Hôtel de Ville in Paris: You've seen the outside, now it's time to see the inside!

While walking from the Marais to the Île de la Cité, you may have marveled at the majestic Renaissance facade of the Hôtel de Ville and wondered if it's as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside. Thanks to the excellent tour organized by Véronique Kurtz, the Art History Director of WICE, I now know the answer to that question. Click on any of the photos that you would like to enlarge and see what you think.

With Baccarat chandeliers, silk curtains from Lyon and gold leaf, the Hôtel de Ville's opulent reception rooms pay homage to the glories of France.

Even though the ornate Salle des Fêtes may be reminiscent of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, interspersed amongst the paintings depicting music and dance are features representative of the French Republic. Liberté, Fraternité and Egalité ("Liberty, Fraternity and Equality") - these ideals are enshrined in gilded letters in this magnificent room.

Paintings in the Salon Jean-Paul Laurens recount the city's struggle for municipal freedom.

It is also where the mayor of Paris welcomes the newly elected president of France. Monsieur Nicholas Sarkozy, the current President of the French Republic, was solemnly received on Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 3:00 p.m. by Monsieur Bertrand Delanoe, the Mayor of Paris. I wonder if President Sarkozy will have the opportunity to return to this impressive room after the presidential elections in April 2012.

With paintings of some of the most illustrious scientists, writers and artists, the Salon des Arcades exalts Paris as the capital of science, literature and the arts.

The juxtaposition of the portrait of Andre-Marie Ampere, for whom the base SI of electrical current is named, with the luminescent Baccarat chandelier is a tangible reminder of the contributions that the French have made to the world.

In the Salon des Arcades, paintings also feature the tradespeople of Paris, such as carpenters, stained glass artisans, stone cutters and tapestry makers.

Reconstruction of the current Hôtel de Ville started in 1873 and lasted until 1892 (nineteen years) after the previous building was burnt by Commune extremists, who had been using it as their headquarters.

Free guided tours of the prestigious reception rooms of Hôtel de Ville are available for groups and individual visitors Monday through Friday by appointment. Telephone numbers 01 42 76 54 04 or 01 42 76 50 49.


  1. I've never been inside City Hall. Your use of the word "Renaissance" threw me for a loop--I've always thought of the Hotel as a Second Empire structure--the elaborate decorations, the mansard roofs, the opulence. So I did a brief internet search and must agree that there are portions of the building which might qualify as Renaissance, but I would call it French Renaissance.

    And an architect friend told me recently that one ounce of gold can cover the size of a tennis court--isn't that interesting? Ask Stephane if he would agree. I love gold leaf, burnished onto the wood, so extraordinary.

  2. Sorry that I didn't include more information about the history of the building. Our guide told us that the current Hotel de Ville was built during the Third Republic but that the architects decided on an almost identical reconstruction of the original Renaissance facade after the Communards burnt the Hotel de Ville to the ground in 1871.

    The construction of the original Renaissance building dates back to 1533 and was designed by the Italian Dominico da Cortona and Pierre Chambiges. It was significantly enlarged by Baron Hausmann during the Second Empire.

    Gold leaf is a bit of a sore point with me after what happened yesterday afternoon. After picking up the antique mirror with a gilded frame that we bought at St. Ouen a couple of weeks ago, I had the bright idea to wipe the dust off with a damp cloth. As I was wiping, I thought that it was strange that the gold was developing a reddish hue. Unfortunately, it took me awhile to realize that I had rubbed off some (quite a bit!) of the gold. At least, I'll be able to tell Stephane that we only need a little bit of gold to make the reparations since the frame isn't even close to the size of a tennis court. Thanks for that very timely piece of information.

  3. Great photos and impressive structure for your subject. Re: yesterday's post, I did in fact go on a river cruise at night and it was wonderful. Would I do it 3 times? not likely but for the first visit, it was on my "to do" list and it did not disappoint.

  4. ....oops, forgot to sign, but you know who

  5. Oh geez, I've lived in and around the Marais area for almost 2 years and didn't know that going inside Hotel de Ville was an option for the public. When people from out of town would ask me what it was, I'd tell them it was an office building. I'm such an idiot. : P

    What would I do without you, MK? You really are amazing.

  6. What a beautiful building. Our Hotel de Ville in Boussac has a couple of rather nice tapestries and ... um, that's it! I really MUST get to Paris with my daughter soon to do some sightseeing. I was last there when I was 21 and that's way longer ago than I wish it was!

  7. Nancy, I took way too many photos of the Hotel de Ville. It was hard to resist because it seemed as if each room was more impressive than the last.

    MademoisElla, It's amazing what you can discover when you're not busy working at a real job. ;-) There are lots of offices in the building and there's even a nursery for the children of the employees. Evidently, Bertrand Delanoe divided the apartment that is reserved for the mayor and had half of it converted it into a nursery. The reception rooms would be a great place to take your out-of-town visitors. It's a lot closer than Versailles and very impressive.

    Steph, I didn't realize that you have another blog! Had I known that you're into knitting I would have told you about the exhibition at the Danish House last week. It would have a been a good reason to come to Paris, but unfortunately it ended on November 20. Here's a link with more info:

    The Art of Wool

    I tried to go there after the Hermes auction last week but it didn't open until later in the afternoon, so I missed it. It looked really interesting.

  8. The richness of artwork and attention to detail is beyond amazing. Hotel de Ville seems even more richer in the inside than outside!