When a Hôtel is not a Hotel

If you are like me, an initial visit to France can leave you quite confused what the meaning of the word hôtel denotes in French. I felt encouraged my first short vacation to Paris when I seemed to be picking up on a few French words. I got off the line 1 metro stop at Hôtel de Ville, looked in amazement at the building in front of me, and turned to my husband asking, "Wow, how much do you think it costs to stay there?" Then I looked across rue de Rivoli and saw a department store called BHV (Bazaar de l'Hotel de Ville). And a little later I found that many museums in the Marais neighborhood are housed in hôtels. It appeared that the French just called anything a "hotel" in the city.

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