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Tourisme de mémoire - un objectif simple

Joux Castle.
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The 'Directorate of Memory, Heritage and Archives' (DMPA) is a management division of the French Ministry of Defence. One of its main responsibilities is to direct the Ministry's 'remembrance policy'. Between 2000 and 2002, it organised a think-tank to look into the prospects of developing a modern policy in this domain. This quickly led to the decision to pursue an initiative based on the theme of 'Remembrance and Tourism'.
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What's more, certain conjunctional elements existed at the time: the professionalisation of the armed forces had led to the release of a rich property heritage that clearly could not just be sold to the highest bidder, while public opinion was becoming increasingly favourable to the idea of restoring a certain collective memory bank. The need to strengthen the link between the armed forces and the French nation also revealed a pressing obligation to bolster their image in the eyes of younger generations. Finally, the Ministry of Defence also has an important cultural heritage. It is in charge of 189 establishments classed as historic monuments or registered in the country's heritage inventory. Cultural and civic objectives combine with the tourism and economic issues at stake. France's tourism heritage is now a direct factor in the creation of wealth. In this context, 'remembrance and tourism' was designed to be a specific tourism initiative that would complement the country's traditional overall tourist appeal. It can be defined as an approach aiming to encourage the public to explore the diverse elements of the nation's heritage that have been spotlighted in order to discover more about the past and to enrich the sense of civic pride and cultural understanding.

The expression 'remembrance and tourism' may seem strange as some may see a contradiction between the term 'tourism', which is suggestive of holidays, and the word 'remembrance', which is infused with gravity due to its connection with gatherings to remember the trials and tribulations of the past. However, criticism has been muted and the expression has now been accepted and is used by all the partners involved in the scheme. It became clear that this approach could not be led by the Ministry of Defence alone, and that it was essential to call on the participation of other partners, such as the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, as mentioned above, and regional authorities and associations.

The 'Remembrance and Tourism' approach is not about promoting a single aspect of history. Many museums contain historic collections but in most cases their locations and their architecture do not have any historic significance, for example the National Resistance Museum in Champigny sur Marne or the Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deportation on Ile de la Cité. Similarly, some historic sites are not taken into account in the 'Remembrance and Tourism' initiative, the most significant but not the only case being Saint-Quentin, the forgotten battlefield of the war in1870. An identical case is illustrated by the fact that the Provence landing in1944 is touched upon in the tourist information of Mont Faron, but that there is no large-scale recognition despite the historical significance of the event. Therefore, it is important to revive the memory of these somewhat forgotten historic sites? For practical reasons, the country has been divided into separate 'territories of remembrance'. The historic and memorial density of each of these areas differs according to the geography of the wars and their political importance. For example, the Île-de-France (i.e. Greater Paris) area combines both of these aspects. These 'territories' also have the advantage of forming coherent historical ensembles that give tourists a clear perception of this historical heritage.