Tourist imprisoned in French town hall

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The Independent Online

A young British woman was locked in the town hall of a small French town overnight after mistaking the "hôtel de ville" for a "hotel".

The tourist, in her early 30s, posted a rescue message on the inside of the glass door of the hotel de ville (town hall) but no one spotted it until the next morning. The woman, who has not been named, spent the night in the building's entrance hall. The mayor of Dannemarie in lower Alsace, Paul Rumbach, said the woman had assumed the hotel de ville was a hotel. She entered on Friday night and used the toilet before asking if there was a room. Meanwhile, committee members left the building and locked the front door.

"They thought they heard a noise in the toilets but didn't think much of it," the mayor said. The British tourist tried switching the town hall lights on and off to attract a rescue but no one in the town of 2,500 people noticed. She glued a message, in not quite grammatical French, on the window of the outer door: "22.08.2009. Je suis fermer ici. Est ce possible la porte en ouvrir?" (I am locked here. Is it possible the door to open?")

The young woman was liberated by the mayor at 9am on Saturday after a local chemist noticed the message. M. Rumbach said he might place English and German translations of the sign "Hôtel de Ville" on the front of the town hall (or Rathaus).

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