One thing that I appreciate about Paris is the many photo and art exhibitions that take place in the city. Some of these – in particular, those on show at the Hôtel de Ville – are free. You just have to be prepared to queue.

Last Friday, AB and I joined the queue at Hôtel de Ville to see 200 photos taken by Robert Doisneau, documenting Paris’ former market “Les Halles” over a period of 40 years.

One of Doisneau’s most renowned work is that of a man passionately kissing a woman in his embrace, titled “Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville” (Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville). While this is a posed image, most of the photos in the “Doisneau / Paris / Les Halles” exhibition were candid and captured the vibrant scenes that took place in Paris’ former central market.

~ a butcher with the head of a slaughtered animal that looked like it was licking his hand in its last attempt to be spared its life ~ vendors keeping warm in the night next to burning trash ~ shadows cast on the street on a sunny day as shoppers walked around ~ old ladies scavenging amongst piles of abandoned produce ~ butchers in their blood-splattered aprons enjoying a break in a cantine ~ stuffed rats lined up in traps at a stall ~ flower sellers sweetly smiling for the camera ~ passers-by sauntering over garbage in a puddle of water ~ silhouette of the immense steel and glass pavilions ~ the gigantic hole at the construction site for the “Forum des Halles” that attracted gaping Parisiens ~

I found this series of images fascinating as they documented a time past and the lives of the people who were part of “le vente de Paris” (the stomach of Paris).

Don’t miss it if you’re in Paris!

Doisneau / Paris / Les Halles: 1000-1900, Monday – Saturday, until 28 April 2012.

Doisneau à l'hotel de ville P160NC

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