Philippe Belaval, the new “Mister culture” of Emmanuel Macron

For ten years, Philippe Belaval led the Center des Monuments Nationaux, whose coat of arms he enhanced. With 1,500 agents, CMN manages about a hundred sites, including the abbey…

For ten years, Philippe Belaval led the Center des Monuments Nationaux, whose coat of arms he enhanced. With 1,500 agents, CMN manages around a hundred sites, including the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel and the towers of Notre-Dame de Paris. In New Aquitaine, CMN owns the abbey of Charroux (Vienne) as well as the castle of the Dukes of Épernon in Cadillac and the prehistoric cave of Pair-non-pair (Gironde), the Pey-Berland Tower in Bordeaux, the cloister of Bayonne Cathedral or the towers of La Rochelle.

Relations with the Landes

“During his ten years of management, Philippe Belaval was able to relaunch CMN and position it as an important establishment in the cultural landscape”, testifies Olivier Du Payrat. The administrator of CMN in New Aquitaine praises both the ability and the collective meaning of Philippe Belaval: “He is like a rugby captain, who trusts his colleagues. It believes in a living legacy, generating activity and anchored in territories, where it is valued by elected officials and local actors. »

A native of Toulouse, a fan of bullfighting, Philippe Belaval worked for Henri Emmanuelli as a project manager when the Landes socialist elected official was in the Budget in the 1980s. And this man from the South-West, who maintained ties to the Landes , spent several years in Bordeaux when he presided over the administrative courts of appeal. But in Paris he developed his brilliant career as a cultural administrator, from the Paris Opera to the Archives, with the BnF and the heritage department on the rue de Valois.

For ten years, Philippe Belaval directed the Center des Monuments Nationaux.

Laurent Theillet Archives/ “South West”

Collusion with the Macron couple

“You are a monument among our monuments,” the president joked in September, when he pinned the Commander of the Legion of Honor badge to Philippe Belaval’s jacket lapel. But Emmanuel Macron did not classify the monument in question, deciding on the contrary to keep it at his service as a watch for cultural files. The collusion between the president and the high officials is real and Brigitte Macron will also be a big admirer of Belaval.

Among its works in the service of heritage, there is the return of the public to national monuments: over ten million visitors last year. In 2015, Philippe Belaval managed to organize the complex file of the Hôtel de la Marine, winning the management of this prestigious building opposite the Hôtel Crillon place de la Concorde in Paris and which Nicolas Sarkozy thought to give to the private sector. sector. He also included in the CMN prison several jewels: the Château d’Haroué near Nancy, and, on the Côte d’Azur, the luxurious villas E-1027 (the work of Eileen Gray) and Kérylos.

Villers-Cotterêts and Notre-Dame

One file on which senior officials knew he was expected was the completion of the restoration of the castle of Villers-Cotterêts (Aisne). Here Emmanuel Macron decided in 2017 to install the future Cité internationale de la langue française, fighting the skepticism of the cultural circles themselves, who fear the poor state of the monument located north of Paris, in a commune led by the National Rally. But the new cultural adviser to the president claims to have always believed in the project, the inauguration of which will be a marker of the second Macronian five-year term.

Philippe Belaval, from whom no one escapes when it comes to heritage, is a candidate to lead the restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris after the fire of April 2019. He was doubled in this file by former Army Chief of Staff Jean-Louis Georgelin , but the general said their relationship did not suffer. The two men are in any case called to work together to carry out the construction site and the reopening of the Parisian cathedral in 2024.

For the love of the Pantheon

And Belaval will have a lot to do at the foot of the towers of Notre-Dame because the State and the City of Paris, since moving part of the courts of Paris to a skyscraper in Batignolles, are thinking about changing the city of the Island of the city. And one of his favorite projects was to unite the old Conciergerie with the Sainte Chapelle, a magnificent Gothic architecture that Saint-Louis wanted in the middle of the 13th century.e century to place the remains of the Passion.

But one of the favorite monuments of the new Elysian councilor is the Pantheon. Belaval, charged by François Hollande with a report on the future of the building dedicated “to great people”, is proud to have opened its bronze doors to women, especially organizing the recent pantheonization ceremonies by Josephine Baker and Simone Veil.

Moreover, the Councilor of State dedicated a book (1) to the masterpiece of the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot, disputed for two and a half centuries by the Church and the Republic. We discover the wonderful history of the Catholic building that Louis XV wanted, which was completed during the Revolution and became a secular temple of national fame.

(1) “Journey to the Pantheon”, by Philippe Belaval, Presses de la Cité, 270 p., €22.

City press

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