A HISTORIC SITE
At the end of the 19th Century, the French Law of 1 April 1898 significantly changed the world of mutual insurance in France. It replaced the system put in place by Napoleon III with a much more liberal system.
The law marked the start of a boom in Mutual Insurance throughout France and formed the basis for the country's mutual insurance system today.
Everything developed very quickly, with the creation of the first association grouping together French mutual social-security companies as early as 1901. The association was called the FNMF (Fédération Nationale de la Mutualité Française [National Federation of French Mutuality]).
The strength of the "Mutuality Federation" was its growing network throughout France, although this was also a weakness because it was fragmented.
As of 1904, in order to group together the different mutual insurance activities under one roof, the City of Paris was pressured by a group that would later become the FMS (Fédération Mutualiste de la Seine [Mutual Insurance Federation of the Seine region]) to provide it with premises to organise its mutual-insurance-company meetings, in accordance with the law. Different sites were proposed, but it took almost 25 years before a place was finally found.
In 1924, a piece of wasteland, on which the Maison de la Mutualité would be built, was finally chosen. The land was sold to the FMS by the City of Paris and it took another 4 years to obtain the various permits to erect the building that we know today.
Gaston Doumergue, the French President, laid the first stone in 1929.
The architects Lesage and Miltgen were responsible for erecting this magnificent building; it took them nearly two years to complete, using avant-garde techniques for the period, in particular reinforced concrete (1200 reinforced posts were sunk into the ground to consolidate the foundations of the building, which is built over the Bièvre river, a tributary of the Seine).
The Maison de la Mutualité was inaugurated on 4 July 1931 by the French President Paul Doumer.
Its facade has been listed on the inventory of Historic Monuments since 1949.
The building comprised three main sections:
- The avant-garde Theatre, which, at the time, already had a talking cinema. It could hold 1789 people, a highly symbolic number, since it marks the date of the French Revolution.
- Above this was the banquet hall, which could hold up to 1000 guests; a secluded area for orchestras was built into a niche.
- The second floor was reserved for the FMS offices, and the 3 upper floors were occupied by the different mutual insurance companies.
At the start of the 1930s, the Maison de la Mutualité began hosting exhibitions, shows, banquets, balls, political rallies, union and trade federation meetings, radio recordings, concerts, conferences and even sports championships; as such, it became one of the flagship venues of French cultural and social life.
Successive French Presidents gave speeches in the Theatre, which has also hosted many shows by artists such as Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, and Bjork, to name just a few. In addition, it is was the venue for a memorable boxing match involving the French boxer Marcel Cerdan, and, due to the Theatre's renowned acoustics, Charlie Chaplin recorded the music for some of his films here.
Having taken over the management of the site in 2010, GL events decided to return this unique venue to its rightful position in the national and international events market. The Group commissioned the architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte to undertake extensive renovations, while respecting the building's historical heritage. The new Maison de la Mutualité opened its doors on 6 March 2012, following two years of work.
Today, the venue aims to perpetuate its tradition and reputation as a leading meeting centre by hosting all types of events, for 15 to 1,700 people.
Let us write the next chapter of the site's History together…
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maison de la mutualité
24, rue Saint-Victor - 75005 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 83 92 24 00