Inside Hotel de Ville: Paris Esprit d’Entreprise

Pretty in Pink: Salle des Fetes, Hotel de Ville, Paris

What do you do when the mayor of Paris invites you to a soiree at the Hotel de Ville?

Well, you go.

A few weeks ago I was surprised to find an elegant envelope in my mailbox. The return address simply said, “the mayor of Paris.”

When I opened it, I found the above invitation. Bertrand Delanoe, Mayor of Paris (and all of these other people) have the pleasure of inviting you to an evening event of the “Paris Business Spirit” network. (That all sounds much better en francais).

At first I didn’t understand why I received this invitation for entreprises.

And then, I remembered: Oh yeah, I’m an entreprise! An entrepreneur!

An autoentrepreneur, to be exact.

Me hard at work. Just kidding! That's me pretending to be a bohemian writer at Shakespeare & Co!

The autoentrepreneur status started in 2009 as a way for the French government to encourage more people to create their own business. (You’re probably not shocked to learn that starting a business here involves a lot of work, paper and otherwise.)

The autoentrepreneur regime simplifies the process. (Like *way* simplifies it. Hey, even I could do it!)

Anyway, I always kind of forget that this puts me in the same category in some respects as being a “business.” Because to be clear, I’m an independent person, but “entrepreneur” is not a word I ever applied to myself before. Signing up for this status speaks more to my continuing quest to avoid ever returning to a regular 9-5 if I can help it than it does to my incredible business prowess.

When I realized what the invitation was about I said, ah-ha! Here’s my chance to see rooms inside the Hotel de Ville I’ve never seen before! (The fact that this was my first thought rather than, hey, here’s my chance to network and possibly find some useful resources probably demonstrates my lack of business prowess).

The weather has turned frigid here in Paris, so the idea of privileged access was the only thing that got me out into the cold last night to attend. I’ll take photos, I bargained with myself.

And I did.

I come in peace, kind sir

Upward! The excitement builds

Dang it's purty in here!

I need this lamp for my living room

Whoa, what's glowing pink behind those curtains?

Wow. This.

Ok, maybe I should go in and see who's here

Nah, let me take a photo of the ceiling instead

After timidly visiting the information tables for half an hour, I was relieved when we were all called into the main salle des fetes for the program to begin.

Four “adjoints” of the mayor with long titles spoke about how great it was that we had all taken the initiative to start our businesses and that all of us, in one way or another, benefitted from the services provided by the city of Paris.

After that, four people got the chance to come on stage, show a video about their project, and then be awkwardly interviewed by the adjoints.

One person started “Marché sur l’Eau” (I quite like that name. If I’ve understood correctly, it can be a play on words. “Market on the Water” but it also sounds like “Walk on Water.”). Anyway, the association distributes fruit and vegetable baskets transported by boat. (Eco!)

Another, Petit Bain, is a concert hall/restaurant/cool place on water. (Again with the agua theme!)

I didn’t catch the names of the others because well…people were talking. While the people chatted on stage, the crowd chatted, too. The acoustics in the hall also weren’t so great. The crowd was told to hush a few times. (Shh! scolded an adjoint into the microphone). I felt like we were at a high school assembly in a palace.

When the presentations ended, the buffet with tasty savory and sweet morsels, plus free-flowing alcohol, opened to the crowd. Unsurprisingly, people descended upon the tables like hawks.

I spent most of the evening people-watching. There were quite a few attractive men in attendance (hey! I’m single and it’s very cold! Who doesn’t like a cuddle?). I put it together: the term “jeunes createurs” kept being bandied about. Yes, here were the ambitious young.

These people are mingling, unlike me, who is busy taking their picture

Of course, I barely talked to any of the beautiful people. (“So, I created a floating concert hall, what do you do? Um, I write website copy?”)

I ran into the owner of the dance school where I take classes (random!) And then talked to some guy who did something with cars (also random!). He started talking to me because I was hanging out by the macaron table (um, duh!) and he couldn’t help noticing that I was trying really hard not to dance.

Yep, that’s right.

After the buffet had been open for a little while, they turned on the music. “Move On Up” was the first song. Come on. How can you not move to Motown?

Next up: “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

Next: “Heart of Glass” by Blondie.

