The Carreau du Temple gets its name from the nearby location of the medieval Knights Templar enclosure (which also functioned as a holding pen for Marie Antoinette et al during the French Revolution). In the 1950s, the building's covered arcades were the site of a thriving second-hand clothes market – but time and supermarkets had their way, and the venue fell into disuse before being earmarked for restoration by the council in 2001. Four hundred locals were involved in the project – after all, as then-Mayor Bertrand Delanoë put it, ‘The site belongs to them.’ After much brainstorming and bureaucratic faffing about, the arcades have reopened as a multi-purpose centre for sport, culture and food.
The sparkling new, golden-brown, 6,500 metre square venue now boasts an eclectic programme of cultural and sporting events taking place throughout the year, with live theatre, catwalk displays, sporting events, jazz festivals, vintage clothes fairs, food markets, film screenings, dance performances and conferences. Each year, the Carreau also welcomes a new set of resident artists, who create specially commissioned artistic projects for the benefit of visiting tourists, schools and business trips. Plus, there's an on-site restaurant, Le JULES, which serves soups, salads, fish dishes and more, with a decent cocktail and smoothie menu to boot.