Lonely Planet Writer

France’s endangered heritage sites to get a new lease of life from scratchcards

One of the many things France is renowned for is its treasure trove of heritage and incredible buildings. Yet preserving such a wealth of history can be costly and tourism can only bring in so much. Now the government is launching a new heritage lottery to restore endangered landmarks around the country.

Fort-Cigogne will soon be restored. Photo by Gerard Sioen/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

The concept of the heritage lottery is simple. Buy a €15 scratchcard and be in with a chance to win a €1.5 million jackpot while the rest of the funds will be allocated towards restoring 18 properties around the country. The lottery will begin in September and run for a limited period but there are already plans to continue the project in 2019.

It’s forecast the lottery could bring in between 15 and 20 million euros this year, which would go some way to make up for the cut in both government and private funding for heritage sites in the last ten years. Among the sites to benefit include Fort-Cigogne, off the coast of Brittany, a 15th-century convent in Corsica and Chateau de Bussy-Rabutin in Burgundy.

Chateau de Bussy-Rabutin in Burgundy is set to benefit from the heritage lottery fund. Photo by Dominique Reperant/Gamma-Rapho

Fittingly, French president Emmanuel Macron’s announced the plan on a visit to Château de Ferney-Voltaire. It was home to Francois Voltaire when he wrote his famous Treatise on Tolerance and the state recently restored the house to its full glory.

Chateau de Voltaire is a recent success story. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty

France is not the only country looking for innovative ways to save their history. When the recession hit Italy, the country was forced to look at different ways to raise income. One of the most successful schemes has been to get top luxury brands like Fendi and Bulgari to sponsor the restoration of some of Italy’s most famous attractions, including Largo di Argentina and the Spanish Steps. In 2017, they went a step further by launching applications to give away 103 historic properties for free in return for being transformed into public facilities.