The other day I took Jacques to Fontenay for a haircut, which gave me a couple of hours to wander about. It’s a beautiful town, with buildings from the early Middle Ages, though most of the historic center dates from the Renaissance. At one time this was an important city: on the ocean, a regional capitol, a center of agriculture and commerce. That is so over. Unfortunately it seems not to have found a new reason for being. Seriously the place above should be the coolest cafe/coffee house on earth, but no, even if one were to open, there are no customers.
As you can see they are working the Renaissance angle, just not to much effect. Really, a multiplex in the heart of the historic city, and a film festival that seems basically intended to introduce school kids to the classics.
Misguided multiplex notwithstanding, there remains plenty of interesting historic building fabric. This place was taken over by an architect who filled his windows with flat-roofed greenfield buildings, the absolute opposite of what towns like Fontenay need.
Maybe Monuments Historiques are part of the problem. I somehow doubt that I would want to be held to a serious restoration of a commercial investment building in a moribund neighborhood. Something about it not ever penciling might get to me. That said, it’s easy to see why MH would want to see this area treated right.