Posts tagged with "Paris":

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A new museum in Paris celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Liberation

The story of the resistants in the 1944 liberation of Paris from Nazi control is being told at a new museum opening on August 25. The Musée de la Libération celebrates two towering figures of the Resistance: Jean Moulin and Philippe Leclerc de Hautecloque—two men who never met but who both sparked local and international support for the city during the occupation.  Originally, a selection of the artifacts now on view in the museum’s permanent collection was on display in a haphazard and little-known exhibition hall in the Montparnasse district. However, with efforts directed by Parisian mayor Anne Hidalgo, a more cohesive curatorial effort is now housed in a grand 18th-century mansion that was ground zero for the final days of the Resistance movement. Originally owned by Henri Rol-Tanguy, who outfitted the basement for use by Moulin, the house and its subterranean bunker have undergone a $22 million refurbishment over the past four years. It's been filled with the photographs, personal items, and letters of the resistants and its celebrated leaders, as well as from the general Parisian public.  The bunker was integral to the final days of the Resistance since its useful amenities were located 99 steps below ground. These included a pair of airtight steel doors that could be used in the event of a gas attack, a 250-line telephone exchange that could connect leaders to the police (bypassing Nazi-run lines), and a bicycle-powered electricity generator that could keep ventilation moving despite being so far underground.  All of these elements have been meticulously restored and revealed to the public in the new museum. Hanna Diamond, an expert on World War II from Cardiff University, told The Guardian that the aim of the museum's display was to be "as engaging and as accessible as possible." "There’s a real republican responsibility here,” she said. The materials collected by the museum include everything from a schoolboy’s wallet filled with ration cards to the walking stick that Leclerc was never without. The narrative told is centered around the heroic events of August 25, 1944, so it's also fitting that the museum will open its doors on the Liberation’s 75th anniversary.  “The museum’s potency is greatly enhanced by the fact that 'it all actually happened here,'" Diamond said. The Musée de la Libération sits directly across from the entrance to Paris’ famous catacombs and is poised to welcome up to 14,000 visitors per year, according to Le Monde. It will serve as a lasting monument to the stories of the resistants and their chapter of French history for years to come. 
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Widespread lead contamination stops work at Notre-Dame Cathedral

When Notre-Dame Cathedral burned on April 15, mourners elegized a wonderous building while French officials, world leaders, and architects proposed schemes—and pledged major funding—for its reconstruction. While chatter on the future of the near-ruined structure dominated media coverage, fumes from the conflagration quietly blanketed the area surrounding the cathedral with dangerous levels of lead. Now, because of that lead, construction on the site has stopped. During the fire, 450 tons of lead layered onto the cathedral's roof and spire melted, spewing particulates into the atmosphere of Paris. According to a leak that appeared on the French site Mediapart, the lead levels near Notre-Dame were a whopping 500-to-800 times over the safe level of lead, a known neurotoxin that's especially dangerous to young children. Lead levels in two area schools were on average ten times over the 70 micrograms-per-square-meter threshold that officials consider safe for the inside of educational facilities. The news has sparked outrage among residents and watchdog groups, who are dismayed by officials' seemingly blasé reaction to the possibility of lead contamination after the fire. About a month after the fire, Paris officials told school principals that their students and staff were not at risk from the fumes and resulting dust. A regional health agency, meanwhile, told residents to wipe away dust with a wet cloth (lead abatement is best left to professionals). Although no amount of lead is considered safe, health officials usually designate a safe exposure threshold. In Paris, officials adhere to a threshold of 1,000 micrograms per 10.8 square feet (one square meter) for most indoor spaces. At the schools, advocates contend that while now, the average of lead contamination across the building might fall under the 70 micrograms per square meter threshold, the contaminants in some (outdoor) schoolyards are over the 1,000 microgram safe limit, leaving young people potentially vulnerable to lead exposure.
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New report details what went wrong the night of the Notre-Dame fire

