Daily Management Review

The Salvation of Parisian Churches?


When she became mayor of Paris in 2015, Anne Hidalgo made the restoration of religious monuments the spearhead of her heritage policy. Her "church plan", which ended in 2020, is somewhat of a mixed bag.

by Sarah Hugounenq

Church of Saint-Christophe-de-Javel, Paris, 16th arrondissement. ARR
Church of Saint-Christophe-de-Javel, Paris, 16th arrondissement. ARR
Is Paris burning? No, though its 85 churches are doing everything they can to stay standing. The City of Paris is struggling to maintain all its religious assets, which include 40,000 works of art and 130 organs. A Dangerous Building Ordinance (Arrêté de péril) has been issued for the Sainte-Trinité church; stones have fallen at Saint-Augustin; scaffolding and endless protective nets have been set up at La Madeleine, and Saint-Merri was classified as endangered heritage by the World Monuments Fund in 2014. "When part of the cross at Saint-Louis-en-l'Isle fell, almost killing the priest, it was a terrible shock. The diocese decided to create a foundation to speed up the restoration of Paris's churches," says Gabrielle de La Boulaye, sponsorship manager for the Avenir du Patrimoine Foundation begun in 2013. "We support or instigate projects, as with Saint-Séverin in 2017, where the restoration of the chapel by Mansart chapel (the 17th-century chapel by architect Jules-Hardouin Mansart), financed by a patron, made the City aware that the façade needed more work." A Century of Neglect In 2015, the city hall announced an unprecedented five-year "church plan" involving €140 million to launch 23 large-scale restoration projects, including at La Madeleine, Saint-Eustache and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette . Hidalgo…read more