Hotel de Ville – The Grand City Hall In The Center 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 city 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 an Hotel de Ville that suited the capital of France.

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The Most Popular Activities in the Marais

Marais Food Tour with Wine & Cheese Tastings
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Marais 3-Hour Discovery Tour
A local guide leads you on a unique urban exploration with hidden gems and fascinating tales around every corner. You'll learn why the Marais is everyone's favorite quartier.
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History & the Hotel de Ville

Hotel de Ville Paris

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.)

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Hotel de Ville Paris after the Paris Commune, by Marville

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Over the 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. It took twenty years, but the city hall 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, who's making innovative proposals like curtailing traffic in the heart of the city. If you want to send her a message, go here

Activities at Hotel de Ville Paris

Hotel de Ville Paris

We always make a visit to the Hotel de Ville, whatever the season — it's one of those places in Paris where there's always something happening. The large place in front of the building (built by Baron Haussmann, and known as parvis de l'Hôtel de Ville) is spacious enough to hold the seasonal patinoireChristmas in Paris is made even more magical with this outdoor skating rink right in the middle of Paris!

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Noel village

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In some years a complete Noel village is created in the parvis. When our son was little he loved to ride on the turn-of-the-century children's carrousel that is permanently set up on the place. It has horses and lovely deep booths.

That's not to say that the parvis de l'Hôtel de Ville has always been a pedestrian paradise. (Remember the guillotine?) In that car-crazy urban planning era of the the 1950s, 60s, and 70s the space in front of Hotel de Ville was a parking lot, surrounded by a circle of busy traffic. Pedestrians who wanted to enjoy the small park risked life and limb to get there!

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Traffic ont eh parvis

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These days there's often an interesting exhibit inside the city hall itself. When the Les Halles are was undergoing its recent reconstruction, the city hosted an exhibit of the photographs Robert Doisneau shot when Les Halles was the Paris central market. During important national sporting events large screens have been set up in the parvis for public viewing.

Being in the center of the city, the Hotel de Ville is surrounded by a lot of interesting buildings and quartiers including the Pompidou Center, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Islands of the Seine, the Marais, and the book merchants (les bouqinistes) that line the banks of the Seine river.

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The Top Seine River Dinner Cruises

Privilege Dinner Cruise with Hotel Pickup
This romantic dinner cruise includes pick-up from your hotel a 4-course classic meal, and live music. #1 Traveler Choice.
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Marina de Paris Dinner Cruise on the Seine
Cruise down the Seine on a bateau while being served a 3-course gourmet meal prepared by a French chef. Hotel transportation included.
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Night Walking Tour

Night Walking Tours

The Hotel de Ville is included in a small-group walking tour that takes you on a nighttime journey to hidden Paris. We love this sort of guided tour — we discover off-the-beaten-path streets, narrow alleyways, and tucked-away buildings — while learning 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. It's on this kind of walking tour that you really get a feel for the 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 Resources

  • 1 Place de l'Hotel de Ville, 75004
  • Metro: Hotel de Ville, Line 1
  • Open: Monday to Saturday, 10 AM to 6 PM
  • Closed: Sundays and public holidays
  • All temporary exhibitions are free of charge

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