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Concierge [ kõsi̯ɛrʃ ], French: [ kõsjɛʁʒ ] was in France originally the gate guardian or gatekeeper of a fortress called. The name went under Hugo Capet and up to Ludwig XI. on a high official of the royal family and - after the castles had lost their military function and served as prisons - also on prison guards .

Today the word is used for both men and women, the current French official job title is "Gardien" or female. "Gardienne" ("Guardian" / "Guardian"); one understands by this caretaker , caretaker or gatekeeper of a house.

In the luxury hotel industry, concierge is a profession in many countries around the world that partially overlaps with that of receptionist in other hotel categories .

In German-speaking countries, Concierge Service or Personal Assistance Service refer to intensive and, if necessary, personal support for tenants or visitors.


The origin of the word is not clearly clarified. Presumably it is derived from conservius or servus , which means servant or slave in the colloquial Latin language .

Another, often quoted version derives the word from the "comte des cierges" (German: Count of candles), as the jailer was called, whose empire was illuminated by candles . This is not very plausible because firstly the word was in use much earlier and secondly, expensive wax candles were almost certainly not used in dungeons , but tallow lights (French: “chandelle”) or torches . "Comte des cierges" could - with reservations - have been a name for the former court administrator responsible for the supply of the royal house, who was responsible for the purchase of candles, but this has not been historically proven. Closer is the hypothesis that “comte des cierges” was a popular deformation or corruption of the word “concierge”.


The concierge in the Middle Ages

The medieval office of the concierge du palais , also concierge-bailli du palais and since 1461 only bailli du palais (for example: palace administrator, bailiff) has been documented in France since 988. It corresponded roughly to the office of the former housekeeper , whereby the judicial power of the "concierge", who was authorized to exercise middle and high jurisdiction as the king's representative and appeared in his name before the court, was limited to the royal castle and its immediate vicinity. He also had absolute power of the keys and supervised the gatekeeper ( gatekeeper ) and the guards .

When the castle, located in the heart of Paris on the Seine island Ile de la Cité , was renovated around 1286 at the beginning of the reign of Philip IV the Handsome of Enguerrand de Marigny , the Logis des concierge set up in one of the gate towers took on the name Conciergerie , the this oldest part of today's Palais de la Cité on the Seine island Ile de la Cité in the heart of Paris still bears.

Finally the royal family moved their residence in 1358 and gave up the old castle, in which the audit office and the chancellery remained, the court of justice (French: parlement ) met and the fortified conciergerie served as a dungeon .

The concierge as prison guard

Paris : Conciergerie, former Royal Palace (late 13th century)

In the course of time, the name “concierge” passed from the royal house and court administrator to the guards of the conciergerie, which had been converted into a prison, and later to the guards of other prisons. The task of this concierge de prison (prison concierge) was to ensure the guarding and care of the prisoners, to keep the entry and exit registers as well as double bookkeeping of the expenses for each day that an inmate spent in prison. In the 17th century , the jailer of the Conciergerie only had an average of around 12 to 15 people to guard 200 to 300 prisoners : “five or six door closers (French:“ guichetier ”, literally: flap keeper), two helpers , the chaplain, the pharmacist, the doctor, the surgeon, about 15 people, including the family of the concierge ”.

The numerical inferiority was usually offset by brutality , intimidation and other abuse of power . The concierges de prison of the various French prisons achieved particularly sad notoriety during the reign of terror during the French Revolution , when in just a few months more than 2,700 unfortunate people in the Paris Conciergerie were facing the execution of their death sentences under the guillotine .

The concierge as caretaker

French concierges d'immeuble ("building concierge"), like German caretakers , are responsible for order, security , cleanliness and maintenance in private, commercial or public properties . This requires manual skills as well as social characteristics. Supervised objects can be office or apartment buildings, schools, student dormitories , companies, etc.

In France, the profession, now officially “Gardien” or “Gardienne”, is regulated by law, and the profession is grouped together in the national caretaker union Snigic . Guidelines for work and wages are set out in a collective agreement. Approx. two thirds of those practicing the profession are women. Traditionally, Portuguese immigrants took on the relevant jobs in Paris. Almost 30,000 concierge stations have been cut in France since around 1990; currently (early 2017) there are 52,000.

The Parisian concierge, who can be found in many residential buildings in France in their caretaker's box or in the stairwell behind the car door or front door, was put in by the French writer Eugène Sue in the feature section novel Les mystères de Paris (“The secrets of Paris”) the figure of Madame Pipelet is a caricature monument, with the result that a talkative woman in France is still referred to as a “pipelette” today.

The description of the everyday life of Concierge Renée Michel in the elegant Faubourg Saint-Germain , carefully hiding its literacy from the residents, is the subject of the novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog (2006) by the French author Muriel Barbery . The French original version L'Élégance du hérisson unexpectedly became a box-office hit. Mona Achache filmed the work in 2008 with Josiane Balasko in the lead role under the French title L'Hérisson (2009); the German version Die Eleganz der Madame Michel was published in 2010.

Caretaker's box in Paris, 1936. Concierge handing over letters.

