It took thirty years of reflection to reach the site of the wound of the arrow of the Basilica of Saint Denis. On Wednesday, the official launch of the site, as well as the signature of a convention with the Centre of national monuments, was finally anchored this project. It is expected to start in 2020 and be completed in eleven years. What do “site that the heritage is the most important of the Twenty-first century,” said Laurent Russier, mayor PCF of the city.

Erected in 1219, the north tower and the arrow medieval – which was the culmination of 86 metres – have been removed in 1846, after a tornado has weakened. By the mid-Nineteenth century, the idea of refitting the southern part emerges. But it is abandoned due to lack of resources.

150.000 visitors per year

These are the elected officials of the town who, in 1987, took up the idea of a reconstruction. A association is rising, as well as a sponsoring committee led by academician Erik Orsenna, and in which the bishop of Saint-Denis. The royal necropolis, located in the heart of Saint Denis, was not the success the public that it deserves, and the municipality considers that it is necessary to return the gaze of the public on this masterpiece of gothic art. The necropolis draws, good year, bad year, 150.000 visitors, when the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris in sees 12 or 14 million. “It is necessary to revitalize” a judge today Jacques Moulin, the chief architect of historical Monuments, in charge of the work.

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The city of Saint-Denis, which has the label’ Town of Art and history, is also seeking ways to improve its image, and offer to Dyonisiens a source of pride.

But the idea has long been kicked to the strength of the associations for the safeguarding of the heritage. Over time, the stones of the arrow removed have been reused for the basilica, or for any other thing. Those that remain today are a set not only incomplete, but also too fragile to be recycled. It will be more of a rebuilding than of a wound in the strict sense of the term. Fearing that the weight of the new tower destabilizes the basilica and its foundation, the Commission of historical monuments has even voted against jobs, in 2016. From addition, two ministers of Culture, Audrey Azoulay and Françoise Nyssen, have given their agreement, while noting that the State would not put a penny into the adventure.

28 million euros

The city and the association Follow the Arrow promise to fund $ 28 million of work thanks to the sponsorship, including the Engie and the SNCF, and through a system of visits to be paid for. The model has already been proven for the reconstruction of the ship Hermione, or for the construction of the castle of Guédelon, two projects where the revenue inflows have financed, or finance the construction site.

The work of consolidation of the “western massif”, which will support the spire of Saint Denis, will begin as soon as 2019, the year in which a “village site” will also be put in place. In this “village” built in front of the basilica, stone cutters, blacksmiths, carpenters, glassblowers and carpenters will be demonstrating their know-how.

thirty jobs will be created for the project, which “will cost around 28 million euros, of which 13 million for the reconstruction of the arrow”. “The rest will be for the project school open to the public. The aim is that the site lasts as long as possible,” explains Patrick Braouzec, president of the etablissement public territorial Plaine commune and president of the association “Follow the arrow”.