Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Forum des Halles

There are lots of possibilities for shopping in Paris, and for any taste and wallet. A good place to start is the Forum des Halles. It is a large shopping centre where the main part is located under ground level. The centre is placed on top of Europe's largest underground station, Châtelet-Les Halles, which is a major hub. There are five levels with shops, restaurants, bars, a cinema, pool and fitness centre.

With over 180 shops and restaurants there's certainly something for you there, and it's easy to spend hours wandering around in the large complex. You'll find both H&M, Fnac (music, books, electronics), Starbucks, clothes shops, home decoration, sports, shoes, perfumes, a pharmacy, Bodum and anything you can imagine. The only thing lacking is a hardware merchant, which is typical for France. You don't often find shops dedicated solely to kitchen equipment, electronics, cutlery, glasses and so on. In the middle of the centre is an open square. A small oasis of sunshine when you need a break from the shopping.

The cinema is large and they often show VO (version originale) films, so it's possible to see the latest blockbusters with original sound and French subtitles. The theatre is open all day and there is no seat reservation unlike many Danish cinemas. You buy the ticket in the machine outside and walk in where the ticket is checked. Then you'll find your screen, walk in and settle on the best seat you can find. With the popular films it's worth it to come early to be sure you get a good seat.

If you get tired of all the shops and need to sit on a bar and relax, then take one of the many exits and find a café. The area around Forum des Halles is full of restaurants and cafés, and of course shops. It's where you can spend a full day shopping. Should you need a bit of fresh air and green for the eyes, then head to the top of the centre. A beautiful large park with trees and grass is located here.

Practical information:

Opening times 10 am to 8 pm every day except Sundays. Bars and restaurants are open until 10 pm.
Website: http://en.forumdeshalles.com/
Access: RER A, B and D, as well as metro 1, 4, 7, 11, 14, bus lines 21, 29, 38, 47, 58, 67, 69, 70, 72, 74, 75, 76, 81, 85 and 96.
Photo: Nelson Minar, Flickr

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