More giant billboards abound on the Seine

3/4/11 – Heritage- Paris – We had predicted it (see article), and it did not take long to happen. After Orsay where it all started, the Louvre followed suit shortly after (ill. 1) and the Conciergerie (ill. 2) is now covered in turn by giant advertising. The last one, managed by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, is in fact illegal since the legal mentions which are supposed to appear on the site are not shown.

1. The Louvre, facades covered in turn by advertising Breguet
2 april 2011
Photo : Didier Rykner

2. The Conciergerie, facade covered in turn by advertising Dior
2 april 2011
Photo : Didier Rykner

The banks of the Seine are beginning to look like a long hallway lined with publicity posters and we have probably not seen the end of it. The culprit should be clearly named : the government passed a law authorizing this kind of advertising on historical monuments (which theoretically should be protected from such treatment), and the corresponding public establishments have rushed to benefit from it [1].
In fact, private sites have been exemplary in refraining from displaying similar billboards. None can be found on the Hôtel Lambert on the Ile Saint Louis nor on the Hotel Crillon (ill. 3), Place de la Concorde. On the contrary, the second has carefully reproduced the façade of the building on the protective canvas, thus discreetly camouflaging the repairs currently underway.

3. The Hotel Crillon Place de la Concorde
The repairs are hidden by the reproduction
of the façade of the building on the protective canvas
25 january 2011
Photo : Didier Rykner

4. Facade of the 68, rue de la République in Lyon
on the Place Bellecour covered in turn by advertising for Chrome
january 2011
Photo : All rights reserved

Paris is indeed imitating Venice, but the Italian city will soon do away with the scandalous publicity campaigns. According to The Art Newspaper, the new Italian Minister of Culture, Giancarlo Galan stated in La Nuova Venezia on 29 March that the billboards will be removed. Paris and France (Lyon, for example, Place Bellecours, is also affected –ill. 4) will hold the dubious honour of being the only places where advertising is allowed on historical monuments. It is also important to make it clear that the argument that the publicity is only temporary is false.
This is true as concerns each specific billboard but as more and more sites are covered progressively, we will be facing a phenomenon of mobile but permanent pollution.
The banks of the Seine are listed as a Unesco World Heritage site and we would be interested in hearing the opinion of this international institution, which has already reprimanded France for other sites. We also hope that the directors of several large international museums who signed a petition protesting this type of installation in Venice will do the same for Paris, unless they are influenced by their colleagues at the Louvre and d’Orsay…

Didier Rykner, dimanche 3 avril 2011


[1] We should remember that the Garnier Opéra has also fallen prey (see article).

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