A territorial anchor
The heritage brings together the monuments, witnesses of the past and those that enable us to understand the present. Its scope is wide and diverse: the castles, the churches, basilicas, and other traditional monuments loaded with history, but also contemporary buildings, natural sites… Since the 1960s, this area also includes the property called “intangible” which gives to the notion of heritage character are almost unlimited.
France is home to over 45,000 historical sites protected, of which 15.000 religious monuments and 1100 archaeological sites distributed throughout the territory. With 6205-protected sites, the region Nova-Aquitaine represents 14 % of the total. After Occitania, and the Auvergne, Rhône-Alpes, with respectively 4816 and 4811 historical sites. A territorial anchor all the more important that 41% of the heritage sites belong to the communes and communities of communes.
France is the most visited country in the world, with more than 90 million foreign visitors in 2018. An attractiveness that it must, in part, to its exceptional heritage. Nearly 45 million entries have been recorded in 2018 in the national museums and monuments.
The attendance of the only national monuments has, on its side, crossed by 2018 and for the first time a record in excess of 10 million entries. The Arc de Triomphe, Mont-Saint-Michel and Sainte Chapelle of Paris have received more than one million visitors each. Seven museums have surpassed the one million mark of visitors. In head, the unmistakable Louvre museum, followed by the musée d’orsay and the Centre Georges Pompidou.
When you ask the French, they show a real enthusiasm. Six in ten say they have visited an exhibition, a museum or a monument in a year (study by the Crédoc, 2018), and nearly 50% of them say they are satisfied with the cultural contributions at the end of a visit.
Finally, the Heritage days are organized each year since 1984 are full: they are home to approximately 12 million visitors and the event now has a huge european dimension.
A “national cause”
The Heritage, of the latin “patrimonium” means “inheritance of the father.” The idea of inheritance at the scale of a nation shows the challenge of its safeguarding. The president Macron stated the same in may 2018, the heritage as a “national cause”.
In France, the heritage is protected by law, the scope of which has evolved with the times. The heritage policy sees truly the light of day in 1830 with the appointment, for the first time, an inspector-general of historical monuments. The latter has the burden of travelling throughout the territory and make an inventory of places of historical importance. The commission of historical Monuments is created.
The reflection on the safeguarding of the sites of history leads, in 1887, to the adoption of the first law on the conservation of historical monuments. This is the beginning of the census of movable and immovable property of national interest, which, at the time, is limited to public places.
It would take until 1913 to see the rating to be extended to private properties. This is a landmark bill because the State can, therefore, oppose the destruction of listed buildings. Today, more than 44% of property protected under the historic monuments belong to the private sector.
There are two levels of protection: classified sites and sites. When it is classified, a site that enjoys the highest level of protection, its interest is public. When it is included, it deserves to be preserved, but its interest is not of a national order. In both cases, the status of “monument historique”, is a recognition of the heritage value of a property. Today among the 45.285 sites, one-third is classified.
beyond its national aspect, heritage acquires a global dimension in 1972 with the adoption of the Convention for the protection of the world cultural and natural UNESCO, ratified by France in 1975.
A threatened heritage
according To the Heritage Foundation, whose mission for over twenty years is to identify, safeguard and promote the heritage of the vicinity, 3500 monuments are in danger. Nearly 2000 historic buildings would be even in danger of absolute and one-quarter of the heritage merits of the work.
the ministry of Culture awards each year to nearly 1 billion euros for the heritage, which represents 9 % of its budget. Two-thirds are allocated to historical monuments and museums of France. The 326.2 million euros budgeted that year for the maintenance and restoration of historic monuments are far from being sufficient.
The communes, departments and regions, owners of half of the protected sites have, on their side, the heavy burden of financing the preservation of sites on their territories. The public funds are very far from being sufficient and the use of corporate sponsorship is necessary. Alongside the heritage Foundation, a good number of associations for the safeguarding of the heritage activate on the field.
The heritage needs of all the initiatives. So, last year, the Lotto’s Heritage, popularized by Stéphane Bern, has allowed 250 monuments in danger to receive funding. The sale of tickets has generated 21 million euros. And the operation, which has enabled to commence the restoration of many buildings, launches its second edition this year.
A panel of labels
Museums of France, remarkable gardens, home of the famous… the ministry of Culture has created a multitude of labels and designations to protect and enhance heritage sites. Here are the main ones: