The Hotel de Ville – The City Hall of Paris

The Hotel de Ville — that is, the Paris City Hall — is one of the enduring landmarks in the city and it's been that way since the mayor of Paris first moved to the site in 1357. Initially, the seat of Paris government was in the house owned by whoever was mayor. It wasn't until 1533 that the French king Francis I decided to grace the city with a Hotel de Ville that suited the capital of France.

Over the following centuries the building was completed and expanded. But, in 1871 Hotel de Ville Paris was set afire during the Paris Commune as a result of a clash between Communards and the central government. Over the space of the next twenty years the Hotel de Ville was rebuilt inside of the original stone shell, which was all that remained after the fire. This is the version of the City Hall we see today. The Hotel de Ville is the official office of the Mayor of Paris and of local government. In case you're wondering, the current mayor is Spanish-born Anne Hidalgo, the first woman ever to hold the office. If you want to send her a message, go here!

Hotel de Ville Paris Activities

Hotel de Ville Paris

We always make a visit to the Hotel de Ville whatever the season. It's one of those place where there's always something happening.

The large place in front of the building (courtesy of Baron Haussmann) is spacious enough to hold the seasonal patinoire, or skating rink. Christmas in Paris is made even more magical with this outdoor skating rink right in the middle of Paris!

When our son Alexandre was little he loved the turn-of-the-century children's carrousel that is permanently set up on the place. It has horses and lovely deep booths.

There's often an interesting exhibit to visit in the city hall itself. Recently, for instance, there was an exhibit of the photographs Robert Doisneau shot at Les Halles, the old Paris central market. During important national sporting events, such as France playing the the soccer World Cup, large screens are installed in front of the building for public viewing.

The Hotel de Ville is close to many interesting buildings and museums including the Pompidou Center, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Islands, the Marais and the book merchants (les bouqinistes) that line the banks of the Seine river.

Night Walking Tour

Hotel de Ville Paris

The Hotel de Ville is included in a small-group walking tour that takes you on a journey to hidden Paris.

Discover off-the-beaten-path streets , narrow alleyways, and tucked-away buildings where you'll learn about the violent and dark history that lurks beneath the City of Light.

The history of Paris includes the plague, the French Revolution, the Paris Commune and the Nazi Occupation. Learn about the French icons that shaped the city, from early French kings Chlothar the Old and Clovis the Lazy, to Napoleon and Marie Antoinette.

Ghosts, Mysteries and Legends: A Night Walking Tour of Paris visits the Hotel de Concierge, where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned, and travels to the Hotel de Ville, site of executions and hangings. It even takes in the Rat Trap Shop featured in the movie Ratatouille.

Hotel de Ville Facts

  • Starting in the 14th-century, the Hotel de Ville place was execution central where crowds would gather to watch the gory spectacle.
  • In 1792, a guillotine was installed, which would get a lot of use during the French Revolution. Luckily, the last execution took place in 1830.
  • 1 Place de l'Hotel de Ville, 75004
  • Metro: Hotel de Ville
  • Open: Mon to Sat, 10 am to 6 pm
  • Closed: Sundays and public holidays
  • All temporary exhibitions are free of charge

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