Paris’ Les Halles Shopping Centre is an underrated experience, and yet it attracts 150,000 visitors each day and more than 39.2 million visitors each year. Discover why people flock here—not just for shopping, but also swimming, cinema, hip-hop, and a host of little perks.
Les Halles was originally Paris’ central fresh food market, before being demolished in 1971 and replaced with the modern shopping center you’ll find today. It boasts a brilliant program of entertainment as well as practical perks.
There’s not just one cinema but 27 screens showcasing everything from the latest blockbusters to little-known avant-garde films. It is open Monday to Sunday from 9:00 to 23:00. There’s also a 50-meter-length Olympic swimming pool, Piscine Suzanne Berlioux, whose eight swim lanes are open every day. But as well as swimming—flippers being an added extra on offer—you can try out aqua-cycling and aqua-gym. If that’s not enough, the médiatèque offers a space dedicated to hip-hop with an eclectic program of hands (and feet!) on workshops and events. A day at the shopping center has never sounded so fun.
In terms of fashion, cosmetics, and technology, the store is bursting with a wide choice of inspiration. You’ll find the familiar cluster of high-street favorites like Zara, H&M, Gap, New Look, and Mango nestled amongst cool sportswear brands like Nike, Superdry, and Lacoste, as well as high-end cosmetics like Yves Rocher, L’Occitane, The Body Shop, and Marionnaud, before finding a huge bookstore at Fnac and the latest technology at Darty. It’s a great place to head when you need to buy a present, but haven’t quite decided what to buy.
There is unlimited free wifi available right through the store, as well as a “relaxation space” open to everyone—electric sockets and USB ports to recharge your devices are among its best little perks. But you’ll also find everything from photo booths, pharmacies, shoe-wax points, and water-fountains, to emergency outlets catering for anything from a popped button or a stitch that’s come undone, to heating your food in the communal microwaves.
It is located right in the heart of the city, a stone’s throw away from a host of landmarks like Centre Georges Pompidou and Notre Dame. It is directly connected to the massive RER and métro transit hub of Châtelet-Les-Halles, making it easily accessible from wherever you’re traveling from. What’s more is that it is built largely underground, which is great for a rainy day, at which point everyone caught outside will suddenly flock for cover.
Make sure to drop by the reception area and pick up the shopping center loyalty card, even if you’re only shopping here once. It’ll give you great reductions, like 50% off Yves Rocher, as well as 10% off brands like Superdry and Mellow Yellow. The store is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 20:00 and Sunday from 11:00 to 19:00.