Dear Ministers, Deputy Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi, President of the Regional Council Michel Vauzelle,Mr. President of the General Council, Mr. Eric Ciotti,Mr. Member of Parliament, Mr. Rudy Salles,Dear Friends,

Strange coincidence will say some, «ruse of reason» will reply
others, sign in my eyes of the republican spirit that brings us together and that
Mr. Mayor, I really didn’t think that
one day open an avenue that bears my last name.

Naming a nearby boulevard
University facilities and the House of Human Sciences
would have undoubtedly seduced the man of culture he was, he who loved the
«dark abyss of time» to use the expression of Buffon and who
had an undisputed passion for literature.

It always seemed to me that the onomastics of street names and squares
gave cities a unique dimension: that of history and
continuity, that of long time and writing in a memory. I
know, Deputy Mayor, that you have at heart to register Nice in
this dimension. You demonstrated this in 2010, on the occasion of the 150th
anniversary of the annexation of Nice to France (1860), which followed
agreements negotiated between Napoleon III and Cavour and was subsequently obtained
of a plebiscite, which I know was more contentious than is said and which
left traces in the memory of Nice. The commemorative sculpture
made by Bernar Venet on the occasion of this anniversary was inserted
in an esplanade that now bears the name of President Georges
Pompidou, this beautiful figure of republican meritocracy and this
embodiment of the modernising ambition that drives you, Mr.
Deputy Mayor. I know that other road names are being planned
and I have no doubt that they will draw a marked urban planning
history and culture.

Essential communication route, this boulevard has been designed and built
as a landscaped promenade combining the tram line,
several tree alignments and large-scale street lighting
artistic. It illustrates this “landscape intelligence” that I hear
promote in my daily work at the Ministry of Culture and
Communication. Just consider all the projects
and today by my department to measure the
road travelled.

In Nice, the support of François Mitterrand and his Minister for
Culture then – as you have recalled – to have preserved the façade
emblematic of the Palace of the Mediterranean. Today, the ambition that is
mine is in the wake of a manifesto for a landscape of
quality, a manifesto that guarantees the architectural gesture its strength and
fullness, a manifesto that is part of a heritage while shaping
a landscape. Future achievements will
witness: the Louvre-Lens, by the agency Sanaa, the Mucem, by the architect
Rudy Ricciotti, the National Archives by Massimiliano Fuksas, all
as the influence and work of the International Workshop of the Great
Paris (AIGP).

In France, libraries – and even very large libraries! -
theatres, squares, streets named after François
Mitterrand. I am delighted that a European metropolis like Nice, strong
its tourist role and its economic attractiveness, strong of its life
has made this choice. I see it as a sign of consensus,
from a height of view, beyond partisan divisions: inscribe the name of
François Mitterrand in the territory of the city is neither to endorse his
political choices, or a partisan vision, shows how much
he rose to the height of history in circumstances often
dramatic: in the construction of the «common house»
in reconciliation with Germany – symbolized by the
hand extended to Helmut Kohl in the ossuary of Douaumont, in the
preservation of the institutions of the Fifth Republic for two periods
of cohabitation. Every man carries a part of shadow, every journey
politics, especially when it embraces nearly half a century, has its share
rumours but also mistakes, sometimes mistakes.

It belongs to historians, like Eric Duhamel, one of his biographers,
to understand what he called “the unity of a man”. It comes down to those
and those who claim of its political action to proceed, if they
inventory and to follow in its wake. It is the responsibility of
public actors and especially cities to honor the President as he was and
history. The presidential function, the keystone of the
our institutions, must be respected and protected: the President embodies the
As a country, it embodies the nation, its face and its voice.

To commemorate is not to judge. To commemorate is not to do
of hagiography. On the contrary, it is a call to reason, to conscience,
to the vigilance of the citizen over all episodes of our past,
without ever giving up the duty of intelligence and history. The plaque that
we will unveil this ambition: this ambition at the service
transmission, it is at the heart of my idea of the
Republic, it is at the heart of my idea of Culture.

Thank you