Champeaux: why this name?
Before it became the vibrant shopping and leisure area it is today, the Halles district was home to the great Paris market, which Zola called “the belly of Paris”. This market had migrated as Paris grew. First installed in the Ile de la Cité, it then occupied the Place de Grève, that is to say the site of the current Place de l’Hôtel de Ville. Always in search of more space, it moved further north: it was Louis VI the Fat who, at the very beginning of the 12th century, established it on the site of the Champeaux, a former swamp that had been drained and transformed into fields, hence the name.
Moreover, the name Champeaux was also that of a restaurant founded in 1800 by a certain Champeaux family and located on Place de la Bourse. This establishment, whose clientele was a mix of writers, journalists and, since the installation of the Bourse in 1826, financiers, had its hour of glory. First, because Emile Zola set the first scene of his novel L’Argent there. Then because it hosted, in 1903, the first meeting of the jury of the Goncourt Prize, before the latter moved to Drouant.
Menu of the restaurant, from 15th, December
Champeaux’s menu of December 15, 1900 (Alain Ducasse’s personal collection)