Picture of Andrew Barnes

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Men bargain in a meat pavilion, one of the last still in use at Les Halles.

Les Halles

PARIS – For 800 years the central market of this city and much of France, Les Halles, will soon be no more. Vegetables, fruit, eggs, cheese and flowers are gone. Only meat remains, and it too will soon be moved. With them will go the streets jammed with trucks, the sidewalks and bars jammed with strong men. Left behind is 100 acres of the busiest center of Paris, and a fight over how to rebuild a city without destroying it in the process. At 6 a.m., up the Autoroute du Sud to Paris, all three lanes are dilapidated Citroens, shiny vans and three-wheeled scooters, crammed with Spanish oranges, Moroccan tomatoes and very fresh eggs for a city that likes to eat. Grocers, restaurant buyers and, increasingly, central provisioners have since February made their dawn drive to Rungis, next to Orly Airport, where they park in vast lots and walk into utilitarian-modern sheds to choose among the endless stacked crates of just-arrived vegetables, cheeses, eggs and fish. Bargaining done, supplies are quickly loaded at wide docks,

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