Mairie vs Hôtel de ville

Hello French friends!

I was wondering when it is appropriate to use mairie vs hôtel de ville. Is there a connection with the size of the city or town?

This question was prompted by a card for mairie (that I got wrong!) in Chatterbug. It made me think about how I have seen signs for mairie in towns and smaller cities, but when I think of Paris, I think of hôtel de ville.

Just curious! Thanks!


Hey @mgm! You’re absolutely right, hôtel de ville is mostly used in big cities, it’s written on the signs and even on the facades. Personally, I only use the word mairie (hôtel de ville sounds a bit too formal, even pompous to me!)

Mais il y a une autre différence :

La mairie, est l’appareil administratif d’une ville qui est logé dans le bâtiment qu’on appelle hôtel de ville. Par extension, dans les plus petites villes, on appelle souvent ce bâtiment mairie.

It means that la mairie refers to the public entity in charge of a city (people, services,…) whereas l’hôtel de ville only refers to the stone or concrete powerless envelope :wink:


(Sorry for the delayed response! I was traveling!)

Ah, thank you @Amandine! That usage information is helpful, and the distinction between the public entity and the building structure is most interesting!

Thank you as always for your insight!