The Hidden Challenge of the Restoration of Notre Dame
by Thierry Meyssan on 02 May 2019 0 Comment

The Élysée used the fire of Notre-Dame de Paris to carry out a project that was sleeping in the boxes. It has set new rules, outside tender procedures and respect for heritage not to restore the cathedral, but to transform the Île de la Cité into Europe’s leading tourist destination on the eve of the Olympic Games of 2024. To avoid judicial constraints, he arbitrarily imposed the hypothesis of a construction incident.


The fire of Notre-Dame Cathedral


When the fire of Notre-Dame began on the evening of April 15, 2019, all the French media and many foreigners turned to the burning cathedral. Many foreign TVs have started their newspaper with this news, but not France 2. The public channel had planned to devote it to President Macron’s announced speech concluding the “Great National Debate”. The writing, completely sounded by the provocation provoked by this unforeseen drama, consecrated his diary, not without having first regretted that the president postponed his speech sine die; a speech in his eyes much more important.


The coldness of most journalists and the stupidity of the politicians’ hot comments suddenly showed the gaping gulf between their mental world and that of the French. For the ruling class, the beauty of Notre-Dame cannot make us forget that it is a monument of Christian superstition. On the contrary, for the public, it is the place where the French meet as a people to recollect or give thanks to God.


In terms of communication, there will probably be a before and after this fire: a majority of French was stunned by this disaster, and revolted by the arrogant indifference of his ruling class.


The Island of the City and the tourism industry


Immediately, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron decided not to rebuild Notre Dame, but to realize a difficult project that had been waiting in drawers for two and a half years. In December 2015, a mission was sponsored by the President of the Republic, François Hollande, and the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. It lasted a whole year while Emmanuel Macron was Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital.


Many personalities participated, including Audrey Azoulay, then Minister of Culture and now Director of Unesco [1], or the Prefect Patrick Strzoda, then Chief of Staff to the Minister of Interior and today Emmanuel Macron. It was headed by the President of the National Monuments Center, Philippe Bélaval, and the architect Dominique Perrault.


Noting that the island of the City is, since its remodeling by Baron Haussmann in the nineteenth century, an administrative complex closed to the public, housing the Sainte-Chapelle and the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, the mission proposed to transform it into a “Island-monument”. The opportunity is provided by the removal of the Palace of Justice, the reorganization of the Prefecture of Police and the hospital of the Hotel Dieu. It will indeed be possible to reorganize everything.


The mission has thus listed 35 coordinated projects, including the creation of underground traffic routes and the canopy of many interior courtyards, to make the island a must-drive for 14 million annual tourists and, possibly, French people. The report of the mission [2] evokes the incredible commercial value of this project, but does not say a word about the heritage value, particularly spiritual, of Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame that it addresses exclusively as tourist sites, sources potential income.


Unfortunately this ambitious project could not, according to its authors, be realized quickly not so much because of the absence of financing as heavy administrative habits and enormous legal constraints. Although there are only a few people on the island, the slightest expropriation can last for decades. More surprisingly, the director of the National Monuments Center seemed to regret the prohibition to destroy part of the heritage to enhance another part. Etc.


The choices of the Élysée


In the hours that followed, it was obvious that very large funds would be offered by donors ranging from ordinary citizens to large fortunes. The objective of the Élysée was therefore to set up an authority capable of leading both the reconstruction of Notre-Dame and the transformation of the Ile de la Cité.


The next day, April 16, during a televised speech, President Macron declared: “So, yes, we will rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral even more beautiful, and I want it to be completed within 5 years” [3]. Let’s forget the “I want” characteristic not of a Republican elected, but of a business leader. Five years is extremely short, especially considering the century and a half of the construction of the cathedral. However, it is the time necessary for the work to be completed in time for tourists from the 2024 Olympic Games. This was the date planned by the Bélaval-Perrault mission.


Two days later, on the 17th of April, the Council of Ministers was entirely devoted to the consequences of the fire. Three important decisions were recorded:


-        Appoint the former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General Jean-Louis Georgelin, to lead from the Elysee a special representation mission “to ensure the progress of the procedures and work that will be undertaken”.

-        Have the parliament adopt a bill [4] governing the collection of funds, regularizing the appointment of General Georgelin who has reached the age limit and above all exempting his mission from all tendering procedures, heritage protection laws, and any constraints that may arise.`

-        Launch an international architectural competition to rebuild Notre-Dame.


Another decision was made: to stifle any debate on the causes of the fire in order to avoid a judicial inquiry disturbing this beautiful arrangement.


The State lies


Immediately, the new prosecutor of the Republic of Paris, Rémy Heitz, appointed by personal intervention of Emmanuel Macron, ensures that the criminal track is not privileged and that the fire is related to a construction site accident.


This insurance provokes an outcry from the site’s experts, firefighters, craftsmen and architects, for whom no worksite element was able to cause such a fire, at this place and at this speed.


The insistence of the Prosecutor and that of the Prefect of Police, Didier Lallement, to take a stand at a time when no investigator had been able to visit the scene of the fire attests to the development of an official version which does not constrain to long investigations blocking the site. It also feeds the interrogations on the arbitrarily dismissed track, that of an anti-Christian or anti-religious act, especially in the context of the vandalism against the churches (878 profanations in 2017), the voluntary fire of the Saint church Sulpice on March 17, or even the fire of Al-Marwani mosque on the Al-Aqsa esplanade in Jerusalem.


In addition, knowing that the majority of large fires occur in the context of real estate projects, the hypothesis of a voluntary act to allow the transformation of the Ile de la Cité must be examined. These questions are all legitimate, but in the absence of investigation no definitive answer is.


Certainly, the goal of President Macron is commendable, but his method is very strange. While it is not possible to launch such a project without changing the rules of law, but if the appointment of a senior general officer is a guarantee of effectiveness, it is not a matter of respect for the law.



[1] Audrey Azoulay was elected thanks to France’s lobbying, while the tradition is that a country is not both the host of an international institution and its president, and that this post has been promised to an Arab personality. It is as Director that she will publish a communiqué bearing the Unesco application: “UNESCO communiqué on the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris”, Voltaire Network, 16 April 2019.

[2] Mission île de la Cité. Le cœur du cœur, Philippe Bélaval et Dominique Perrault, La Documentation française, 2016.

[3] “Discours d’Emmanuel Macron sur la reconstruction de Notre-Dame de Paris”, par Emmanuel Macron, Réseau Voltaire, 16 avril 2019.

[4] “Projet de loi pour la restauration et la conservation de la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris et instituant une souscription nationale à cet effet”, Assemblée nationale, N° 1881, enregistré le 24 avril 2019.


Courtesy Thierry Meyssan; Translation Jean-Louis Scarsi

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top