The site has been the seat of city government since the 14th century, when Etienne Marcel acquired a modest building, "Maison aux Piliers", and set up the first municipal assembly comprised of merchants who held a monopoly on everything that went up and down the river.
150 years later, during the French Revolution, pitched battles were fought outside the Hôtel de Ville, dramatically captured in this painting by Jean Victor Schnetz.
On our tour of the reception rooms, it was clear that no detail or expense had been spared on the interior decorations. The Grande Salle des Fêtes stretches the length of a football field, lit by dazzling Baccarat crystal chandeliers...
...with beautifully painted ceiling panels, depicting an invitation to the ball, music, dance, flowers and perfume, all surrounded by loads of ornate gold and interspersed with the words "liberté, égalité, fraternité"...
The adjacent Salon Georges Bertrand is devoted to rural life. At the end of the 19th century 80% of the population were farmers. This lavish wood-panelled room is dedicated to them.
In the center of the ceiling is this stunning homage to the farmer...
...whilst in niches around the room, statues and other decorations celebrate wine, fishing and hunting. And there's that golden boat symbol again, above the marble statue, just to remind us of the origins of this grand building site.
And all the time, the stately building, with its long and frequently bloody history, looks down, and seems content. Long may it be so!