“Death does not reveal the secrets of life” wrote François-René de Chateaubriand in Mémoires d’outre-tombe... The tomb of the great writer is in danger. Erected according to his wish on a reef facing the ramparts of Saint-Malo, it is today, some 175 years after its disappearance in 1848, threatened by erosion. A worrying deterioration which prompted the town hall to request a diagnosis. “As I went up the path, I told myself that the tomb was not going to stay there forever,” notes Véronique Callot, a tourist from the Ile-de-France region who came to admire the tomb of this pioneer of romanticism (1768-1848), which enjoys a sublime panorama. on the waves of the Emerald Coast and the corsair city. Because by closely examining the tomb on the uninhabited islet of Grand Bé, accessible only a few hours a day at low tide, we realize that one of the granite pillars flirts dangerously with the cliff. “The right side of the tomb is at the edge of the cliff whereas 15, 20 years ago we could go around the tomb on foot,” sighs Mayor Gilles Lurton.
Michel Désir, administrator of the Chateaubriand company, is also worried. “To this day, it is now impossible for me to access the back of the tomb to attach the sheaf of wheat and wild flowers to the cross, a traditional pose for July 4, the anniversary of the writer's death” . And he does not hide his concern: “Two years ago, I could slip in carefully. Last year I could pass one foot while holding on to the gate. This year I climbed the grid. Next year?"In front of the tomb, protected by a security wire, many foreign tourists pass without knowing that they have before their eyes the final resting place of one of the greatest French writers, because neither date nor name appears on this anonymous granite slab topped with an imposing cross. Only a plaque, affixed to a nearby wall, pays tribute to the author of “Mémoires d'outre-tombe” with these words: “A great French writer wanted to rest here to hear only the sea and the wind. Passant respects his last wish. If the risk of collapse is not imminent, the town hall, owner of the tomb, has decided to carry out a study. “We made the decision to launch a diagnostic mission and then we will seek the opinion of the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (Drac),” explains Gilles Lurton, specifying that the results should be known in 2024.
Can we consider moving the tomb and the remains of The Enchanter one day? And can we imagine it far from Grand Bé? “Anywhere other than Grand Bé, it seems complicated to me. For me, if we have to move it, we have to move it back, but I'm going a long way when I say this: if sometimes we have to move the grave it becomes a national event,” notes the mayor. Coming from Finistère, Cathy and Antoine, in their fifties, are not surprised by the appearance of the tomb and the danger that awaits it. “With the blows of tobacco, the coast is crumbling more and more. On the GR 34 (the path that runs along the Breton coast, editor's note), there are more and more closed portions. The coastline is changing, we are getting used to erosion in Brittany and we even see it here,” laments Cathy, who does not prefer to give her last name. A great lover of Romanticism and the 19th century, Frédéric, 36, a Parisian on a weekend in Saint-Malo, is a philosopher. “I wonder what Chateaubriand would have wished... That the tomb would allow itself to be destroyed by natural phenomena? Because for the romantics, Man is at the center of a nature greater than himself and which can overcome him.