We visit Hôtel de Ville – and it’s amazing!

We made the most of the Open House event in September to visit this astonishing building. It is not as visited as a lot of other Parisian monuments, and yet guided tours are available all year round if you can organise yourself a little in advance. We explain how to gain entrance, and let you have a look at our photos…

photos: JasonW
photos: JasonW


At the heart of Paris – both geographically and organisationally – Hôtel de Ville is an impressive building from the outside and surprisingly rich on the inside! The original building was burned down in 1871 during the Commune Revolt, but was rapidly reconstructed with the new building being inaugurated in 1882.

It was decided that the room show pay homage to the professions that made Paris what it is, but also certain civic values such as learning and prudence… in giant sized rooms with gold leaf as impressive as the city itself.

If you didn’t know that Hôtel de Ville contained such treasures, you’ll be surprised!

From the very start of the visit you can tell you are in for something special: the ceremonail staircase (a copy of the one in the Senate) leads up to rooms with extremely high ceilings and details everywhere (Salle des Arcades, Salle des Fêtes)…

The history of the building is long but fascinating, and we advise to check out the great virtual visit here, in French with English subtitles. In several short sections, supplemented by photos and animations, a guide takes you through the building, including rooms that were not available to visit when we went.

We could never go through the entire history with you, but perhaps you will understand why we were attracted to the place if you look at our photos of the various rooms, each more splendid than the last. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find all the necessary information for organising your own visit (visits are free of course).

Some of the decoration and painting on the ceilings is really magnificent, with little details everywhere. Not a corner has been left without being painted, sculpted or covered with gold leaf!

We also appreciated the stained glass windows – obviously more recent – and their bold colours showing scenes from Parisian life…

Even the cafeteria is chic!

Next, we move on to rooms of a slightly more modest size, although still impressive, like the council boardroom…

And at the end of the visit you arrive at the mayor’s staircase and office (rather modern with a more austere, serious feeling to it, even if the ceiling is still incredibly high).

If you’d like to visit Hôtel Ville, here’s how.

Visits for groups are organised every week in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and even Russian. Just call 01 42 76 54 04 at least 2 months in advance.

For individual visitors, a visit is organised each week (two per week in Summer), in French only and limited to 30 people. The day of the visit can be variable, so call 01 42 76 43 43 on Thursday to be told when the next visit is on.

Otherwise, you can always just wait for the next Open House event in September! We hope that our photo report will spur you into going to see the place yourself.

To see all the photos of our visit to Hôtel de Ville, click here or watch the slideshow below (click play, then the four arrows in the bottom right corner to see in fullscreen).