The Forts des Halles of Paris

Les “Forts” des Halles de Paris was the name of the handlers whose mission were the safety and transport of the goods from the outside to the inside of the 12 Baltard pavilions which formed the Halles of Paris, its big central market created in 1137: poultry and game butters and eggs, meats, fruits and vegetables…. or “the pavilion of the tide” where we find Florent, the main character of the belly of Paris of Émile Zola…
Its members were easily identifiable thanks to their vast hats, the coltin, with a lead disc built-in helping to support heavy loads when carried on the head. The Forts formed a very famous brotherhood in the capital, created under the reign of Louis IX during the 13th century.

We give the Forts the authorship of the tanktop Marcel

It is generally considered that the Forts were the creators, in the middle of the 19th century, of the first prototype of the French Original tanktop later called Marcel. Bringing more mobility to the arms, while keeping its wearer cooler during days of high heat, this garment quickly established itself in the profession.
A Manufacture from the city of Roanne in the middle part of France, headed by Marcel Eisenberg, is betting on this revolutionary clothe which leaves the shoulders bare and gives birth to the so-called Marcel tanktop which will become famous throughout the world.

la ligue des façonneurs c'est quoi ?

Not hired who wants …

The organization of the Fort was very hierarchical, the chiefs were recognized by their silver medal, while the simple forts wore a simple copper medal. Their motto was “Strength and Honor.”
The hiring conditions of the Forts des Halles were rigorous. To be admitted to the corporation the applicant had to fulfill the following conditions:

  • To be of French nationality
  • To have done military service
  • To have a clean criminal record
  • To measure at least 1.67 meters
  • To be able to carry a load of 200 kg over a distance of 60 meters

Traditions and disappearance

The Forts were regarded as a kind of aristocracy in Les Halles. A Parisian tradition wanted them to offer some lily of the valley, to the French President at the Palais de l’Elysée on each May 1st (Labor Day in France).
Each year the Forts participated also in the Paris Carnival to parade where each pavilions had its chariot.
During the last years of their existence the Forts were responsible of the security and surveillance of  pavilions ” des halles”. They were employed by the Paris Prefecture of Police. The brotherhood of the Forts disappeared in 1969 when the more modern Rungis market opened.