A lottery to help preserve France’s heritage

By | Category: travel, Travel news

Image © Chateau de Carneville

France has no National Trust. It has no English Heritage, Cadw or Historic Scotland. What it does now have is the Loto du Patrimoine.

France does have an organisation called the Centre des Monuments Nationaux and it is responsible for conserving, restoring and maintaining the monuments and collections under its care. It opens to the public about a hundred national monuments belonging to the state such as the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, the castle and ramparts of Carcassonne and the Arc de Triomphe. But it is funded by the state and donations. It has no membership amongst the general public who might pay subscriptions as member of the National Trust would do. I have discussed with them why there is no membership and the only answer I ever receive is that any decision about change would have to be agreed with the French government.

The brainchild of Stéphane Bern, the actor and television presenter, the Loto du Patrimoine is designed to raise money that might otherwise be found by subscription fees. It will act as bit like the Heritage Lottery Fund in distributing a percentage of the monies made from selling scratch cards and lotter tickets. Within a few days 2.5 million scratch-cards had been bought at €15 each, a pricey sum for a scratch card. The first lottery winner received €13 million.

One of the first sites chosen to receive money is the Château de Carneville  near Cherbourg which, during restoration, was found to have dry rot causing a ceiling to collapse and which affected sixteen rooms.

A percentage of the money raised (25% which is 3% more than theHeritage Lottery Fund receives in the UK) ) will go to a those selected from a list of 270 identified French sites as being at risk. But what of sites not considered to be at risk? They still need maintenance so that they do not fall into an “at-risk” category.

But why a lottery and no a subscription based organisation that, as part of the payment, could provide reduced or free entry into buildings? Having a name and contact details would also enable the organisers to try and sell other things to subscribers.

Bern might want to consider having both schemes rather than just the lottery and scratch cards.

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