When I saw the statue facing the Seine and the Ile St-Louis I had no idea who was that hero of Paris. Étienne Marcel, provost of the merchants (i.e. mayor) of Paris, bought in 1357 for the municipality of Paris the so-called Maison aux Piliers located on the Grève, a shingle beach serving as a river port.
This house became later the Hôtel de Ville de Paris.
His political career was a complex one at a period when the feudal society entered a crisis.
King Philippe le Bel set up the "Etats Généraux" (Estates General) where the nobility, the clergy, and the cities were represented.
Étienne Marcel was with Jacob van Artevelde mayor of Gent in Flanders, one of the best known actors in a profound reform movement.
Both, mayors of large powerful cities were assassinated; van Artevelde in 1345 and Étienne Marcel by the Parisian bourgeois in 1358.
Standing in front of the Hôtel de Ville I remembered that this square was before 1802, called the Place de Grève.
In my books I often read "sera pendu en Place de Grève!".
It was the site of most of the public executions. The gallows and the pillory stood there.
It was here, but the square was smaller, that on 25 April 1792 the first guillotine beheaded Nicolas Jacques Pelletier. In those times it was considered that the guillotine was a marked progress compared to the previous methods of executing criminals. The French Revolution decided that the execution of a death sentence should be the same for all and done by a machine in a short, efficient manner; the end of the cruel practices under the Ancien Régime like burning at the stake, dismemberment, breaking wheel, etc.
It's a pleasure to look at the Hôtel de Ville de Paris from the Île Saint-Louis across the Seine.
The City of Paris's administration is housed in nothing less than a Renaissance Palace built in 1533 by the decision of King François I with Dominique de Cortone and Pierre Chambiges as architects and finished under the reign of Louis XIII.
During the Commune de Paris in 1871 the building was set on fire and rebuilt a few years later from the existing walls in the same French Renaissance style but the interior was rebuilt and decorated in the 1880s style.
Most surprising for me are the large number of statues, 108, representing French cities and famous Parisians, among with Charles Le Brun and André Le Nôtre well known for Versailles. There is also somewhere on the side façade a statue of writer Alfred de Musset from who I read recently "La Confession d'un enfant du siècle" a good way to plunge in the past world of Romanticism.
There are even statues on the roof. Next time I'll bring binoculars with me!
City Hall is a palace in the centre of Paris, built in the 14th century. In 1533 king Francis decided to build a bigger palace and the former building was replaced.
A long history have those walls, that, in the revolucionary period, were set on fire by extremists, being reconstructed afterwards with the actual look.
Hotel de Ville is at the center of the extensive square which served as a place of a public execution during centuries. There is the Municipality of the city now. Earlier, in XVI century there was a building in style of Renaissance at this place. But it burned down in a fire of 1871, during battles which led to falling of the Commune.
The modern building was constructed in the same style later. All the complex with its pavilions topped by domes in the form of truncated pyramids, and with set of the statues placed everywhere, is impressive and original. Really, there are 136 statues at four facades, and at a terrace of a roof - statue of Etienne Marcel - the head of a guild of the Parisian merchants are totaled. He was an instigator of the disorders that shaken Paris in the XIV-th century.
You can watch my 1 min 12 sec Video Paris Late evening walk out of my Youtube channel.
The Mairie de Paris (Town Hall) web site now has a virtual tour in English (well, a woman speaking in French but with English subtitles and captions) that shows images of the beautiful interior, and explains the interesting history of the building and its importance to Parisians.
Check it out!!! It's VERY IMPRESSIVE!!!
A great way to familiarize yourself with this beautiful building (probably the most magnificent in Paris) before actually going there for a visit.
A Short Synopsis:
The Town hall is closely linked to the history of Paris.
The first Town Hall was built in 1357 by the Leader of the Merchants, Etienne Marcel.
It symbolized the acquired municipal freedoms against the rule of King Charles V.
During the 16 century, King François I rebuilt the Town Hall in a Renaissance style.
During the 19 century, it has been used twice as a refuge for the republicans who proclaimed there, the Second and the Third Republic in 1848 and 1870, after the fall of King Louis Philippe and Napoleon III.
But the terrible defeat of Napoleon led to a terrible action: Parisians rebelled against the republican authorities. They invaded the Town Hall and on March 28, 1871 and the Commune of Paris was proclaimed. Repression was extremely hard. The insurrectionists ended up setting fire at the Town Hall.
It has been rebuilt to its identical in the years between 1873-1882.
Since 1977, the Mayor of Paris directed there the debates of the City Council
Hotel de Ville (Paris City Hall), designed by Deperthes and Ballu, is one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. It is situated in the centre of a huge square, it’s the seat of city’s authorities but it’s also the front square there that several events take place like concerts, ice rink during winter, videowalls for big football matches like world cup etc
I never been inside but there are daily tours for groups
Not very far from the City Hall you can find the head de Mille (pic 2) which is great opportunity for a funny pic of you in between the huge head
Built in the 1800's as a reconstruction of the Town Hall which burnt down in 1871. The square in front was once used for hangings and other styles of executions. It is now used for elaborate dinners and official functions.
This grand Renaissance-style edifice is l'Hôtel de Ville de Paris, the city hall of Paris. It was built in the late 19th century identically to a previous 16th century Hôtel de Ville de Paris structure, which had burnt down in 1871 during the turbulent times of the Paris Commune. This site has been the location of l'Hôtel de Ville de Paris since the 14th century. In wintertime, an ice skating rink is built on the place de l'Hôtel de Ville.
For some reason, I felt that one of the most fantastic things to do in Paris in February was...
I live in Canada, so it is somewhat laughable that I needed to cross an ocean to skate. But, that said, skating in Paris, in front of the Hotel de Ville, adjacent to a carousel and surrounded by busy Parisians, was one of the best experiences of my trip!
There was a rink outside of the Montparnasse metro station, which was alright... but I held out until I could get to the Hotel de Ville. The ice rinks were open in mid-February still (and apparently stay open until March, weather permitting).
Suspend your disbelief and just go! It is very much worth your time and the 5 Euro skate rental.
(I've linked to a great "What's Happening" website... it has the rink hours and a great deal of other useful information.)
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