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Lottery raises millions to save French heritage sites

Marcel Mochet, AFP | The fort on the island of Cicogne in the Glénan archipelago in Brittany is one of the 18 priority sites designated by the French minister of culture.

A French “heritage” lottery drawn on Friday has raised millions of euros that will subsidise the restoration of hundreds of French sites.


Two and a half million tickets at €15 a piece were sold for the heritage lottery drawn on Friday, September 14. The €15-20 million collected will subsidise the restoration of 269 endangered French heritage sites. Eighteen sites designated as “iconic” by the minister of culture will receive priority funding. They will receive immediate funding from the Fondation du patrimoine – enough to begin the first stages of construction and restoration. Here are some of the top sites.

The home of Pierre Loti in Rochefort

Author Pierre Loti (1850-1923) had a lifelong passion for travel. He filled his childhood home with objects collected on his journeys. Closed to the public since 2012 due to disrepair, the house features a Turkish salon, an Arabian bedroom, a Japanese pagoda and a mosque.

Derrick Ceyrac, AFP

The Gier aqueduct

An impressive 85 kilometers long, this 1st-century Roman aqueduct supplied water to Lugdunum (now the city of Lyon). It is the longest and best preserved of the four Roman aqueducts that served the city, but some of the arches are severely damaged.

Gier aqueduct

Notre Dame church in Celle-Guenand

The little 12th-century Roman church in Indre-et-Loire in west-central France has been closed for several years due to damage to its roof and main entrance.

Guillaume Souvant, AFP

The théâtre des Bleus in Bar-le-Duc

The Italian theatre built in 1900 in La Meuse was converted into a gymnasium in 1960. It fell into disrepair and was closed in 2002 for safety reasons.

Jean-Christophe Verhaegen, AFP

The Hôtel-Dieu in Château-Thierry

This 6,000 sqm 14th-century convent and hospital was converted into a modern hospital in 1873 where nuns worked alongside secular doctors. Some even trained as nurses. The site also houses a 17th-century apothecary that is open to the public on visiting days. The 19th-century hospital building is completely inaccessible due to disrepair.

François Nascimbeni

The Carneville castle

The castle on the English Channel was built in the 17th century. It passed into the hands of the de Tocqueville family and was acquired by a local enthusiast in 2012. The latest owners opened the gardens to the public, but the mansion itself suffers from structural decay.

The home of Aimé Césaire in Fort-De-France

Aimé Césaire was a famous Martinique poet, one of the founders of the négritude movement, a literary movement that began in the 1930s among French-speaking African and Caribbean writers as a protest against French colonial rule and the policy of assimilation. His home is one of five heritage sites in France’s overseas departments and regions to be selected for priority restoration.

Franck Fife, AFP

Other overseas sites include the customs house in Guyane, the Maison Rouge plantation on Réunion island, the Soulou sugar plantation in Mayotte, and the Bisdary plantation in Guadeloupe.

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