Les Halles: user activity


Picture Source: Evous


Our group focused on user activity, where we identified the type of people at the mall and how they spent their time there.

From our interviews and research, we discovered that pre-renovation, Les Halles was relatively unsafe [A View of Cities]. The purpose of the area had been to monetize and enliven the heart of Paris; however, the area slowly declined as restaurants and upmarket shops quickly went out of business and the park area became a center for drug dealing and prostitution [Kasten]. The new renovation, which included several modifications and a center structural canopy to improve lighting, was meant to bring back life and activities to Les Halles and make the place friendly again.

Wandering in the mall and observing its users, we noticed that there were several cultural facilities, typically not in shopping centers, such as a swimming pool and library. We decided to explore how the users interact with these recreational structures to determine Les Halles’ nature: shopping and/or recreation ?


Our group decided to focus on one variable of user activity – location – by counting and identifying the types of people at various centers in the mall. Chosen for their uniqueness, these locations were the gymnasium, cinema library, La Place (which contains a hip hop centre, library, kiosque jeunes and Maison des Pratiques Artistiques Amateurs) , and Centre d’Animation (a hub for all ages to find art, music theater, and also career services for young adults to receive help with cover letters, resumes, and interviews).

Each group member was stationed at a location entrance and recorded the total number of entering users for 1.5 hours. We also recorded the gender, age group, whether they had shopping bags, and if they came individually or as part of a group.

This observation took place on Wednesday afternoon.  Since most children do not have school on Wednesdays, we expected a higher children demographic than usual.

Below are outlines of the locations and the amount of people who entered during the 1.5 hours. Take note that La Place has three floors, Centre d’Animation has two floors, and the rest have only a ground floor.


(See photo of grid at the bottom)


Users of the recreational activities come mainly in families (41% of total users) or groups (37%). However, there is a striking difference depending on locations: the gym and the animation center are mainly frequented by families (more than 50%) while the cinema library attracts individuals (99%). The first feature is probably due to the fact that it was a Wednesday afternoon when kids have their activities and parents bring them. Regarding the cinema library, users are mainly film enthusiasts or students who come to work which explains why they come alone.


Overall, there is an equal age representation of users (except only 8% of elderly) but it differs when looking at the different locations. For the same reasons as above, the gym and the animation center are mostly frequented by kids (45%) and adults (45%) (kids with their parents), while the cinema library mostly welcomes young adults (40%) and adults (40%), but no kids at all.


A striking feature of our observation is that the users are mostly women, especially for the gym and center (80%) that are the kids’ Wednesday afternoon activities. This underlines a traditional role of women who are the ones bringing kids to their activities, while the fathers are working.


Finally, 633 people entered into the four locations during the 1.5 hours, with 45% coming to La Place. This could be attributed to La Place offering four different activities which attract different audiences, while the other locations are focused on one type of activity.

Only 33 users had shopping bags, about five percent of all users.  This small fraction is surprising in particular at the library, which was located in the middle of the shopping area. Even though the library is quiet and full of seating, few shoppers ventured inside.  This lack of use of the library by shoppers is consistent with the other locations – most people at Les Halles are there for the shopping or for the facilities, but not both. There is little crossover.


Proposed Improvements

1 – To increase consumption and improve user experience, the mall could encourage everyday shoppers to enter the library and other locations. Stores could offer discounts for people using the gym, pool, and other facilities, and the libraries could have better signage to encourage shoppers to enter. One way we can propose to increase the number of shoppers frequenting the facilities is to allow people to store their bags in lockers near the cultural facilities.

2 – As we saw, mostly women entered the Gym and the Center for their children’s activities.  We can try to provide men’s activities or a working room near the facility. This will allow fathers to bring their kids more often if they know that they can do something in the area.

3 – To tackle under-representation of the elderly in these facilities, we could introduce combined activities with children, such as an inter-generational exchange.

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Works Cited

“Access Forum Des Halles.” Welcome Forum Des Halles. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2016.

“Forum Des Halles, Paris.” A View On Cities. A View On Cities, n.d. Web. 22 June 2016.

Kasten, Scott A. “Destroying the Mystique of Paris: How the Destruction of Les Halles Served as a Symbol for Gaullist Power and Modernization in 1960s and 1970s Paris.” Georgia State University ScholarWorks. Georgia State University, n.d. Web. 22 June 2016.

“Les Halles Redevelopment Project.” Parisleshalles.fr. Le Halles Metrople, n.d. Web. 22 June 2016.

Posted by Group 9 :  Theo Mendez | Monet Lee | Helene Tholoniat | Nikola Zarevski

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