No one else seemed to be having this problem, but I find it nearly impossible not to boogie a little when there’s dancey music. Clearly, this was not the venue for that, but I wondered just what the heck was up with that song selection then.

Before my inappropriate dance affliction went any further, I popped one more macaron for the road then took off.

I’d say it was worth braving the sub zero (Celsius) temperatures to attend. N’est-ce pas?

Thanks, Mr. Mayor.

* * *

Website of the Hotel de Ville: http://www.paris.fr/
The Hotel de Ville also plays host to many free exhibitions if you’d like to visit.

* * *

Seriously, how are you *not* supposed to dance to this?

“So what we have to do is move on up
And keep on wishing
Remember your dream
Is your only scheme….”
-Curtis Mayfield

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24 Responses to “Inside Hotel de Ville: Paris Esprit d’Entreprise”


  1. 1 animasolaarts February 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I love this. It sounds like something I would do: Go to a networking event and spend the whole time taking pictures, contemplating the DJ’s choices and eating macarons. Thanks for the peek inside the Hotel de Ville!

  2. 5 Lupinssupins February 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Ah, mais quelles belles photos! Absolutely gorgeous! I guess we never hear of touring it because Paris city business is complicated enough w/o having their HQ crawling w/ hordes of tourists? As I linked on your Facebook post, here’s our St. Louis City Hall, said to be copied from l’Hotel de Ville de Paris: http://stlcin.missouri.org/history/structdetail.cfm?Master_ID=1326
    Congrats on your invitation to the inner sanctum!

    • 6 paris (im)perfect February 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      Hey, your city hall does strike a remarkable resemblance. How cool! The Hotel de Ville usually has some great (free!) art exhibitions and you can see part of it, but much of it is closed off, obviously. Not sure if there are tours where you can take a sneak peek. I should investigate!

  3. 7 Lindsey February 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    So cool! Would love to see the inside of L’Hôtel de Ville! I’m an AE but didn’t receive an invite – you were picked from the lucky hat it seems! Awesome that you got to go =)

    • 8 paris (im)perfect February 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Yes, definitely lucky. But hey, we have to spread the luck around, right? You get to do so many awesome things to which I don’t get the special invite! Fortunately we both like to share on our blogs so we can get the sneak peek at what we’ve missed! :)

  4. 9 Tanya in Transition February 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Let me start with the first song. I love, love, ADORE that song!!! When I bought my first apartment a few years back, my younger brother and I (he moved in with me) played that as our first tune in our first place. So cool and so fun and how could you not dance?!?!

    Anyway, great photos and what a cool experience! I’m waiting — not holding my breath though — for M. Christian Estrosi (Nice’s mayor) to invite me to city hall too for a little fete or some other social get together. I can dream, right?

    • 10 paris (im)perfect February 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm

      Thank you, Tanya. I wish you had been there with me. We could have started a dance party and I think *that* would have been really interesting.

      But right? I honestly don’t know how you don’t dance to that song. I was physically restraining myself, but the guy still noticed me bopping along. Shake it, people! Feels good!

      Mr. Mayor wasn’t actually at this shindig, by the way, but hey, pretty darn good. I’m sure M. Estrosi will be sending you an invitation any day now :)

  5. 11 Helen W. Mallon February 2, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    I loved the photo essay. Almost as much as the unironic pink chandeliers. Anywhere else in the world, they’d have any one of many different meanings…This was simply THIS. Hope your business really floats!

  6. 13 FrenchTwistDC February 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    How gorgeous! I’m only been inside once for Les Journees du Patrimoine. What a fun experience!

  7. 15 Dienna February 5, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Wow, those are lovely photos. The pink is really eye-catching.

    I agree with you regarding music. When I hear something that moves me, I need to move to it. I find I’m usually the only one reacting to the music, while everyone else acts like it’s background noise.

  8. 19 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) February 5, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Cool pics! What an impressive place!

    Most of all, I wholeheartedly admire you getting out and about in the freezing cold weather. Serious props to you for that!! And thanks for telling us all about it. :)

  9. 21 Tweed Librarian February 6, 2012 at 5:28 am

    What a beautiful place! And as I fellow introvert, I’d be doing the exact same thing.

  10. 23 Susan Ross Donohue February 8, 2012 at 4:01 am

    That’s very exciting! Good for you! Enjoyed reading all about it :)


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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