1900

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#91 Les Halles, One Morning at a Fishes Stall, Les Halles, 1900

Les Halles, One Morning at a Fishes Stall, Les Halles, 1900

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#92 Vegetables Market in Les Halles, 1900

Vegetables Market in Les Halles, 1900

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#93 The Halles of Paris, Saint-Eustache Church, 1900

The Halles of Paris, Saint-Eustache Church, 1900

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#94 The Halles of Paris, Demolition of Pavillons Baltard, 1900

The Halles of Paris, Demolition of Pavillons Baltard, 1900

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#95 Beaubourg District, The Hole Of The Halles, 1900

Beaubourg District, The Hole Of The Halles, 1900

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#96 Demolition of The Halles De Baltard, 1900

Demolition of The Halles De Baltard, 1900

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#97 Building of the Forum Des Halles, 1900

Building of the Forum Des Halles, 1900

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#98 The Halles of Paris, 1900

The Halles of Paris, 1900

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#99 Les Halles, 1900

Les Halles, 1900

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#100 Vendor Les Halles Paris, 1949

Vendor Les Halles Paris, 1949

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#101 The Halles’S Construction Project, 1948

The Halles'S Construction Project, 1948

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#102 The Halles Building Site, 1948.

The Halles Building Site, 1948.

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#103 People search for food in the garbage after closing time of the market of Paris Les Halles district on December 28, 1947.

People search for food in the garbage after closing time of the market of Paris Les Halles district on December 28, 1947.

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#104 People line up in front of a fish shop in Les Halles district in Paris on November 12, 1947 during the fishmongers’ strike.

People line up in front of a fish shop in Les Halles district in Paris on November 12, 1947 during the fishmongers' strike.

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#105 A street of the Les Halles district littered with garbage during the Paris binmen’s strike, 1947

A street of the Les Halles district littered with garbage during the Paris binmen's strike, 1947

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#106 A street of the Les Halles district in Paris littered with garbage during the city binmen’s strike, 1947

A street of the Les Halles district in Paris littered with garbage during the city binmen's strike, 1947

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#107 Fish stall during a wholesale fishmongers’ strike at Les Halles market in November 1947

Fish stall during a wholesale fishmongers' strike at Les Halles market in November 1947

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#108 Carcasses of animals hanging up in a meat market at Les Halles, Paris, 1947

Carcasses of animals hanging up in a meat market at Les Halles, Paris, 1947

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#109 Game stand at the Halles market in Paris in September 1947

Game stand at the Halles market in Paris in September 1947

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#110 Parisians demonstrate on December 12, 1947 near Les Halles in Paris to protest against the expensive life and supply difficulties.

Parisians demonstrate on December 12, 1947 near Les Halles in Paris to protest against the expensive life and supply difficulties.

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#111 Pavillon des Halles de Paris, 1946

Pavillon des Halles de Paris, 1946

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#112 Pavillon des Halles de Paris, 1946

Pavillon des Halles de Paris, 1946

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#113 Pavillon des Halles de Paris, 1946

Pavillon des Halles de Paris, 1946

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#114 Pavillon des Halles de Paris, 1946

Pavillon des Halles de Paris, 1946

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#115 American singers, the ‘Peters Sister’s’, visited the meat pavilion at Les Halles de Paris in 1947

American singers, the 'Peters Sister's', visited the meat pavilion at Les Halles de Paris in 1947

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#116 American singers, the ‘Peters Sister’s’, visited the meat pavilion at Les Halles de Paris in 1947

American singers, the 'Peters Sister's', visited the meat pavilion at Les Halles de Paris in 1947

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#117 American singers, the ‘Peters Sister’s’, visited the meat pavilion at Les Halles de Paris in 1947

American singers, the 'Peters Sister's', visited the meat pavilion at Les Halles de Paris in 1947

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#118 Les ‘Peters Sister’s’ visitent les Halles de Paris, 1947

Les 'Peters Sister's' visitent les Halles de Paris, 1947

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#119 Knacker in The Halles District, 1947.

Knacker in The Halles District, 1947.

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#120 Les Halles, 1947.

Les Halles, 1947.

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#121 Knacker in the Halles District, 1947.

Knacker in the Halles District, 1947.

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#122 The Halles, 1947

The Halles, 1947

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#123 Les Halles, 1947

Les Halles, 1947

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#124 A woman sells her radish production, in August 1946 in the district of Les Halles in Paris, at the resumption of the activity in the Halles quarter

A woman sells her radish production, in August 1946 in the district of Les Halles in Paris, at the resumption of the activity in the Halles quarter

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#125 A man carries bags of potatoes in August 1946 in a busy street of Les Halles district in Paris at the resumption of the activity in the Halles

A man carries bags of potatoes in August 1946 in a busy street of Les Halles district in Paris at the resumption of the activity in the Halles

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#126 People search a garbage can in August 1946, in the district of Les Halles in Paris, at the resumption of the activity in the Halles quarter

People search a garbage can in August 1946, in the district of Les Halles in Paris, at the resumption of the activity in the Halles quarter

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#127 Butchers work at les Halles district in January 1946 in Paris, while rationing measures are still in force in France.

Butchers work at les Halles district in January 1946 in Paris, while rationing measures are still in force in France.

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#128 Butchers work at les Halles district in January 1946 in Paris, while rationing measures are still in force in France.

Butchers work at les Halles district in January 1946 in Paris, while rationing measures are still in force in France.

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#129 Workers of a butcher’s shop carry meat in Les Halles district (central food market) in January 1946 in Paris during the meat strike.

Workers of a butcher's shop carry meat in Les Halles district (central food market) in January 1946 in Paris during the meat strike.

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#130 Poor children pick cherries in a street of Les Halles district in August 1945 in Paris

Poor children pick cherries in a street of Les Halles district in August 1945 in Paris

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#131 Paris: The Halles, Paris, 1900

Paris: The Halles, Paris, 1900

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.