“Who is talking about culture today? »

Anyway, I wrote a book after every ministerial experience and I did the same after this exciting and exhausting mandate in the rue de Valois. This is a kind of feedback, “Retex”, as they say. I also believe that every minister should talk about the pitfalls he has experienced or the improvements to be made in his department. This book is clearly my version of the facts, I don’t see how it could be otherwise.

This is the wallet you can’t refuse?

When Jean Castex offered me to enter the government, I said no. When he told me about Culture, I said yes. I’m surprised it wasn’t granted to me earlier because everyone knows my desire for this ministry. But I have held good positions, in Ecology or Health. I am not a Secretary of State stuffed with cabbage, as General de Gaulle said. Leaving the rue de Valois was heartbreaking. Not that I wanted to stay there but I separated from teams that helped and loved me. I have a very affective management, not at all kleenex, of human resources.

Not “a ministraillon to whom we throw peanuts”…

You quickly mark your territory, evidenced by a letter to Jean Castex…

You need to mark your territory immediately. Just after my appointment, Bercy decided to take over Kultura as part of the recovery plan. So I wrote to Jean Castex that he did not “buy” Roselyne Bachelot to be “a ministraillon to whom we throw peanuts”. The letter was quite successful and I was satisfied. You know, I was a free woman and they sought me out. I don’t have a pathological relationship with power. I left with no regrets.

As a former Minister of Health, do you have a particular perspective on the Covid epidemic?

It’s obvious. First, because after I was disheartened by the case of H1N1 vaccines, I was given tribute and justice. I thought it would be done after I died. Finally, it’s better if it happens before. It is the same for my action rue de Valois. There was irritation from some, the reactions of spoiled children, but in no other country has the cultural world been helped so much. A major French film official even admitted to me after a meeting that he didn’t expect to receive that much money. “Hush,” I replied, “don’t be too loud.” »

I am not asking for a laurel wreath. We only respect the minister and we do not insult him, as happened in this famous ceremony of the Césars 2021. This is France, some artists have to stand up by knocking out power. “The begging bowl in one hand, the Molotov cocktail in the other”, said Maurice Druon. But we must still remember that more than half of the French have never set foot in a theater, an opera or a concert hall.

A chapter of your book made a noise. You say we can’t fund the upkeep of all the small churches…

I put my feet in the dish, as “La Croix” is its title. France has an extraordinary religious heritage with more than 100,000 buildings, including 42,000 churches, mostly in the countryside. I want to save everything but there will be a billion euros. I put everyone before their responsibilities. A small rural town does not have enough budget to restore its church. It turned to the State, whose legacy was not always brighter and crippled by debt. The construction of the Grand-Palais alone cost 466 million euros, this would be the same amount for the Center Pompidou. Instead of attacking me for what I didn’t say, Stéphane Bern should have understood that I was his best ally. Its Loto du patrimoine brought in just 125 million euros over five years. It’s funny.

“I claim my old-fashioned, classic career as an activist and local elected official”

During the presidential campaign, you wonder about the relationship between Emmanuel Macron and culture…

First of all, I would like to remind you that the 15 billion euros allocated to culture to respond to the health crisis is the president’s wish. But it is true that, in a crisis situation, culture often takes a back seat. Besides, who talks about culture these days, apart from certain circles of insiders? Alas, there is no one and I am sorry, even though there was a revolt.

You say you belong to the old political world, even if that means sounding old-fashioned…

I claim my old-fashionedness, my classic career as an activist and local elected official. I have observed my fellow ministers from civil society arriving without experience or education in an often violent world. It is the same with many deputies. I campaigned for the banning of the accumulation of orders, I admit in all simplicity that I was wrong. It is still better to look at a text of law through the eyes of a local elected official. It’s gone and we’ve lost a lot.

What do you think of Cyril Hanouna’s statements on public service broadcasting?

I am a fierce advocate for public broadcasting. We have wonderful public television and radio, extraordinary professionals. Populists, whoever they are, want privatization, it is a loss for our democracy. Public broadcasting shall not be denigrated or privatized.

If you were a minister, you should have defended the abolition of royalty…

That’s one of the reasons why I don’t want to continue. There you go, you know everything.

“682 days”, by Roselyne Bachelot, Éditions Plon, 288 p., €20.90


At the Francofolies de La Rochelle, in July 2020. One of the earliest public outings of the one named rue de Valois

Archives Xavier Léoty/”South West”

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