Thursday, 22 March 2012

Behold 'Les Nouvelles Halles'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ Behold 'Les Nouvelles Halles' ~

Untitled, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

BONUS: For Street Photography Fans!

Things just ain't been the same since they pulled down Les Halles, those magnificent cast iron pavillions, the subject of a hundred photographic essays not dissimilar to this one.

Not that I remember them of course - they were destroyed way back in the early seventies - I was under ten at the time - but luckily Robert Doisneau was there for me to record the event, including the enormous hole, not dissimilar to the one we can look down on and marvel over right here right now. History's repeating itself folks, as it always does.

So, just seen the Doisneau exhibition at l'Hôtel de Ville, where he documents the sad passing of this edifice out to remote Rungis, on the edge of the known world (Ile de France). A great exhibition from a promising young street photographer, and a sobering reminder of how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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The gent above is somewhat in the same tradition, but not exactly. He's one of the ubiquitous shady fruit vendors who set up stall on wobbly cardboard boxes and crates outside any given railway station until told to move on by the authorities.

You might have wondered where they procure their goods, and if they're any good, as it were. Their deals are normally good and the produce doesn't look too dodgy for an impulse purchase just a few steps from chez soi but where does it come from, this stuff? These guys don't generally look like they've just trundled in their bundles of bananas and betteraves from a cute little holistic farming practices family enterprise on the outskirts of town. You'd better have all your injections up to date, you'd be obliged to think, before buying goods from this dubious source. And yet...

And yet, the answer's blindingly obvious, in fact. There ain't 1,001 fresh fruit wholesellers in this town. They've got mates at Rungis. It's as simple as that. The underground economy ain't going nowhere, it's alive and thriving outside a hundred metro and RER stations near you. And last thing in the day, when you've forgotten to hit the supermarket or simply don't have the energy, it's often the obvious solution for not going home empty handed. Welcome to Les Nouvelles Halles.

And why not...
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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