Attention: At this time the garden of Les Halles is undergoing a complete renovation that will transform the old park and reinvigorate the Quartier. The following historical information is still interesting and useful. We will update this page with new photos when the new garden is complete in 2013.
The Jardin Les Halles is built on the site of the old central market of Paris, memorialized in Emile Zola's novel, "Le Ventre de Paris" ("The Belly of Paris").
The site is now an expansive park complete with a large scale trellis, sculptures, fountains and walking paths designed by Louis Arretche and François-Xavier Lalanne.
Le Jardin des Halles, the Garden of Les Halles, is included in our Self-Guided Walking Tour, Palais Royal to Hotel de Ville.
The Garden of Les Halles is artistically divided into small sections, each with it's own ambiance and special features without losing the grand, overall perspective.
It all sits in front of the impressive church of St. Eustache.
Here, in front of St. Eustache in Place René Cassin, is sitting a giant, seventy ton sculpture of a head resting on a hand and made of sandstone. It is called, "Ecoute" ("Listen"), created by Henri de Miller and placed there in 1986.
With its location directly in front of the 13th century cathedral of St. Eustache, "Ecoute" presents a striking contrast between old and new, one of the defining characteristics of Paris.
Also in Place René Cassin, Henri de Miller built the "Cadran" ("Sundial"), realizing mathematician Dandrel's invention. Normally, sundials use the movement of a shadow to mark the time. This one uses the rays of sunlight that enter the sundial through slits about eight feet feet above ground. When the light hits a horizontal fiber optic inside the sculpture it is sent to a dial on a low wall where it marks the time.
On the opposite side of Place René Cassin from St. Eustache is a system of low waterfalls.
Near the round building of the Commercial Exchange (Bourse du Commerce) is a recessed tropical greenhouse, roofed with four glass pyramids.
It was built in 1988 and decorates one side of a 50 meter indoor swimming pool. The greenhouse is not open to visitors as it was designed to be admired from the outside. It has a surface area of 500 square meters and holds approximately 30 species of plants.
Included in the Garden of Les Halles is the Jardin des Enfants des Halles (the Children's Garden), located at 105 rue Rambeteau, just opposite one of the the Metro entrances to the Les Halles station and just east of St. Eustache.
The playground is divided into six "worlds". There is a tropical forest world with a monkey bridge and a tiger trap, a canyon, huts and a bamboo forest; an ancient world with mazes and columns; a world of geometry and sound; a soft world; a volcanic world and an island world.
A wide range of activities are provided including a climbing wall, lots of slides, a tunnel. a maze, as well the more standardized playground equipment.
The Jardin des Enfants is available for children ages 7-15. Sorry, adults are not allowed in the Garden, kids only. On the hour, children pay 40 centimes which allows them one hour of admission. Parents are told to come back later to retrieve them. However, there are observation decks so parents don't miss out on all the fun.
The Jardin des Enfants is open from 9 a.m.-noon and 2 p.m.-6 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday and from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday and public holidays. The Garden is closed on Monday and in the event of rain.
An exception to the "no adults" rule is on Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. when the playground is open to children of all ages and their parents.
There are many lawns in the Garden of Les Halles that can be used for picnics and for soaking up some sun.
The Garden of Les Halles is also a popular spot for playing pétanque, or boules, a game that combines bowling and shuffle-board, a national game of France.
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