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100 French sites chosen for restoration in annual ‘heritage mission’

Among the chosen constructions are several dovecotes, a theatre, a stable and a small bridge in Brittany designed by famed architect Gustave Eiffel

The 14th-century Collégiale Saint-Pierre in La Romieu (Gers) is one of the 100 buildings chosen as part of this year’s Mission patrimoine selection Pic: Hervé Lecalir - Aspheries 2 / Fondation du Patrimoine

One hundred historic sites in France have been selected for financial support to fund their restoration as part of this year’s ‘Mission patrimoine’. 

The initiative was first launched in 2018 and allows people in France to signal any building, habitation or construction that they think is historically or culturally important and that is in need of repairs. 

Each year towards the end of August or start of September, 100 sites are chosen from the suggestions to receive financial aid. 

It follows another selection last March in which 18 sites emblematic of France were also chosen for funding. 

As in previous editions of Mission patrimoine, one building per department was chosen. 

This year’s choices include several dovecotes, a theatre in the Pays de la Loire region and a stable in Nièvre (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté). 

Célia Verot, director of la Fondation du Patrimoine that runs the initiative, said the diversity of choice was intentional. 

“We want to represent all forms of heritage,” she told Franceinfo.

“There are many castles and places of worship in danger, it is true. But we support different projects, industrial heritage for example, which, at the same time, will revitalise the economy of the region.”

Pictured below is the tower of the Abbaye de Lérins in Cannes (Alpes-Maritimes) on the left and a tide mill (moulin à marée) in Saint-Père-Marc-en-Poulet in Ille-et-Vilaine (Brittany). 

Credit: Guillaume de Laubier and Ewan ar Born 

Another standout selection on this year’s list was a small bridge in Brittany that was built based on plans drawn by famous architect Gustave Eiffel. The bridge is located in La Roche-Jaudy and dates back to the 19th century. 

It has been unusable for the past 40 years due to its poor condition and rusting. 

You can see all of this year’s 100 winning projects on the French culture ministry’s website here

Read more: PHOTOS: See the 14 places vying to be France’s most loved monument

760 restoration projects suggested

This year, 760 restoration projects were suggested by people in France on the website Mission Bern

The site is named after French TV and radio journalist Stéphane Bern, who is the face of the initiative. 

Each suggestion is analysed by different specialists before it is confirmed as a candidate building or construction. 

Since 2018, around 4,800 sites have been suggested on the Mission Bern website. 

In total, 745 sites have received restoration funding from the initiative, with work completed on 192 of them. 

The heritage lotto

The Fondation du Patrimoine is funded in part by donors but also by a lottery and scratch card competition called the Loto du Patrimoine. 

The scratch cards, on sale now, cost €15 with the possibility to win up to €1.5million. Of the €15, €1.83 goes to the Fondation du Patrimoine. 

This year a special lottery will also be held on September 16, the day before this year’s European Heritage Days (Journées européennes du patrimoine). It will cost €3 per line, with €0.73 of that going towards the heritage foundation. A minimum pot of €13 will be available. 

Since 2018, the Loto du patrimoine has brought in over €100million for the foundation, with €29million of that coming in 2021 alone. 

Mr Bern told The Connexion in a 2019 interview that the idea for the lottery was partially inspired by the UK’s British National Lottery, which helps to form the National Trust’s annual budget. 

Related articles

Ken Follett visits Brittany cathedral he is helping to restore

Heritage Loto sells 2.5m tickets ahead of €13m jackpot

Fondation du patrimoine saves 35,000 buildings in France in 25 years

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