Apparently, Notre-Dame Cathedral was more likely to collapse than we were led to believe on April 15, when a historic fire sent not only Paris but the world into a state of mourning over the potential loss of a beloved architectural landmark.  The New York Times has discovered, after reviewing hundreds of documents and completing a series of interviews with church officials and leaders from the fire security company responsible for Notre-Dame, that there was a major miscommunication about where exactly the flames had started. According to the report, when the fire alarm went off at 6:18 p.m., the guard sent to check on the warning went to the wrong building—the sacristy, not the attic—which seriously delayed the response effort.  It took 30 minutes before anyone realized what was happening. By the time the guard climbed up to “the forest,” the famous attic constructed of aged timber beams holding up the roof, the fire was unstoppable. Failure to identify the location of the blaze in time was only the first misstep in a series of errors that night.  The NYT found another critical reason why the damage was so bad; the fire warning system was “so arcane that when it was called upon to do the one thing that mattered — warn “fire!” and say where — it produced instead a nearly indecipherable message.” Reporters uncovered archival documents in a Paris library detailing the lengths at which the cathedral staff and fire protection experts had taken over six years to put the alarm in place, but it was simply too old and too slow. Not only that, but Notre-Dame’s attic didn’t contain any sprinklers or firewalls.  Perhaps one of the most unfortunate causes of the blaze was the newness of the employee who communicated the location of the fire to the guard. The NYT reported that it was only his third day on the job, and he had just started a double shift manning the presbytery room, which contained a complicated control panel that alerted him to smoke anywhere in the complex. There’s debate over whether he understood the alert and whether he communicated it correctly. Recent staff cuts at Notre-Dame had left him solo, according to The Telegraph. The cathedral’s spire had fallen an hour into the fight against the blaze, and the fire was so all-consuming that all firefighters on site were ordered to return to the ground where, after realizing the wind was pushing the fire towards the northern bell tower, they switched their efforts to save that structure instead. By 9:45 p.m., things were under control.  This NYT report sheds light on the various elements that caused the fire at Notre-Dame to get so far out of control. By chronicling the night’s events, hour by hour, we can now see how fragile the cathedral truly was, and how close we were to losing it forever—and by some estimates, still are. An official investigation by the French government is still ongoing to determine the cause of the fire, though it’s believed that no malice was intended. As of yesterday, parliament has approved a bill to reconstruct Notre-Dame by 2024, meaning the $954 million collected in donations following the fire will go directly to the restoration. According to the Senate, the building will be rebuilt to historical accuracy, though it will be a while before that can begin. Work on reinforcing the structure is currently proceeding very slowly and the project’s chief architect says it could still collapse if the flying buttresses aren’t shored up properly, CNN reports
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French Senate declares Notre Dame must be rebuilt as it was before, quashing competition

The French Senate has seemingly dealt a blow to French president Emmanuel Macron, approving a bill that requires the damaged Notre Dame Cathedral be rebuilt as it was before and from the same materials, wherever possible. On Monday night, according to French newspapers Le Monde and The Local, the Senate approved a Notre Dame reconstruction bill first passed by the lower house of the French parliament, the National Assembly, but precluded altering the cathedral. Senators added a clause stating the cathedral must be repaired to its “last known visual state” and use original materials, with exemptions allowed in extenuating circumstances for newer materials. The Senate agreed with the National Assembly that an oversight body headed by the Ministry of Culture would need to be created, but took out text from the lower house’s bill that would have, as per Macron’s request, allowed the reconstruction to sidestep environmental and preservation laws. Both houses of French parliament will now need to hash out the final text of the bill before it can move forward, but whatever they ultimately agree to will form the groundwork for the reconstruction process. If the Senate’s additions hold, it would be an explicit rebuke to Macron and Prime Minister Édouard Philippe. Two days after a fire ravaged Notre Dame on April 15, Macron pledged that the cathedral would be rebuilt by 2024, in time for the Summer Olympics in Paris, and that timetable may still hold. A competition to replace Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc’s downed timber spire from the mid-19th Century was also announced, and architects all over the world took the opportunity to imagine a Notre Dame topped in glass, parking lots, greenhouses, and more. Opposition to rebuilding the Parisian cathedral using modern materials and bypassing the existent preservation standards gathered steam, and over a thousand architects, historians, curators, and other interested parties have signed a petition calling on Macron not to rush the reconstruction.
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The Eiffel Tower’s landscape will be redesigned before the 2024 Olympics

