The Fontainebleau Halle Destroyed

23/9/13 - Heritage - Fontainebleau, Halle - There was no second miracle. As announced, exactly one week after the Heritage Weekend and the solemn statements pronounced by the French Minister of Culture concerning 20th century heritage, the mayor of Fontainebleau, Frédéric Valletoux, had the Halle demolished. A major architectural masterpiece of the period, one of the very few quality constructions erected during the Occupation (thus adding a historical dimension to its artistic value) has been razed as illustrated by the two photographs forwarded to us by Jean-François Cabestan.

We should remember once more that, contrary to the Cultural minister’s claims, there is no indication that a listing would have resulted in enormous sums of money owed to the developer who is planning to build an underground parking lot at the site of the former monument. Whatever the case, the law does not provide for any budget criteria when listing a building : the only requirement is the need to preserve it when it presents "public interest from a historical and artistic point of view" thus justifying its protection. In this case, the public interest was demonstrated by all the persons who intervened : art historians, historians and architects who studied the case. The Ministry’s error of appreciation is patently blatant.

The halle in Fontainebleau being destroyed.
Around 8:30am, 23 September 2013.
Photo : Jean-François Cabestan

The halle in Fontainebleau being destroyed.
Around 10am, 23 September 2013.
Photo : Jean-François Cabestan

The French Ministry of Culture is all the more responsible for this vandalism as it is quite possible that the mayor of Fontainebleau may not have his mandate renewed next year by voters during the municipal elections. The Ministry could very well have allowed the application for listing to run its full course, one year, and the Halle might no doubt have been saved by the new team before the listing was even pronounced. Governing implies a certain amount of courage and conviction. Aurélie Filippetti, in this case, has shown a lack of both of the qualities which define a great statesman.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 23 septembre 2013

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