Stéphane Bern - C.Lartige / FTV

  • Every Friday, 20 Minutes  offers a personality to comment on a social phenomenon, in their "20 Minutes with ..." meeting.
  • Stéphane Bern explains to us why he considers that summer 2020 will be "heritage summer".
  • Through various initiatives, the TV host hopes to convince the French to discover the heritage of their country during the summer holidays, and explains how heritage can help us out of the crisis.

A few hours before the start of the summer holidays, Stéphane Bern presented the 18 locations of the Mission Patrimoine 2020 (see box). For the past two years, this operation has enabled the collection of funds for the restoration of heritage places in danger via a national lottery of La Française des Jeux. For the organizer, it is also an opportunity to highlight sites that the French must support through their visits. Stéphane Bern also hopes that this post-containment summer will be "heritage summer".

You have unveiled the sites of Mission Patrimoine 2020, but you are also taking out a holiday notebook and a book in collaboration with the Guide du Routard on the paths of the most beautiful villages in France ... You are doing everything for the French to discover their heritage this in short.

2020 is Heritage Summer, for sure. More than ever, we have the opportunity to rediscover the wonders and treasures of our country. Because traveling abroad is complicated, because foreign tourists will not clutter the place, alas, and because it is an opportunity for somewhat patriotic tourism, in support of the tourism economy French.

Do you see the list of Mission Heritage places as an invitation to travel?

It is a call, an aperitif. There are completely unknown places, some closed to the public for a very long time. It is complicated to make this selection because it must be representative of all regions, including overseas, and of all types of heritage. At the start of the mission, voices were raised which feared that Stéphane Bern would only choose churches and castles. However, the selection is very varied, there is a bridge, places of industrial heritage, a barn ...

But do you think that the French will pack their bags to go and visit the tobacco dryer in Lipsheim because Stéphane Bern will have told them that it was pretty?

I hope to have an impact, yes. Whether it is a little, or a lot, or not at all thanks to me, it doesn't matter. What I see and what makes me very happy is that, more and more often, people decide their vacation or weekend places according to heritage. We used to go for a visit on rainy days, days when we couldn't go to the beach… Now we can decide to go and visit a place of heritage that makes us dream, and build the rest of our vacation around this side.

During the presentation conference of Mission Patrimoine 2020 you also called for these places, once restored, to be no longer just places for tourism. Why ?

It is absolutely necessary to assign a second vocation to these places so that they do not remain empty shells. If they are not given the opportunity to have a new life, in a few years they will again be in ruins and in peril. There are lots of things to invent, and not just missions related to tourism. In Tréguier, the restored convent will become a reception center for people with autism, for example. And all the castles are not Versailles, we can change the places. Heritage sites are often perfectly suited to become co-working places, because putting fiber optics does not damage old stones. With confinement, we have again seen that these workspaces located in the territories are in demand ... Heritage must evolve and come to the aid of the community, which is also evolving. Heritage is always a remedy for the crisis.

But we must first invest to save these historic places. And the atmosphere is not so much investment in this period of economic crisis.

Everyone knows that heritage can revive territories economically thanks to tourist circuits in cities of less than 2,000 inhabitants, which concentrate most of the monuments. I am very happy that the SNCF is a partner of the Mission Patrimoine this year, to allow as many people as possible to visit the site.

We all have memories… contrasting heritage visits when we were children. For a crush, how many hours of deadly boredom?

But there must be support, heritage education, that is obvious. Moreover, the Heritage Days this year will have the theme of education. This is the whole point of my work on television and my personal commitment, for example with the association Les enfants du patrimoine. In my college in Thiron-Gardais, I receive hundreds of children every year. It is essential to maintain school trips because the spark can blow anywhere, anytime. I wanted to create a Heritage Week as there is already a Taste Week. To initiate children. If they do not have a taste for heritage, tomorrow they will let the buildings that we save today fall into ruins.

To evoke these combats, you speak of a crusade. However, you are not alone on this subject.

Today, my speech is taken up a lot, not necessarily on television where I am a little alone, with Jean-Pierre Pernaut talking about heritage. But in everyday life, I really have the feeling of having the support of vox populi , when I go on a crusade. Besides, a recent survey showed that I was a popular television personality. With Jean-Pierre Pernaut, by the way! I am a heritage courier but I am not alone, it is true. The guide-lecturers for example, who emerged bloodless from the coronavirus crisis, are vital relays, they must be helped at all costs, to save this network. Passionate volunteers cannot do everything.

It is not only the economic crisis, there is also the climate crisis which threatens us. What does the result of the municipal elections which saw several cities elect green mayors tell you?

In Beynac, in the Dordogne, in my crusade against an iniquitous bypass project, my first allies were the ecologists. We have in common the taste for beauty, harmony, and disgust for concrete to the extreme. Preserving our living and natural environments is part of a whole, it's the same thing.


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The context

The heritage lottery opens its third season with scratch games and number draws. This game was created to raise funds and help monuments in danger. The list of the 18 main monuments selected for this year was revealed by Stéphane Bern. Mission Heritage scratch game tickets will go on sale at the end of summer, August 31, and the five draws will be spread out between September 9 and 19. In 2019, La Française des jeux paid just under 25 million euros to the Heritage Foundation, which enabled the total restoration of 39 sites and 131 others under way.

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