The city of Paris has selected the London-based landscape architecture studio Gustafson Porter + Bowman (GP+B) to redevelop the square-mile “grand site” surrounding the Eiffel Tower. GP+B’s plan, OnE, will reorganize the site into a more linear experience, complete with new parks, reflecting pools, kiosks, and an amphitheater—turning the strip into Paris’s largest park. The announcement stems from a competition launched in 2018 to renovate the areas immediately adjacent to the tower to improve safety, reduce wait times to get to the tower, and overall make the plaza a more enjoyable (and easier to navigate) place. Improving the pedestrian flow around one of the city’s most tourist-friendly landmarks is especially important with the 2024 Summer Olympics rapidly approaching. Rounding out the GP+B team are preservation experts Atelier Monchecourt & Co and French urban design firm Sathy. Together, their winning multi-stage master plan creates a central axis that runs west-to-east beneath the tower, using it as a central point to connect “Place du Trocadéro, the Palais de Chaillot, the Pont d’Iéna, the Champ de Mars, and the Ecole Militaire,” according to GP+B. That includes hopping over the River Seine and turning the existing Pont d’Iéna bridge into a greenway, and restoring the esplanades on either side. Throughout the landscape, the team has used the linear design to strategically frame views of the Eiffel Tower and surrounding city. Beyond that, the corridors and “glades” carved out from the park will be used to host temporary events, including concerts and public art shows. This combination of form and function was described by GP+B in a press release as a melding of “classical French gardens,” typically used to denote wealth and power, and “French picturesque gardens,” where artistic experimentation flourished. Trees will also be planted to help bolster the area’s biodiversity. The $39 million master plan is being enacted in phases, with the first to be finished by 2023, and the second, more ambitious section slated for completion in 2030.
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SABO project turned to plywood for this Paris duplex

Sometimes simpler is better. When Alexandre Delaunay, founder of the Paris and Brooklyn–based SABO project, was approached to design a home for young Parisian family in the 15th arrondissement, he decided to use clean, custom plywood millwork and let the objects in the space speak for themselves. The family had purchased the 1,658-square-foot duplex in a building typical of 1950s-era Parisian housing stock, and both sections needed renovations. SABO stripped the ceilings of both floors back to the concrete slab, centered the flow of both floors around the freestanding spiral staircase, and flipped the home’s programming on its head. Check out the rest of the project on our new interiors site, aninteriormag.com.
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Architects, engineers, academics urge Macron not to rush Notre Dame reconstruction

The scramble is on to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral before the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, but a concerned coalition of curators, architects, art historians, preservationists, and more have told French president Emmanuel Macron to slow down. In a petition published by the newspaper Le Figaro on April 28, 1,170 signers spoke out against hastily reconstructing Notre Dame. Macron has taken steps since the April 15 fire to speed up the cathedral’s repair, first announcing an international design competition to replace the downed spire, and then the formation of a draft law that would appoint a citizen’s group to oversee the reconstruction. According to The Art Newspaper, the body would have the authority to forgo preservation regulations in the name of meeting the 2024 deadline. Philippe de Montebello, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of the painting department at the Getty Museum, Louvre chief curators Nicolas Milovanovic and Cécile Scailliérez, and a number of prominent French preservationists put their names on the Le Figaro petition. Complicating the issue is that the exact status of Notre Dame is unknown at this point. While the forest of 12th-century wooden support trusses and Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc’s 19th-century spire were brought down by the fire, the limestone vaults and thick walls remain standing. The cathedral’s three majestic rose windows also remain intact, but experts cautioned that the fire, and subsequent attempt to put it out, could have caused unseen damage to the structure. “Limestone can lose about 75 percent of its strength when it’s exposed to heat over 600 degrees Celsius,” stone conservationist George Wheeler told The Art Newspaper. “And that fire certainly exceeded 600 degrees Celsius in many locations.” Microscopic cracks in the stone and glass caused by rapid heating and cooling will only become apparent once a full survey of the cathedral has been completed. At the time of writing, experts have not yet determined whether the loss of the roof struts have endangered how the building’s weight is distributed, either. The water used to put out the fire still needs to be removed from the church’s interior as well, and much of the mortar will need to be replaced to prevent the growth of mold. Overall, conservationists have estimated that rebuilding Notre Dame to its pre-fire status could take at least a decade; as such, it remains to be seen whether Macron’s timetable is achievable. In the meantime, a number of architects have already jumped at the chance to design a contemporary update to the cathedral.
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Foster + Partners pitches new Notre Dame spire as competition heats up

