Dear Valérie Lacroute,
Dear Lionel Walker, Vice-President of the General Council,
Dear Frédéric Valletoux, Mayor of Fontainebleau,
Mayor of Avron, dear Marie-Charlotte Nouhaud,
Ladies and gentlemen elected,
Dear Jean-Luc Marx,
Dear Jean-François Hebert, President of the Château de Fontainebleau,
Dear Vincent Berjot, Director General of Heritage,
Dear Véronique Chatenay-Dolto, Regional Director of Cultural Affairs,
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
I am delighted to be with you today in this symbolic place of our heritage.
While the challenge to the Republic obliges us, while we must redouble our efforts to enable each one to find himself in his values, we must turn resolutely to heritage, a crucible of our common values and a shared horizon.
The success of the European Heritage Days, but also the attendance of museums in France, historical monuments or archives centres, testify to the attachment of the French to places and vestiges that are the foundation of our common history.
A heritage that Malraux defined as "the successive and fraternal milestones of the immense waking dream that France has been pursuing for nearly a thousand years", as "the soul" of "this great dream that sometimes takes on sinister forms" but of which it is indispensable that we value the most remarkable forms, timeless signs of human genius and the work of men.
This heritage - universal because it covers all eras, all cultures, all geographies, and universal because it is destined for all, it is that of all -, this heritage, we are the custodians of it.
It is our common heritage around which we are invited to build a shared future.
It is our responsibility to pass on this heritage and to make it accessible to all the “children of France [to whom] these still living stones belong”, as Malraux once said.
That is why I made heritage one of the major projects of 2015 with the introduction of the Freedom of Creation, Architecture and Heritage Bill, which proposes major structural reforms to our heritage policies, This includes protected spaces, and facilitates access to museum works and archives, while improving our preventive archaeology tools.
Napoleon said of Fontainebleau that it was the «house of centuries».
It is a history book where successive influences are read, a conservatory of French taste shaped by generations of artists.
It is also an important place of transmission around arts and cultural education of which it is one of the major local actors, through the Festival de l'histoire de l'art, which each year helps to bring creation closer to the public in all the richness of its history and to encourage the encounter with works with workshops dedicated to young audiences.
Proof of this is the symbolic milestone of 500,000 visitors in 2014 and the remarkable increase in attendance, which has increased by 50% in five years.
It is still a whole place turned towards the public through its exhibitions recognized for their high quality and the opening of new spaces thanks to the support of patrons: Napoleon III’s work cabinet (2013), Imperial Theatre (2014) or Turkish boudoir of Marie-Antoinette and Josephine which will be inaugurated next May.
I want to salute all the teams of the castle who carry these ambitions with determination. I would also like to congratulate you, Mr President, dear Jean-François.
This dynamism, and the results you have achieved, have of course counted in the proposal I made to the President of the Republic to renew your mandate as head of this house.
Today is an important moment, which, in the footsteps of the Malraux bill on the restoration of great historic monuments in the Assembly, marks a new stage in our ambition to invest in heritage in order to better transmit it.
Because this is the whole meaning of the master plan that has just been presented to us: to set priorities and objectives over time to ensure the conservation and allow the development and transmission of our heritage.
As I announced when the budget was presented to the National Assembly, the department takes its full share of public spending to maintain and enhance the monuments and historic sites that make up our heritage.
Through the elaboration of master plans, I wanted this budgetary effort to continue strategically with long-term ambition, far from the coup that has prevailed for too long.
I would like to offer you my most sincere congratulations for this presentation, which reflects the meticulous diagnosis that made it possible to build this master plan but also the collaborative dimension of the approach and its example.
The presentation that was made to us of the state of the castle allowed us to take all the measure of the precision of the approach.
Four years of studies have in fact been devoted to x-ray from top to bottom.
During these four years, dozens of specialists belonging to reputable design offices examined the monument to make the diagnosis from which priorities for action could be defined.
An approach that has federated all energies around a common ambition.
I would like to commend the mobilization of the Fontainebleau teams and the departments of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, and in particular the Directorate-General for Heritage, which were involved from the outset in these remarkable studies.
Finally, like the long-term work at Versailles, the work at Fontainebleau is an example.
The example of this master plan is that it is part of an ambitious settlement project with the objective of welcoming 700,000 visitors by 2026.
It is also due to its global scope: if a priority has been given to the castle itself, it is all the components of the Fontainebleau domain that have been taken into account: the castle and the collections it preserves, its outbuildings but also the park, the gardens and their hydraulic structures.
It is still due to the highlights that will mark the three phases of the master plan and I have no doubt that the public will be numerous at the rendezvous of the reopening of the Oval courtyard, the historic heart of the castle, whose access is now forbidden.
The example of the approach is finally the mobilization of significant financial resources:
- Over the duration of the master plan, the State commits to dedicate €115 million, or €10 million per year on average.
- For Fontainebleau Castle, this represents a doubling of its current investment budget.
- For the Ministry, the end of the major Parisian construction sites allows a substantial financial effort: we can no longer say that the projects are concentrated in the capital!
To conclude, I would like to recall that, beyond the democratic and social issue of valuing and transmitting our common heritage, this master plan is fully in line with my ambition to put French excellence at the service of the cultural influence of our country.
It seems to me that the elaboration of master plans is indispensable for museum castles with a strong potential for cultural and tourist development: these plans lay the foundations for an ambitious and sustainable development of our heritage.
Versailles paved the way in 2003. The time of Fontainebleau has come. Tomorrow, or the day after, it will be other jewels of our heritage that will embark on this path.
I am pleased to preside today over the writing of this new page in the history of this high place which Flaubert so remarkably described in Sentimental Education the effect it has on the visitor dazzled by “the splendour of the ceiling […] enhanced with gold and silver, more engraved than a jewel.”
Like Frédéric, this visitor believes he is hearing «the echo of hallalis, driven by ivory tubes, and mythological ballets», which evokes «an era of ingenuous science, violent passions and sumptuous art».
Whether or not one is a reader of Flaubert, a visitor or a regular visitor, one cannot fail to feel in this place steeped in history the breath of this "waking dream" dear to Malraux and of which it belongs to us today that it be that of an entire people, a shared dream in which each of our fellow citizens can recognize themselves.
Thank you for your attention.