Françoise Nyssen, Minister of Culture, will sign on March 17, 2018 with Patrick Braouezec, President of Plaine Commune and President of the association Suivez la flèche, Philippe Bélaval, President of the Centre des monuments nationaux and Monsignor Pascal Delannoy, Bishop of Saint-Denis-in France, a framework agreement for the reconstruction of the tower and the north spire of the basilica of Saint-Denis.
The medieval tower and spire were dismantled, in the middle of the XIXe century, by the architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, to prevent a risk of collapse, following high winds and a tornado, in 1845, shortly after the restoration of the work by its confers François Debret. Since then, the basilica has remained without a north tower, and without an arrow, the south tower having never worn one.
The reconstruction project supported by the local authorities and the association Follow the arrow was presented to the National Commission for Historic Monuments on January 30, 2017. Shared on the principle of reconstruction, the members of the Commission proposed to the Minister of Culture three imperative conditions: validate the social utility of the site, membership and popular participation; to provide all assurances as to the capacity of the Western massif to support this reconstruction; to have guarantees as to the self-financing of the project, to reserve the credits of the State for the restoration of the old parts of the basilica.
The association immediately commissioned Jacques Moulin, chief architect of historical monuments, to conduct a study to determine the necessary work for the consolidation of the western massif, which has just been handed over. The mayor of Saint-Denis, the president of Plaine Commune and the president of the Île-de-France region have confirmed their support for the project.
A scientific committee, chaired by Philippe Plagnieux, professor of art history of the Middle Ages, and composed of specialists of medieval art, architecture, archaeology and engineers, was constituted on August 10, 2017 to assist the services of the State, and in particular the regional cultural affairs department of Île-de-France, in the monitoring and control of this exceptional project.
The framework agreement signed on March 17 provides for the conditions under which the association will pay to the State the necessary appropriations for the realization, under project management of the DRAC of Île-de-France, of the consolidation of the western massif of the basilica. It also specifies the terms of the occupation by the association of the spaces necessary for the conduct of the reconstruction proper, and for the establishment of the “construction village” and the “gazebo”, open to the public, the entry of which will allow, In addition to the corporate philanthropy collected, the project will be financed for a period of 10 years.
At the same time, the restoration work of the monument, led by the DRAC of Île-de-France, continues: after the spectacular restoration of the Western portals and their admirable sculptures, the main works concern the south wall of the nave and the south rose.
This restitution project should, in addition to its educational and social dimension, reinforce the attraction of this major monument of national heritage, considered as one of the first great achievements of Gothic art in France and Europe, and housing the main necropolis of the kings of France, whose National Monuments Centre ensures the opening to the public.