Norman Foster has jumped into the international competition to design a replacement spire for Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral, proposing a glass-and-steel topper to replace the cathedral’s ruined roof. According to an interview in English publication The Times, Foster presented his vision for a new “light and airy” roof for the fire-ravaged cathedral. The previous attic space dated back to the 12th century and was nicknamed “The Forest,” as it contained a tangle of 1,300 timber frames, each coming from a unique oak tree—the sheer amount of wood likely fed the fire that ravaged it last week. Foster’s updated vision for the cathedral calls for installing a glass topper, arched to mimic the original wooden roof, ribbed with lightweight steel supports. The new spire would be made of glass and steel and could potentially include an observation deck at its base. “In every case, the replacement used the most advanced building technology of the age,” Foster told The Guardian. “It never replicated the original. In Chartres, the 12th-century timbers were replaced in the 19th century by a new structure of cast iron and copper. The decision to hold a competition for the rebuilding of Notre Dame is to be applauded because it is an acknowledgment of that tradition of new interventions.” The modernization scheme drew an immediate reaction online, where social media users compared the revamped cathedral to a Foster-designed Apple store or the glass Reichstag dome in Berlin. Additionally, several people pointed out that the plan to flood the interior with light would be hamstrung by the stone vaulted ceiling below the attic space and would blow out any light coming in from the historic stained-glass windows. Of course, Foster isn’t the only architect to propose a radical overhaul of the 19th -century spire. Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, known for his neo-Gothic, laser-cut steel sculptures, announced last week that he would be entering the design competition as well. Since the international competition was announced, plenty of people have gotten creative in envisioning “adaptive reuse” projects that give the historic cathedral a bland, modernist overhaul without regard for its surroundings. Even though these have been done in jest, some of them have come quite close to what Foster has proposed. Foster + Partners has clarified that the illustration formerly accompanying this article was not produced by the office or Norman Foster.
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Hand-crafted bricks add visual depth to this French music school

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Located on a prominent site within the town of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, 20 miles from the center of Paris, the Elancourt Music School is a weighty two-story structure clad in hand-made bricks that stagger to create a series of apertures to illuminate interior spaces. The nearly 10,000-square-foot project was designed by Paris-based Opus 5 Architectes and completed in October 2018. Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines is one of six major "new towns" built around Paris during the 1970s. The settlements are marked by their towering brutalist structures, and the Elancourt Music School is housed in the district’s former ecumenical center, a centrally placed concrete structure originally designed by French architect Phillippe Deslandes. Opus 5 reskinned this concrete building with a new brick veneer to establish the structure's new identity.
  • Facade Manufacturer Wienerberger
  • Architects Opus 5 Architectes
  • Facade Installer SRMG
  • Facade Consultants Batiserf Wienerberger
  • Location Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Brick rainscreen and sun filter
  • Products Wienerberger Briques Oud Leerne
For the fabrication of the facade, the design team turned to the centuries-old Austrian brick manufacturer, Wienerberger. The bricks, all roughly measuring eight-by-four-by-two-inches, are held in place by tie rods and a thin layer of mortar. Each application of mortar is recessed and measures under an inch deep, providing the facade a mortar-less appearance. The bricks, which come in a range of grayish shades, are generally arranged in a stretcher bond format—alternately showing long and short sides. This formal arrangement breaks as the bricks shift apart to form mashrabiya-inspired sunscreens. “The idea was to begin at the bottom, without relief or mashrabiya, as an opaque and simple brick facade which progressively moves into sinusoidal and wavy relief and texture to be widely opened along the interior windows,” said Opus 5 Architectes project manager Hùng Tôn. "Once we gave rules for the pattern, the shades of color (from light gray to dark charcoal, with some light brown) and texture (matte and glossy) came randomly during the construction of the brick walls to keep dynamism on this skin." Throughout the design process, Opus 5 Architectes collaborated closely with the facade manufacturer to establish the structure's monolithic character—Wienerberger considered the use of timber and metallic frames to cantilever the brick over the school's primary entrance. "According to Wienerberger, the main brick reference used in the project (Rustica Oud Leerne) was never executed like this—visually mortarless, with mashrabiya patterns," continued Tôn. "The project is novel, so it was an interesting exercise for the manufacturer too."
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Here's what saved the Notre Dame Cathedral from total destruction

