Did you know that this imposing entertainment structure near Paris once housed a macabre show?

For several decades, a large number of municipal and private abattoirs have permanently closed their doors in cities like Toulouse, Nancy, and Privas, in the Ardèche. Administrative sanctions, impossible compliance with health standards, chronic deficits, and the construction of new-generation complexes on the outskirts have all led to the end of city abattoirs, leaving behind massive abandoned halls.

A real complex imagined to modernize Paris

An event that Paris experienced not so long ago. One may not realize it when passing by, but a significant remnant of an abattoir is still in Paris. This can be found in the north-east of the city in a green space that combines art, relaxation, and urban sports: the Parc de la Villette. The site was inaugurated in 1987 and covers the area of the Villette slaughterhouses, built in 1867 on the orders of Napoleon III and Prefect Haussmann and demolished in 1974.

A real spectacle in full swing before the first mishaps

The Villette complex was inaugurated on October 21, 1867, featuring three gigantic metal halls dedicated to cattle, sheep, and calves, as well as around thirty buildings housing the slaughterhouses. Upon its opening, the Villette complex covered no less than 39 hectares and inevitably became a focal point of the Parisian food culture, drawing crowds to explore the world of butchery up close.

The subjects of conservation techniques and animal welfare are fatal to the future of abattoirs

Another problem was the condition of the animals. Transported by train to the gates of Paris, the animals were victims of an archaic transport system, causing many of them to perish during the journey. Furthermore, the slaughter methods were shocking, and the operations were denounced in the media due to the condition of the installations, which flirt with insanitation.

The decline of abattoirs

In the early 1920s, the press denounced the dilapidated installations, leading to a shift in public perception. In the 1950s, the decision was made to rebuild the dilapidated and inadequate slaughterhouses to create a “national meat market of interest”. However, the technical difficulties and the financial cost of such a project continued to delay the construction. Eventually, the industrial abattoir closed in March 1974, and the site was redeveloped into a unique complex in 1979, the Parc de La Villette.

Final thoughts

The Great Hall of Villette and other buildings now host exhibitions, conventions, festivals, and other events. The remnants of the abattoir serve as historic monuments, giving little indication of the astonishing spectacles that they have hosted in the past.

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