the massive redevelopment of forum des halles, one of paris' largest shopping malls and also the most important hub in the city's transporation system, has finally been completed. the new curvilinear structure, modernly inspired is by plant life, flaunts an awe-inspiring undulating canopy of steel and glass, lending it the appearance of a spaceship that has just landed in the lush greens of the adjacent city park – yes, that too is part of the urban transformation project. champeaux, the latest restaurant – or rather brasserie – by legendary chef alain ducasse and entrepreneur olivier maurey, is one of the many new tenants of the complex, and named after a popular establishment that was founded in the neighbourhood in 1800.
champeaux is conceptualized as an accessible dining venue, but one that pairs a cool contemporary setting with quality french cuisine. paris-based architecture practice ciguë created an interior that honours the concept, but added a number of subtle twists to make it stand out. champeaux occupies a spacious 620 sqm. [6,674 sq.ft.[ ground floor unit, seating no less than 180 guests and another 80 on the outdoor terrace. the setting is clearly inspired by the classic american diner, but the palette of materials and hues makes it european, if not distinctly french. a backdrop of walls covered in plaster stucco and slabs of mirrors form the backdrop of custom-made elongated sofas paired with tables with a terrazzo top and chairs crafted from steel and leather.
there's actually heaps of terrazzo to be found, as the material is also used for flooring throughout the premises. a sizeable bar, dipped in an offsetting white hue, takes center stage in the setting as mixology is a pivotal part of the venue's concept, and a series of signature cocktails have been created. adding the aforementioned edge are suspended tubular light fixtures and brass pendant lamps that beautifully blend with the utility pipes that meander across the ceiling, and a split flap board that was once used in a train station now announces the establishment's extensive range of dishes. champeaux also features a private salon for fourteen people, overlooking the adjacent square.
it's an intimate dining area, ideal for celebrating a family event with friends, or for a business meal. the setting has been given special attention, and features tables sourced by ducasse himself from a local antique shop. the appealing menu, supervised in collab with executive chef bruno bangea, lists a wide range of french classics, from small bites, such as croque monsieur and a sandwich with beef and pickles, to full blown dishes with fish, poultry and meat, and iconic french specialties you always wanted to try. indeed, we're talking snails and foie gras. location: forum des halles, 12 passage de la canopée, porte rambuteau [étienne marcel].
© ciguë / photography: maris mezulis