The world watched in total shock on Monday evening as a devastating fire ravaged parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. For a moment it looked like the French landmark might be lost completely, but firefighters acted quickly to save the 850-year-old Gothic church. Though a battered version of its former self, Notre Dame still stands today largely because its 226-foot twin bell towers were kept from ruin. “The bell towers are actually like bookends,” noted Thomas Leslie, a Gothic structures specialist and the Morrill Professor of Architecture at Iowa State University. “They keep the last vaults from toppling over or spreading out. A lot of people know that flying buttresses are supporting the vaults in one direction from the exterior, but those vaults also want to collapse along the nave. If stone bell towers, which have wooden structures inside them, had ignited and had collapsed, the whole cathedral could have come down in an instant.” In other words, at some point the Paris Fire Brigade made the decision to stop focusing on the expansive roof fire, and spend its resources on the stone bell towers, both of which date back to the mid-13th century. “The roof was a lost cause and they knew it wasn’t going to lead to the collapse of the building’s skeleton,” asserted Leslie. When the fire began around 6:50 p.m. on Monday, panic spread throughout the world about the Notre Dame’s potential downfall. A roof fire, by most standards, is catastrophic. But what much of the media didn’t realize at first, Leslie argued, was that the wooden roof was detached from the structure itself and couldn’t trigger the building's total collapse. Enough heat, however, could melt the masonry over the nave—the stonework on the structure was already under close watch. For the past few years, Notre Dame has been undergoing an extensive, $6.8 million restoration. A piece of medieval construction, it’s been renovated and added onto several times in its history. The 315-foot-tall oak spire that fell in the fire was designed by French architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and installed in 1860 after the French Revolution and the elements had damaged the structure. Luckily, the 16 copper statues of the 12 apostles and four evangelists that sat at the spire’s base were removed for cleaning just last week and thus spared from the fire. Along with the stone bell towers, the famed trio of round stained-glass windows survived the fire, including the famous South Rose window, which was donated by King St. Louis in 1260. The deputy mayor of Paris said Notre Dame’s 8,000-pipe Great Organ also sustained the event though it did suffer repairable damages. Several news outlets have reported the church’s irreplaceable art and artifacts were rescued and transferred to the Louvre Museum for safe keeping. While these elements were saved, there’s a gaping hole left now in the nave less than 48 hours after the fire, exposing the interior of the cathedral. For Leslie, it’s the water damage done by the fire squad that’s even more concerning. “When you walk into a cathedral, what you see on the inside is the stone vaulting, there for structural and spatial reasons,” he said. “The timber roof above it essentially for weatherproofing. It keeps rain, snow, and ice off the limestone vaults. I noticed through images that water had pretty clearly penetrated the mortar joints in the surviving vaults. Limestone and lime mortar are both vulnerable to fire in the sense that they don’t burn, they turn into powder.” Securing the existing stonework within Notre Dame and protecting it from weather-damage in the near future are undoubtedly top of mind for the temporary restoration effort moving forward. For the long term, President Emmanuel Macron has promised a rebuild and people have already pledged over $900 million towards the planned reconstruction. Even an international competition to redesign the spire ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris has already been launched. Lisa Ackerman, interim CEO for the New York–based World Monument Fund, noted the energy of the moment. “The good thing about all this is that we live in a world where you find out about tragedies instantly and we’ve found both the outpouring of financial support for Notre Dame to be tremendous, as well as the outpouring of assistance from experts who can help rebuild." For example, the late art historian Andrew Tallon from Vassar College had scanned the entire cathedral with an accuracy within five millimeters. His detailed work is laid out in a stunning 3D laser map of Notre Dame, a piece of pivotal documentation that will likely be used in the restoration efforts. Even the popular video game Assassin’s Creed Unity, which is set in Paris, could be helpful. It’s publisher, Ubisoft, has offered expertise. Collecting global documentation of Notre Dame will help in the upcoming work to stabilize the building for centuries to come. Integrating fire-safe products in the reconstruction, said Ackerman, will help ensure a catastrophic disaster like this doesn’t happen again. “Preservation is always an act of negotiating the past with the present and the visual aesthetic qualities of the structure with new knowledge we have about materials,” she said. “The greatest danger to a historic building is when people think its issues are permanently resolved. Hopefully this was a reminder that many of the sites we take for granted actually have needs and must be continually repaired and investigated for their own wellbeing. If we defer maintenance, we endanger buildings in ways that are clearly unimaginable.”
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France launches an international competition to rebuild Notre Dame’s spire

