The guts of Paris

Les Halles as a hole in 1974. From Ferreri's movie

In Marco Ferreri’s movie Touché pas à la femme blanche (1974) the indians are the former residents evicted from the center of Paris, and the cowboys are gunmen of the real estate speculators who try to exterminate them. The canyon is the enormous hole left after the demolition of the Baltard padillions, on september 6th, 1971. Just as the boulevards opened by Haussman in the end of the XIX century was an urbanistic response to the Paris 1870 Commune, the demolitions of the “ventre de Paris” and its transformation into a business and cultural center, in some way is a response to the need of punishing the city after may of 1968. The empty space of Chatelet-Les Halles today highlightens the persistence of the exclusion of young people coming in from the banlieues with the RER train (as in the movie La Haine by M.Kassovitz [1][2]). This had been already written by those who criticized the demolitions in the seventies. The most important of them is the journalist André Fermigier, whose articles are published in La bataille de Paris. De Les Halles à la Pyramide, chroniques d’urbanisme: “Do you want Paris in the year 2000 to become a city in which the young people will have no means to live?” (1971). Or Michel Ragon in Les erreurs monumentales: “Will Paris in the future be a ring of satellite cities around a dead center, converted into an open-air museum, like in Venice?”. Paris City Council is planning a new, enormous, project for the renewal of that part of the center.

  • Katherin KNORR (1998) “The Destruction of Paris” in The New Criterion, vol.16, january 1998, p.16 [PDF][LINK]
  • Manuel CASTELLS (1974) “Urban Renewal and Social Conflict in Paris” in Social Science Information 1972:11, 93 [PDF]
  • Chatelet-Les Halles: la bataille du centre de Paris [VIDEO]
  • François Fromonot (2005) La campagne des Halles: les nouveaux malheurs de Paris [LINK]
  • Meanwhile, the City Council goes on “cleaning” the extreme peripheries: eviction of july 2010 in the 4000 (La Corneuve), in the Droit au Logement webpage [VIDEO].