22/2/13 - Heritage - Paris, former Laënnec hospital - Readers of issue n°58 (February 2013) of 7 A Vous, the newspaper published by the 7th arrondissement city hall in Paris (where Rachida Dati is the current mayor), were no doubt amazed at discovering that it has taken up the defense of the Allianz project underway at the site of the Laënnec hospital.
The renovation is termed "exemplaire". From now on, just like the sky is "blue" and trees are "green", restorations/renovations of historical monuments are always "exemplary" .
True, this panegyric which presents all the characteristics of a journalistic article is pointed out, in fine print at the top, as a "publi-rédactionnel" or advertorial. We are even pleased, as explained to us by Philippe Valli, cabinet director of the mayor of the 7th arrondissement, to learn that the size of the letters used for this indication conforms to the law. Lest he worry, we are not at all concerned about whether the 7th’s communications releases are legal or not. However, we would like to say that this type of advertorial, in a municipal newspaper, is a questionable practice.
Thanks to this advertorial, we learn notably that the "chapel, built under Louis XIII and listed as a historical monument has obviously been preserved and will be restored in the best artistic tradition". The fact that the sacristy was destroyed "by accident" (see news item of 2/1/13) is of course not mentioned. The fact that most of the furnishings (often commissioned for this site) were removed (and will not be returned) is also concealed. A beautiful way indeed to restore something "in the best artistic tradition". The fact that the chapel will be privatized for the benefit of the company which will rent out the offices, is carefully omitted, asserting instead that "the vocation of this site is to welcome exhibitions, concerts or conferences respecting the spirit of the site and the sepulchres present there". We should remember the following : the company which will occupy the site will open it to the public only if it wishes to do so . If it chooses not to, the place will remain closed and might even be used as a meeting room.
The creation of a vegetable garden is described as a request from Allianz when in fact it results from negotiations held with the city of Paris (and is the only concession granted to the city). But the best is yet to come. When reading to the end, we learn that Parisians (those lucky people) will be able to admire this beautiful ensemble from the rue de Sèvres and the Potager garden. Entering, however, is not an option.
We understand that Allianz needs to advertise. But we find it shocking that city hall for the 7th arrondissement provided them with a ready tribune in the municipal newspaper. Rachida Dati, often solicited by local associations in their quest to save the chapel, should join them in acting to protect their heritage and support their initiatives. How can she do so when her own newspaper sings the praises of the real estate developer ? Of course, we were forgetting, poor thing, that she is not at fault and powerless : as Philippe Valli told us, "the newspaper of the 7th arrondissement city hall is entirely designed by Editam, which won the bid last December for four issues. City hall does not pay a thing and the company is in charge of bringing in advertising revenues." We are definitely reassured now that we know city hall is not paying, except in terms of credibility. More seriously, we find it unfortunate that in a little over two years Rachida Dati has not taken the time to look more closely at this affair which, already in 2010 (see our article, in French), she clearly was very unfamiliar with.