Montpellier: restored works and monuments of the esplanade of Charles de Gaulle

Montpellier: restored works and monuments of the esplanade of Charles de Gaulle

The statue of La Prairie before its restoration. (© Metropolitan / Archive)

Transformation of Place de la Comédie and Esplanade Charles de Gaulle in Montpellier is accompanied by a rich program valuation az restoration of heritage.

Thus, several operations are planned, such as the replacement of damaged stones in the square or the restoration of the facades of the opera house, the Bosc kiosk and the Esplanade and Jardin du Champs de Mars sculptures.

Restoration already done

Monuments to Jean Jaurès and Charles De Gaulle restored.
Monuments to Jean Jaurès and Charles De Gaulle restored. (©VDM)

The monument to Jean Jaurès by Pierre Nocco (1964) and the monument to Charles de Gaulle by Hugo Malbreil (2008) have already been restored this spring and this summer. The statue in honor of Jean Jaurès was made in April 2022 and follows the reconstruction of the planted massif that surrounds it. It became necessary to restore this monument and ensure its durability. The work basically consisted of cleaning the stone covered with pollution and biological colonization, which made it possible to restore the legibility of the carved motifs. Seals, worn, overhauled.

History of the Jean Jaurès monument

In 1922, the first bronze monument was installed in Place Jean Jaurès, sculpted by Georges Setta, which melted down during the occupation. After the war, a committee was formed to build a new monument in honor of Jean Jaurès. The design was entrusted to the city architect Marcel Bernard, the author of the Bosc kiosk, and the realization to the sculptor Pierre Nocca. Two men to whom we also owe the Resistance Martyrs Memorial.

Inaugurated in 1964 and installed on a plinth on the ground floor located in the axis of the Pavillon Populaire, the monument was moved in the early 1990s to its current location. It features a portrait of Jean Jaurès surrounded from three angles by engraved allegories of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Quotations from the politician are engraved on the base’s six tablets.

The monument to Charles de Gaulle consists of a copper alloy statue (bronze or brass), placed on a plinth decorated with granite, made by the FBL foundry, which represented a certain number of elements, characteristic of this type of work. exposed outside. The cleaning carried out by A-Corros was done with an airbrush, that is, by projecting soft vegetable scraps at low pressure, so as not to change the patina when removing corrosion products. poorly cohesive, drips and scale deposits. The final protection consists of microcrystalline wax to protect the surface of the work, to ensure good reversibility of the intervention and to make it much easier to remove elements of vandalism without changing the surface of the work.

Restoration in progress

Although some Montpellier residents no longer notice them, the Esplanade and Jardin du Champs de Mars sculptures inhabit the site. It was normal for them too to experience restoration done this way and when.

Marsyas statue before and after restoration (1 and 2), while La Prairie is in the hands of the company's workers
The statue of Marsyas before and after restoration (1 and 2), while La Prairie is in the hands of the workers of the company “La pierre au carré”. (©VDM)

Work began last week on Jacques Villeneuve’s Marsyas (1905) as well as Horace Daillion’s La Prairie (1911). The work will last two weeks and will be carried out by La Pierre au Carré. Marble sculptures are cleaned by medium pressure washing followed by micro-sandblasting to remove impurities (black crusts, lichens, etc.). The signs will be made in dark color to be legible. Joints will be leveled in a mixture of lime mortar, sand and stone powder. Gaps (toes, foliage, etc.) will be restored by marble grafting.

Upcoming restoration


At the end of November, the restoration of the Monument to the Martyrs of the Resistance by Pierre Nocco (1947) will come. It consists of five massive stone beds and a human figure carved into a circle taking place in the center of the composition. The stone will be cleaned, the cement joints will be cleaned and a zinc convention will be made to protect the alignment of the monument.

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The monument to the martyrs of the resistance was signed by Pierre Nocca and Marcel Bertrand.
The monument to the martyrs of the resistance was signed by Pierre Nocca and Marcel Bertrand. (©VDM)

Until the end of the year, the central alley of the Esplanade will house the metal works Le vent by Jean-Pierre Baldini (1991), Lo Cigal, a tribute to Marcelin Albert, by Raoul Cuadrado (2007) and Charles de Gaulle. be moved and stored during work and relocated after delivery. Other monuments and statues maintained on site will be subject to protective measures during the works in the public space.

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