L'Hotel de Ville, Paris
Hotel De Ville is the seat of the Paris city authorities. It stands on the site of the old City Hall which was burned down in 1871. Tours are conducted daily for groups and only by appoitment.
During the Christmas holidays an ice skating arena is erected in front of the Hotel De Ville to the delightment of all the children (and adults as well).
One of the best views in Paris is to look at the Hôtel de Ville from the Île Saint-Louis across the Seine. The Palace in French Renaissance style is splendid. Standing on the square the façade and the roof with the large number of statues representing French cities and famous Parisians are most surprising.
What interested me is that this square was before 1802, called the Place de Grève.
In my books I often read "sera pendu" or "sera brulé en Place de Grève!".
It was the site of most of the public executions. The gallows and the pillory stood there.
It was here that in 1792 the first guillotine was used and in those times it was considered that the guillotine was a marked progress compared to the previous methods of the Ancien Régime for executing criminals like burning at the stake, dismemberment, breaking wheel, etc.
"Autres temps, autres mœurs" we say.
The Hôtel de Ville de Paris, Paris Town hall was built at the end of the 19th at the same place that a much older Town hall building, burnt and destroyed during riots in 1870. It has a strange neo Renaissance style. I cannot say if it is beautiful or ugly as it is so special!
In 2006, it was holding a large poster for Ingrid Betancourt, hostage in Colombia since February 22nd 2002 and made honorary citizen of Paris. Posters for several hostages in the Middle East were also hung on the building. They were removed when they were freed. Only Ingrid Betancourt remained...
Fondest memory: The site of the new campaign of the International Federation of Betancourt Committees tries to bring together, the maximum number of photos of people from all over the world in order to show international support for the liberation of all hostages held in Colombia.
There is a certain poster (see opp.) that adorns student walls all over the place. The great beauty of the picture is whether is has been caught 'candidly' or whether it was staged.
When the woman featured in Robert Doisneau's classic photograph of a couple kissing outside Paris city hall sold her original print at auction then we knew the answer - it was staged.
The picture in question , "Kiss by the Hotel de Ville", sold for 155,000 euros recently.
Francoise Bornet and her then boyfriend agreed to pose for the picture in 1950.
You too can recreate the scene outside the town hall (Hotel d'ville) by getting a load of photo equipment and getting a friend to set it up. Then find a long coat, pull your head through a hedge backwards, and finally approach a likely looking statuesque Freenchwoman for a surprised snatched kiss. It may work, and you can sell your work for a fortune or, alternatively you may end up in hospital with bruised shins and on a charge of sexual harrassment.
Favorite thing: The Hotel de Ville is one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris, and the square in front of it is the site for numerous events - World Cup matches on a big screen, ice rink in winter, and so on. At night, the lights make it look even better. On important dates, the building is decorated with French flags, or why not, American ones on the 4th of July! And they say the French are hostile towards Americans...
Favorite thing: Hotel de Ville - which is no hotel (as an innocent swiss teacher claimed - no name/no shame) but in fact the town hall. It's still my class' favourite sight after I made up a great story about how fashionable and expensive the rooms of the hotel are. Everyone believed it, hehehe, even my colleague!
Favorite thing: On the way from Notre Dame to the Louvre I past the ice skating rink in front of the Hotel du Ville. Everyone was having a blast, even the spectators. Obviously not a summer thing!