Promote the cultural heritage linked to the sea. This is the objective of the mission report on maritime heritage, commissioned in October 2021 by Annick Girardin and Roselyne Bachelot, then respectively ministers of the sea and culture, and finally published mid -april. The architect-urban planner Henry Masson, who piloted it, made proposals to improve the classification and conservation of sites.
Among other things, it recommends studying the sites classified as “remarkable heritage” in order to identify “specificities linked to maritime heritage”. Or even to label and integrate certain municipalities into the network of “Towns and countries of art and history”, to recognize this local heritage.
A strong identity defended by citizens
Proud of their local identity, the inhabitants united in an association are the central players in the protection of this heritage. If “the State also obviously plays a key role”, notes Henry Masson, maritime museums, essential conservation centers for this sector, “are often born of citizens’ initiatives or associations of sailors, who have been able to convince elected afterwards “. Real cooperation must therefore be established between administrations and neighborhood associations.
In this sense, the report brings together dozens of places where cooperation between the various local actors has enabled the enhancement of maritime heritage. Among them, the Pêcheries, museum of Fécamp installed in the old factory La Morue, the Fort of Ambleteuse, which houses a small museum run by volunteers, or the former submarine base of Saint-Nazaire, valued by the municipality to open the city to the port and its history.
Unfortunately, this heritage is still largely unknown, sometimes even by the competent authorities. “Some major sites have been classified by the State, without their maritime singularity having been attested”, regrets the author of the report, who takes Mont-Saint-Michel as an example. The site has been classified as a historical monument since the second half of the 19th century. A recognition linked to its 8th century abbey, and not to “its relationship to the sea”.
Such an intangible heritage
In addition to these sites and the infrastructures that result from them, such as lighthouses or boats, France’s maritime heritage is also made up of “a set of intangible resources”, from fishermen’s songs to maritime festivals or cuisine that adapts to the catch of the day. “To quantify all this, local actors write, record and photograph in order to disseminate and make known their traditions”, notes Henry Masson who is convinced: “The recognition of this cultural heritage will also go through a change of outlook. »