The image that strangers make of the Parisian concierge is one of the typical clichés , not least because of its appearance in many films , where the "lodge" and the caretaker who receives messages and mail and forwards them as well as in real life the unifying or social Represents element between public and private space. The French concierges expressed their protest against the image, which had been falsified by the film industry, in a demonstration on the stairs of the film festival palace in Cannes in May 1990 .

After the IS terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015 , Mayor Anne Hidalgo awarded several concierges a medal as an ang-gardiens ("angel caretaker") for their work, assistance for victims and refugees and the support of the rescue workers .

Use of the word in German: the concierge service

In Germany now have housing - and real estate - companies and property managers the French word "concierge" and the English name "doorman" taken up. In this context, it stands for supervisory and service personnel who are employed in residential buildings that are located in problem areas as well as in luxury apartment properties. The declared aim in the first case is to ensure security and prevent neglect, in the second, moreover, to increase the attractiveness of the property through service-oriented staff who, in addition to the usual janitorial tasks, provide tenants with "around the clock" services such as driving, Doing shopping and running errands, restaurant reservations, taking care of pets, clearing out and the like should be available. In the first case, the service roughly corresponds to that of a traditional “security company”, which is always present on site, while the second component has resulted in a service concept for which the term “concierge service” has become established. In the upscale retail trade, in banks and in the transport industry, the term “concierge” is more commonly used as the term and function description doorman or welcome management.

The costs arising from these services, some of which are considerable , cannot be passed on to the tenant as operating costs , but require a special, express and contractually agreed agreement between the landlord or property manager and the tenant, who is willing to accept it voluntarily must agree to these costs.

It is a controversial question whether services really enrich living or just make it more expensive, burdensome and overwhelming. In conventional housing construction, service has a completely different status than in assisted living, in residential homes or in nursing homes. In assisted living, the service is identical to the necessary care and assistance that people need due to their current life situation in old age. These household services are simply necessary. In contrast, only a few people in Germany can or want to afford domestic services in regular residential construction. The majority of people are currently lacking the acceptance of paying contributions for activities that they can do themselves. Nevertheless, many project developers suspect that the desire for individually selectable household-related services (e.g. laundry and ironing service, home cleaning, shopping service, catering, etc.) will increase in the future through all generations.

Due to the high personnel costs that a concierge incurs in the hotel industry or in private real estate, efforts in the course of the digital revolution are increasingly aimed at partially or entirely replacing the concierge with the use of new media.

The concierge in the hotel business

Hotel Concierge in Lagos ( Nigeria )

The so-called hotel concierge (French Concierge d'hôtel or concierge de grand hôtel ) is mainly employed in the luxury hotel industry . Its first task is to recognize potential, affluent hotel guests and VIPs and to win them over as regular guests . He is at the service of guests with mostly the highest expectations.

His responsibility includes monitoring the hotel lobby, training, supervising and, in some cases, hiring the voiturier , the porter , the lift , the groom and the baggage handler . According to the motto: "Hear everything, see everything, let nothing be heard", it is his job to uncover even the smallest irregularities with a trained eye and to resolve them diplomatically.

He must be discreet , attentive, understanding, secretive as a contact person at the hotel guest's service. Thanks to the so-called "Cardex", a book kept under lock and key, which the governess and the bartender keep in a similar form and in which certain information is collected, the concierge has to know the guests' habits, little quirks and areas of interest. His field of activity goes beyond the usual wake-up service, booking excursions, reserving other hotels and transporting hand luggage. This service is one of the main arguments that the luxury hotel industry uses to attract customers. Last but not least, this is also the reason for the high prices that are charged in this hotel category .

The international professional association of hotel concierges is the Union Internationale des Concierges d'Hotels with the identification mark Les Clefs d'Or , a kind of insignia in the form of two gold-plated, crossed keys that the concierge wears on his lapel . The association has 4,500 members from 34 countries (2007). Candidates for membership must have reached a minimum age, have a command of two foreign languages or more, have demonstrated at least five years of "indoor service" in a luxury hotel and have a recommendation from at least two people.


  • Jürgen Carl: The concierge. The happiness of being there for others , Lübbe Verlag, Cologne 2010 ISBN 978-3-7857-2413-2

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Concierge  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d , April 15, 2017, Michael Neubauer: How a concierge helped victims in the Bataclan attack (April 15, 2017)
  2. Diderot and Alembert: “Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers”
  3. "Grand Larousse"
  4. Camille Dégez: Un univers caréral (XVIe-XVIIe siècles): la prison de la Conciergerie et sa société, Paris, 2005, Thèse soutenue à l'Ecole des Chartes
  5. Art. L771-1 to L771-9 of the Code de travail (labor law)
  6. Syndicat National lindépendant of gardiens d'immeubles et des concierges
  7. ^ Convention collective de travail des gardiens, concierges et employés d'immeubles , of December 11, 1979
  8. Sur .
  9. see L'Humanité of May 18, 1990
  10. See “Die Zeit” from June 18, 2003
  11. See Reiner Götzen: Holistic project development in residential construction. Published by the Institut für Lebenswelten, ISBN 978-3-938666-52-4 , pp. 73–76.
  12. see web link Studyrama
  13. Clefs d'Or - The Union. Clefs d'Or, accessed January 10, 2010 .