Archive for the ‘Hotel de Ville’ Category

L’Hotel de Ville

Monday, July 16th, 2012


yet another hall of mirrors?

Today, a group of us went with MICEFA to tour the Hotel de Ville (City Hall).  The tour was in French…. so I understood barely any of it.  Jenna summarized part of it and I learned that it is the City Hall, it was burned during the Revolution and had to be built, and that it was one of the first buildings to have electricity.  That’s pretty cool and the architecture was beautiful, but I was pretty bored from at first trying to understand the tour guide and only understanding a few words here and there, then I gave up and took in the architecture.  It was grand with arches with columns, gold, stained glass windows, painted ceilings, and chandeliers.  I could definitely see similarities between it and Versailles and the Opera, yet it seemed less overwhelming (perhaps it’s simply because I’m too used to grandeur from the other two visits?).  Still, it gave the impression of the power and wealth of France, as was likely the purpose for the Second Empire design.

Because I was unfortunately unable to learn too much during the tour, I did a little research to try and fill the gaps.  The initial City Hall was constructed between 1533 and 1628.  In 1871, it was occupied by revolters who subsequently burned it down.  Once the government regained control, they held a competition for the re-design of the building (just like with the Opera-I guess that was a popular strategy).  Théodore Ballu and Edouard Deperthes won with the idea of rebuilding the exterior of the building as it was (I think the tour guide said they changed it slightly to take up less room?), but using a new design for the interior.  I think it’s interesting how they used this technique to preserve the facade of the original building, showing that even back then history and old architecture was valued at least to a degree.  It’s also similar to regulations in some historic districts.  The Hotel de Ville is still used as the City Hall today.

Also, I just wanted to point out that the square outside of City Hall was enlarged by Baron Haussmann because he went about changing and modernizing just about everywhere in central Paris.