This quote, about our hero Jack trying to ditch a tail, from Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson helped me understand the original market at Les Halles in Paris better:
Someone behind him came in for brutal tongue-lashings from the fishwives at Les Halles. Jack overheard comparisons between his pursuer’s mustache, and the armpit hair of various infidel races. The hypothesis was floated, and generally agreed upon, that this policeman spent rather too much of his time performing oral sex on certain large farm animals infamous for poor hygiene. Beyond that, Jack’s French simply was not quick or vile enough. He trolled several times through Les Halles, hoping that the crowd, the smell of yesterday’s fish-guts, the fishwives, and sheer boredom would shake this man off his tail, but it didn’t work. Jack bought a loaf, so that he could explain why he’d come here, if someone bothered to ask, and to demonstrate that he was not a penniless vagrant, and also because he was hungry. (p. 491)
There’s another scene in the next chapter, also in Les Halles, that’s even raunchier than this one. Quite the place!
When I was in Les Halles, last year, it was a construction site.