French government to sell off Notre Dame in Paris !

Façade of future L… M… Water World
(before restoration), Paris
Photo : Wikipedia

We know that the French government, desperately in need of money, is selling off whatever it can. After the Hôtel de la Marine, it was obvious that this full-scale garage sale was not going to end there. The current economic crisis has only speeded things up. Now, one of France’s most emblematic monuments will be turned over to a private firm which, according to our sources, would be a leading hotel chain.

This company apparently has big plans in the works : the idea is to install, in the very heart of this prestigious building, a water sports centre around a large swimming pool to be dug right in the middle “with complete respect for the Gothic architecture which, let there be no doubt, will not be defaced” as indicated to us by the Chief architect for monuments historiques.
When the pool is not in use, for example on 14 July, Bastille Day, when a neighborhood ball will be held there in the main nave, “the retractable tile floor will automatically be put back in place thanks to a very sophisticated system of hydraulic pulleys.”

To make Notre Dame much prettier, the façade will be painted yellow. “Our studies are unquestionable. We have found gilded traces which would indicate that the whole west side was entirely decorated in the same shades as the château de Fontainebleau. As a matter of fact, Notre Dame inspired the architect of the Cour des Offices [1]. There are documents to prove it : we found, in a old edition of children’s literary book collection of Notre Dame de Paris, an illustration where Quasimodo, dressed in yellow, is hiding from Frollo by flattening himself against the façade. Anyway, even if we’re mistaken, where’s the problem ? Like my colleague at Versailles says, the façade at Notre Dame is entirely 19th century. In fact, it’s totally of no interest.”

According to the Minister of Culture, there is no need for alarm. The required specifications are extremely strict : “No diving will be allowed into the pool at over two metres to avoid splashing water on the Mays [2]. Those claiming that it can be done from the tribunes are spreading the most despicable sort of disinformation”. Furthermore, we have been told that all of the Mays now in storage at the Louvre and at the Musée d’Arras will return to join those already in the cathedral and will be accessible to anyone there. “The building will be open to everyone for Heritage days, I don’t see what you could possibly have to complain about” the Heritage director pointed out to us. “In any case, the government no longer had the means to restore the building. The new owner will carry out a complete restoration program which will last only three years. Everything will be cleaned, consolidated and brought up to standard. Would you prefer to see our cathedrals fall apart ?”

A reliable source close to the hotel firm stated that the plans are being finalized. “The swimming area can be turned into an Olympic pool if Paris welcomes the Games in the future. You can imagine that with such a prestigious location, we will have a better chance than others to win the bid. As a matter of fact, the Mayor of Paris is very enthusiastic about it.” Of course, the pool is only one of many elements : “There will be a fitness room, a sauna, a hammam, a swim-in-place pool, a water amusement park for children… .” Our source is so excited he’s getting carried away : “We’re going to rename the spot, because Notre Dame, frankly, doesn’t really sound fun. We’re currently negotiating with a leading French female swimmer who recently stopped competing professionally, of course I can’t say who it is for confidential reasons. But you have to admit that “L… M… Water World”, sounds really fantastic !”

What does the archbishop think about it ? “We have to keep up with the times. The cathedral was much too big anyway for the number of practicing Catholics left. The government will return 25% of the sales total allowing us to rebuild a smaller place of worship, with better heating and the latest modern facilities. We just need to find the location, which we’d like to be easily accessible for Parisians. We’re hesitating between Nanterre, Neuilly-sur-Marne and Cergy Pontoise.” The ministry itself has admitted that this is a test for future programs and that if successful will be extended to other religious buildings. “The President of the Republic gave us specific objectives : our religious heritage has to turn a profit.”

It goes without saying that The Art Tribune will stand firmly against this scandalous project. We are launching a petition which you can sign by sending an e-mail to this address : with these simple words : “I oppose the transformation of Notre Dame into a water amusement park !”

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 1er avril 2009


[1] See our article

[2] Let us remember that these paintings were commissioned in the 17th century every year from the best artists by the confederation of silversmiths for the cathedral.

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