Mystery Location #6: Where's Karl?
Answer: just outside the greenhouses at the Forum des Halles
Winner: Anne! With her two correct answers, Anne wins the prize! Hopefully, it won't melt on its way from Texas.
If you spend time in Paris, at some point, you're likely to pass through the Forum des Halles. Or Les Halles métro stop. Or Châtelet-Les Halles RER stop. Or Châtelet métro stop. Or all four of these destinations. Who knows? Unless you are a transit enthusiast,you probably will not be able to tell the difference between any of these destinations, because they form a gigantic underground network-mall without any clear demarcations from one point to the next. Châtelet-Les Halles, taken as a whole, was once, and may still be (my quick search doesn't yield a definitive answer) the largest subway station in the world.
|Ha! Don't let the simple graphic fool you.|
Châtelet-Les Halles is as remarkable for its banality as for its inscrutability and complexity. As is the Forum des Halles, the bleak, piss-smelling mall popular among kids from the banlieues. The mall is like other malls, except it contains a vinyl library, a swimming pool, and the greenhouse, which is nice in and of itself but contextually bizarre: it's really cool-looking, and has nothing to do with the rest of the mall, and, most significantly, you can't get in. Before it was a labyrinth, Châtelet was a morgue. And a prison. And a fortress. And before the Forum des Halles was a reviled architectural abomination of a mall, it was a reviled construction site and hole in the ground (le Trou des Halles), and before that, the central Halles, the gut/belly/stomach of Paris (Zola), the glass-covered wholesale food market whose last days were captured by Robert Doisneau in a series of glorious, heart-rending photographs we saw at Hôtel de Ville. That expo was, for better or for worse, mounted in conversation with the current construction project at Les Halles, which, by 2016, is intended to transform the bleak, piss-smelling mall popular with kids from the banlieues into an airy, light-filled ritzy mall topped with a leafy park, with yoga studios and recording studios and high-end boutiques.
And so, we leave Paris, and our Paris blog, with lots of unresolved questions, and an impending feeling of doom, and return to the U.S., where, in our wanderings through three time zones, we've been experiencing all kinds of different culture shocks (including the Glenn Beck books in the checkout line at the supermarket in San Antonio) (also, the supermarket itself). (Which is, of course, not to say that right-wing bullshit doesn't happen in Paris. But this is our right-wing bullshit.) But to round things out with a kind of narrative closure, which is what passes for optimism around here, we will eventually return to Paris to report on the ongoing progress of the Les Halles project. And to get lost in Châtelet. And to broaden our experience with French indoor gardening techniques. And, maybe, to actually learn some French. We'll be going back to Paris, OH HELLS YES. But in the meantime, we've got more of Seattle to see, and Portland, and then home.
How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm
After they've seen Paris?
There's an answer to that, right there in the song. You can't keep them down on the farm, oh no, oh no. But,
How ya gonna keep 'em away from Broadway?
And painting the town?
Essays on previous contests:
Contest #1: Winner: Anne: Le Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Contest #2: We are the winners, because we got to walk along it all the time: La Promenade Plantée
Contest #3: Winners: Libya and Bridget: le Musée des Arts et Métiers
Contest #4: Winners: Daniel and Stephanie: Opéra Bastille
Contest #5: Winner: Bobinou69: Napoleon III appartements, Louvre