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France holds one of the richest World heritage

December 02, 2014 | By francecanadaculture Ottawa

French heritage is one of the most important in the World

France is among these countries that hold the greatest number of designated World UNESCO sites, with 39 cultural or natural properties. A hit list set by the newspaper “La Lettura” has been published by the journal “Courrier international”: France holds place #5, just after China, Spain and Germany. Italy takes the lion’s share with 50 sites.

1007 sites are registered on the UNESCO World Heritage sites list, 365 of them are in Europe.

The heritage « à la française »

Review and protection of heritage is part of French history. Since Prosper Mérimée’s work as a General Inspector of historical Monuments, a real tradition of heritage promotion and preservation was developed in France.

French author Mérimée travelled during 20 years througout France to assess monuments. He entrusted architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc to the restoration of historical buildings in danger such as Vézelay's Church and Hill in 1840, Paris' Cathedral of Notre-Dame in 1843 and the Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne in 1853. This sites are today inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

UNESCO’s World Heritage mission

In 1972, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) noted that "the cultural and natural heritages are increasingly threatened with destruction not only by the traditional causes of decay, but also by changing social and economic conditions which aggravate the situation with even more formidable phenomena of damage or destruction".

The Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was back then adopted. Thanks to this international treaty, the UNESCO aims to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

Today, the 194 signatory states have established a system of international co-operation and assistance to conserve and identify that heritage.

Since 2011, 4 French cultural sites have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List

- Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps (France and Swiss) (2011)

- The Causses and the Cévennes, Mediterranean agro-pastoral Cultural Landscape (2011)

- Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin (2012)

- Decorated Cave of Pont d’Arc, known as Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc, Ardèche (2014)

Complete list of French Properties inscribed on the World Heritage List