Ten years of Montpellier Town Hall: “This building is first and foremost the home of the people of Montpellier”

Michaël Delafosse, Hélène Mandroux and the descendants of former mayors unveil the plaques paying tribute to all the mayors of Montpellier since the revolution. (© CN / Métropolitain)

Occasionally from 10 years from City Hall from Montpellier, Michaël Delafosse wished to pay tribute to those who preceded him in the mayor’s chair since the French Revolution. Now, at the entrance of the building, plates, unveiled in the presence of Hélène Mandroux and several descendants of the city councilors, recall their memory.

The memory of the city

Ten years after its inauguration, on November 12, 2011, there was something of an oversight in the place that is still called the new town hall. Taking the example of the Hérault Prefecture, where the successive prefects are listed on a plaque, Michaël Delafosse explains: “All those who have held this office which have honored us since the French Revolution were missing. These are names that speak to the people of Montpellier ”. Rue Michel Vernière, rue du Docteur Pezet, Jean Zuccarelli bridge, halls Laissac, ZAC Pagézy… are all traces that remain.

It is in the presence of the descendants of several mayors, “the memory of the city”, that Michaël Delafosse wanted to unveil this plaque, highlighting the office of the first city councilor: “We are part of a deep continuity in the history of the city. , where everyone has made their contribution, which must be a source of inspiration for the present and the future ”.

If Philippe Saurel was held back by his professional obligations, “he is excused and he left us a very nice note” will mention his successor, Hélène Mandroux was of course present. She became mayor in 2004 and signed the building permit for the new Town Hall, a project initiated by Georges Frêche, the following year. “You see the continuity: Georges Frêche, Hélène Mandroux… Philippe Saurel who did not continue too much… And today Michaël Delafosse who, then assistant to culture and town planning, was very present in the construction of this town hall “, She will comment, recalling:” It was not only an urban displacement, it was also to facilitate the work of the municipal agents by regrouping services disseminated in the city. In the old town hall, there were 400 agents, in the new one there are 900 ”.

The Montpellier house

Mayor of Montpellier from 2004 to 2014, Hélène Mandroux underlines the importance of the place of which she was the first landlord: “We are all different but we are all equal, that is the ambition of the City of Montpellier and of this Hotel. of City. It is the town hall of all Montpellier residents, all different but all equal. And it is because we are different that we are rich ”.

A ceremony held in the presence of Hélène Mandroux, (Philippe Saurel was excused) and the descendants of former mayors.
A ceremony held in the presence of Hélène Mandroux, (Philippe Saurel was excused) and the descendants of former mayors. (© CN / Métropolitain)

It is in this spirit that, a few months ago, in discussions with the ARS and the Prefecture, when the Arena, the exhibition grounds or gymnasiums were mentioned, Michaël Delafosse insisted that it be the ‘Town Hall which hosts the largest vaccination center in Montpellier. “It should have been at the town hall because the town hall is the common house, it is the landmark, the place that protects. We have seen exceptional public officials mobilize. There have been up to 2,000 people vaccinated per day. We have emitted an incredible energy to receive with kindness and so that this prestigious building is the place which reassures and protects the people of Montpellier, ”he recalls.

Taking the example of the hall ceilings adorned with civil acts, François Fontès, co-architect of the place with Jean Nouvel, agrees: “This building is not a simple administrative building, this building is above all the home of the Montpellier residents. “.

The look of the architect François Fontès

A building which, according to François Fontès “symbolizes the desire for innovation and modernity that Montpellier has always wanted and continues to have”. Having imagined the project fifteen years ago, anticipating ecological imperatives, the architect looks at his work with satisfaction: “Today, this Town Hall takes the place it had always wanted to have since the modernity of the City. It was the great project of Raymond Dugrand and Georges Frêche to have this building placed here towards the future of the city ”.

The architect François Fontès designed the Town Hall with Jean Nouvel.
The architect François Fontès designed the Town Hall with Jean Nouvel. (© CN / Métropolitain)

The architect nevertheless points out: “For ten years, neighborhoods have developed and things are changing in terms of neighborhood life. I think that we will find on this square an animation worthy of the town hall of a large agglomeration like Montpellier ”.

Live in the square

Almost 4.5 million people passed through the Town Hall. However, if it is somewhat neglected during the week, the square vibrates occasionally during one-off events such as the FISE, Tohu-Bohu, the Metropolis makes its cinema… Among its great hours, the celebration of the first gay marriage on May 29 2013, the inauguration of the Manitas de Plata statue on June 1, 2017, the 15,000 fans gathered for the victories of the French team in the semi-finals and final of the World Cup in July 2018, the cycling event or the youth climate marches in 2019 …

If he wished to animate it on July 14 with a concert by the choirs of the opera and that he impatiently awaits the victory of a Montpellier sports club to celebrate it, as the MHB had done on May 29 2018 after winning the European Cup, Michaël Delafosse confides: “The square is intended to be more inhabited. It’s not a decision, but I have wishes and we have to work on them. You could imagine a market with very designer furniture ”. While specifying that it is still only at the idea stage.

A new reception hall

The mayor, however, made some changes to the building. With 1,000 weddings per year, Michaël Delafosse wanted, in addition to Grammont and to unclog the site in order to devote more time to ceremonies, to open a second room dedicated to the town hall.

During the first half of 2022, on the ground floor, the hall will be redesigned to provide better reception for the public. “It’s a living building, full of projects, where many decide, which will continue to adapt to its times. There will be an urban project room where we will explain the transformations that we are undertaking ”outlines the mayor, aware and happy to be part of the history of the place and of the City.

If the projects are numerous, especially in terms of rebalancing the city, there is one that Michaël Delafosse will not tackle as he slips with amusement: “The geography of the town hall has changed like urban projects. . However, we are not ready to change its location for another century ”.

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