There were at least three hostages at first, but one was reportedly freed shortly after the drama began at about 4 p.m., police union official Yves Lefebvre said.
The freed hostage was reportedly doused with gasoline and hit in the face as he was freed, according to Lefebvre. The information could not be officially confirmed.
The male suspect reportedly asked to speak with the ambassador of Iran, Lefebvre said. BFM-TV said he asked to speak with a variety of people, suggesting his motives may have been unclear even to himself.
The hostage-taker also claimed he had an accomplice outside the building with a bomb, according to Lefebvre. Police swept vehicles in the area with a device but found nothing, he said.
Officials at police headquarters never confirmed whether the person holding the hostages was armed or described the nature of his demands.