The Hôtel de Ville, Headquarters of the Parisian Revolution
In 1789 a Renaissance building stood here, built under the impetus of Francois I and completed around 1620 in order to house the municipal administration. This building, with more modest dimensions than the current Hôtel de Ville, established itself as one of the main centers of the Revolution. On July 14, 1789, mayor Jacques de Flesselles (who was then called the Provost of Merchants) was killed along with Launay, the governor of the Bastille. Over the course of the following days, the new elected municipality assembled. On July 17th, the new mayor Jean-Sylvain Bailly hosted Louis XVI’s visit. On October 5th, it was from here that women left for Versailles in order to ask the king to lower the price of bread. Lastly, in 1792, it was here where the first guillotine executions were held, while the insurrectionary commune was proclaimed. Seen as the center of the radical revolution, the Hôtel de Ville was also Robespierre’s last refuge before he was arrested and eventually executed, on July 28, 1794. The Hôtel de Ville that stood during the Revolution was burned during the Commune of Paris (1871); the current building dates from the end of the 19th century.
Rue de Rivoli, fountain in front of the Hôtel de Ville
The Hôtel de Ville and its neighborhood
A la Lanterne (Hang’em High)!
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Paris and the colors of the nation
On July 17, 1789, Louis XVI appeared at one of the Hôtel de Ville’s windows with a blue-white-red cockade in hand. The gesture was powerful. The alliance of colors symbolized the accord between the king and the nation in revolution. The white ribbon, used as a standard and flag for the monarchy, was tied together with two other red and blue ribbons; the colors of the City of Paris had now become those of an entire nation. However, the tricolor was also inspired from the blue-white-red colors of the recent American and Dutch revolutions (1775-1783) and (1783-1787), respectively.