12.3.12

Paris Town Hall ... again




The Paris Town Hall (L’Hôtel de Ville) has already been present is some of my posts, but passing by the other day I thought I should really try to show and underline to which extent the building is almost overloaded with decorative details.

Once more, maybe first some history and geography: The Town Hall is situated at what is logically called Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, but what was until 1803 called “Place de Grève”*.  Here is a comparison between early 17th century and today.


*/ “Grève” originates from “grava” in the old Gallic language and means gravel. Today, “grève” means strike in French. The explanation is that jobless people met here, but the original meaning of “faire la grève” - “looking for a job” has during the later centuries rather got the opposite meaning.

As we can see from this later artist impression (which I have “stolen” from an excellent site) we can see how the place originally was a sloping beach which served as a river port. 








The place has also been known as one of the leading execution places in Paris, during centuries by burning, quartering, beheading... This is where the guillotine first came into use in 1792. The guillotine served frequently here until 1832 (see previous post about the guillotine)
















What you may refer to as Paris’ first Town Hall was erected here in 1357 - a modest building referred to as “La Maison aux Pilliers” (The House on Pillars). On the south side of today’s building you can find the equestrian statue of Etienne Marcel, who can be considered to be the first Mayor of Paris, although his title was different. He was lynched in 1358. 


A new more worthy edifice was built in episodes between 1533 and 1628, in a renaissance style, and it looked very much like the one we still can see today. In the early 19th century two wings were added.  During the exited days of the war with the Prussians and of the “Paris Commune”, the Town Hall was in 1871 set on fire and only part of the walls remained. The reconstruction which lasted from 1873 to 1892 was made in a spirit to keep the outside”as it was”, whereas the interior was completely rethought. 


It’s amazing to see how the copying of the original exterior has been executed in detail. 


I have had the pleasure to visit the interior and made a post about it. 


But this post was, as said above, meant to illustrate the very richly decorated exterior. 230 sculptors (including Auguste Rodin) produced 338 statues of famous Parisians and a lot of other sculptural features.











You can find my other posts about the Town Hall here, here and here

22 comments:

Flartus said...

This has always been one of my favorite buildings in Paris. I think because I first saw it as a teenager, and it was so very different from anything I'd ever seen before. There really is a lot to look at on this facade!

Shammickite said...

Just look at those chimneys! Amazing!

Virginia said...

J'adore l'hôtel de vIlle! What a great day we had seeing the Sempé exhibit there. I never tire of photographing it any season, as there's always something great going on. Your photos and history make it even more special. Peter.
V

French Girl in Seattle said...

Wonderful post, Peter - and welcome back, by the way! - As always, thoroughly researched and well written, with great illustrations "before and after." Funny: To me, that grandiose building will always equal "Jacques Chirac." He was the mayor of Paris for most of my years in the French capital... We moved to the US a few months after he was elected President. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Olivier said...

Paris , vu par toi, merite bien son nom de ville musée. superbe serie

This is Belgium said...

amazing post
I like the hotel the ville
but never looked at it with so much precision as you !

Cezar and Léia said...

The sculptures are outstanding and the tower clock is wonderful!
Again, an awesome reportage post!
Léia

Honest Abe said...

The old town hall has gone through some major changes to keep it looking this good. Looks like it was bombed during the war.

Synne said...

That really is an overwhelmingly detailed building! I love the sloping rails on the tower, and all the beautiful statues!

Studio at the Farm said...

GREAT post, Peter! What a gorgeous and ornate building. Thank you, again - I loved the photos and the bits of history.

hpy said...

N'oublions pas le BHV!

Peter (the other) said...

So many times upon leaving BHV, pushing through the various crowds and distractions with hands full of bags (get out of my way!) to wait for the 67 bus... back against the wall on the Quai de Gesvres... I have thought about the place. Thanks for clearing up that the external walls are mostly original. As a communard sympathizer I have always held conflicted feelings about the recreation of the building (as I have for Sacre Coeur). But in the future, while I idle watching the river traffic and in summer, the girls sur la plage, I will picture the original plage, and that horrific machine banging heads off, like fish.

Cergie said...

De quand date ton reportage ? Je croyais que la patinoire allait être démontée ces jours ci ?
J'ai montré un peu l'intérieur de l'Hôtel de Ville, j'ai failli y passer aujourd'hui mais il était trop tard, j'ai eu la flemme, l'expo Doisneau ce sera pour une prochaine fois (j'ai pris un pass d'un an pour le musée Beaubourg)
(Le café Marguerite n'est plus si beau)

Catherine said...

Another fascinating post with so much info and detail.....great ps am in Paris 9 - 14 april if you would like to meet up for a little photo trek in Paris? Free rings from the riviera....

Catherine said...

That should read greetings from the riviera - missed the silly predictive text on thebipad!

Shionge said...

Hiya Peter..I didn't forget you but just been busy busy :) Pardon me if I popped in and not leave any comments sometimes.

I do find your photos therapetic and there has always been a sense of urge to visit Paris. An all time favourite and being there three times....my daughters twice....Paris is like our second home :)

DeniseCovey_L_Aussie said...

Hi Peter. I have fond memories of the Hotel de Ville, especially in winter with the skating rink in front of it. I loved knowing more about its history.

Denise

claude said...

L' Hôtel de Ville de paris est un très beau bâtiment. Merci pour cet intéressant post, surtout pour les explications sur la place de Grève, de triste renommée.

Ruby said...

I love the sculptures in the buildings. Very beautiful! xox Ruby

arabesque said...

this facade truly explains its glorified and rich history. ^0^

lovely fotos.

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

Peter -- I was going to go straight to the Notre Dame post as instructed by Paul, and instead got distracted by this AMAZING post. I love it. I have photographed a lot of the details and read about the Hôtel de Ville before, but you have tied everything together in such an excellent way, characteristic of your comprehensive work! I enjoyed this so much! Thank you. (Okay, now off to the post about Notre Dame!!)

Jeanie said...

Oh, Peter -- this is only a few blocks from where we will stay with our friend and so familiar. But I wasn't nearly so familiar with the history! As always, your photos dazzle. What an incredible facade. Now I must look through your old posts! I have a feeling that I will want to tour the inside if it is open to guests!