Lonely Planet Writer

Paris wants its beautiful rooftops with specialised craftsmanship to have Unesco World Heritage status

The iconic rooftops of Paris have been added to a list of intangible cultural heritage complied by the Ministry of Culture in France – and now the roofers have their sights set on the lofty heights of their trade gaining recognition by Unesco.

Golden Hour over the rooftop of Paris
Golden Hour over the rooftop of Paris Image by Julien FROMENTIN/Getty Images

Stand on the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower or make your way up to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur at the top of Montmartre, and the capital’s grand rooftops roll out in front of your eyes like a carpet of silver. Years of traditional, specialised craftsmanship have ensured that the city’s emblematic zinc rooftops remain in good shape, and now those behind the efforts are seeking a cultural appreciation of their trade by applying for Unesco Heritage status.

View of the famous rooftops from the Eiffel Tower.
View of the famous rooftops from the Eiffel Tower. Image by focusstock/Getty Images

Speaking about the Ministry of Culture’s intangible cultural heritage inclusion, the president of the roofer’s union Angel Sanchez said: ‘being included on the list marks a just recognition of our profession. Our tools have been modernised and the risks inherent in our profession have declined. But our expertise remains traditional.’ Paris initially submitted the rooftops’ heritage status application to Unesco in 2015, but such is the process for consideration, the city won’t discover if they have been successful until at least 2019.

Parisian rooftops.
Parisian rooftops. Image by egon69/Getty Images

Currently the banks of the River Seine are the only Unesco World Heritage site in the city; they were added to the list in 1991. The organisation labelled the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris and the Sainte-Chapelle as ‘architectural masterpieces’ and praised the work of influential architect Georges-Eugène Haussmann, whose wide squares and boulevards had a prominent effect on 19th- and 20th-century city planning. Just outside of Paris, the medieval royal hunting lodge of Fontainebleau, and the palace and parks of Versailles are on the Unesco World Heritage list as well.