A “serious fault” for which “the opprobrium would inevitably fall on the Marie Curie Institute and those who let it happen”. Stéphane Bern does not have words harsh enough to condemn those responsible - Emmanuel Macron in the lead - who turn a blind eye to the heritage “scandal” which is allegedly playing out these days in the heart of Paris. Object of this emotion? The destruction of one of the buildings of the Institut Curie, in the 5th arrondissement, to make way for a new seven-story building assigned to the institution's campus.
Perched on the Sainte-Geneviève mountain, in the heart of the Latin Quarter, the Institut Curie includes three pavilions built in 1914. The Curie pavilion, where the physics and chemistry laboratory was located, the Pasteur pavilion, which houses a biology laboratory and radio physiology, and the Sources pavilion, where the radioactive materials used by Pierre and Marie Curie were stored and purified. This last building, placed in the middle of a garden, is doomed to imminent destruction: the machines must come into action on Monday January 8.
A “scandalous” decision for Stéphane Bern. “How can the custodians of Marie Curie's heritage and legacy, when we are less than 300 meters from the Pantheon where she was buried, accept that we destroy this pavilion to build offices there? he protests to Le Figaro. The sole aim of this approach is to increase the well-being of employees who already benefit from a campus in Orsay!” In contact with the management of the institute whose campaign he sponsors A Daffodil Against Cancer, Stéphane Bern even threatens to break off his collaboration if the demolition is completed.
To tip the scales, Stéphane Bern alerted Emmanuel Macron. In vain for the moment. “There are forces at play, powers, people who convinced the President of the Republic to pose his nihil obstat. He told me he was going to reconsider the matter.” But the host has few illusions. “He’s probably not going to do anything,” he regrets. I think he is not aware of the seriousness of the situation, and I am not sure that everyone understands the ins and outs of this situation. According to Stéphane Bern, the president is making a serious mistake by not acting. “It will be a cluster bomb in public opinion! It is a bad signal that is being sent, a signal which could have a serious political impact, since it reveals the powerlessness of the executive to protect heritage and above all reveals a laissez-faire attitude in favor of demolition. It also overwhelms the Paris town hall “which washes its hands of it like Pontius Pilate”. “It’s nonsense,” he judges. The people who made this decision have absolutely no control over this issue!”
In the absence of a reaction from the Élysée, Stéphane Bern called on the Minister of Culture. According to him, Rima Abdul Malak is “also scandalized”. “The minister explained to me that this situation did not only concern Culture: the Ministry of Health also has a say, because the Institut Curie is partly under its supervision,” reports Stéphane Bern.
The fact remains that the project is piloted neither by the State nor by the City, but by a private foundation. In the end, only a classification of the pavilion as a Historic Monument would make it possible to save it. The Old Paris Commission made the request in 2020. Without this being followed up on.