After the Notre Dame Cathedral tragically caught fire earlier this week, it seemed that work to rebuild what was lost could take decades. However, in a televised address last night, French president Emmanuel Macron declared that he would be pushing an ambitious five-year schedule and would be reopening the cathedral in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Additionally, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that France would be holding an international design competition to rebuild the cathedral’s downed spire. “This is obviously a huge challenge, a historic responsibility,” said Philippe, adding that the new design should be “adapted to technologies and challenges of our times.” Rather than strictly recreating Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc’s original barbed spire from the mid-1800s (itself an invention added after the French Revolution and wind damage left the cathedral in shambles), Philippe questioned if it was time to modernize the building. Philippe reportedly asked, "whether we should even recreate the spire as it was conceived by Viollet-le-Duc…or if, as is often the case in the evolution of heritage, we should endow Notre-Dame with a new spire." No timetable or cost for the spire competition has been announced as of yet, but funding likely won’t be an issue. At the time of writing, $900 million has been pledged for Notre Dame’s reconstruction as hundred-million-Euro donations from some of the world’s wealthiest people and corporations continue to flow towards the project.
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Paris's historic Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames

A large fire has engulfed Paris’s historic Notre Dame Cathedral, causing an incredible amount of damage to the 800-year-old stone and wood structure. Reports of the fire started circulating online late Monday afternoon, Paris time, as tourists and residents posted photos and videos of the blaze on social media. As of Monday evening, the majority of the blaze had been contained, though it had not been entirely put out. Initial reports indicate that the main structure has been “saved and preserved” despite substantial damage to other elements. Portions of the transept and nave roof collapsed during the blaze, as did the cathedral’s main spire. Reports indicate that the cathedral’s main western stained glass rosette window has been destroyed, as well. Other reports indicate that other stained glass windows remain but their status is not entirely known at this time. Many of the relics held at the church—including the Crown of Thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ—were promptly removed and secured, according to authorities. Because of ongoing restoration work, large bronze statues depicting the twelve apostles typically located near the spire that collapsed, including a statue of St. Thomas the Apostle bearing the likeness of architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, were recently relocated to southern France for restoration. Following the blaze, French citizens took to the streets singing prayer songs and chanting in solidarity and mourning for France’s premier cultural and religious site. The cathedral welcomes over 13 million tourists every year according to official estimates and was currently undergoing restoration work. Some of the initial images seen from inside the still smoldering nave of the church taken by journalists Monday night showed damage that appeared less dire than originally feared. In short order, France’s wealthiest citizens began pledging large donations to help pay for the restoration of the cathedral. So far, over $600 million has been promised to the project. “This cathedral will be rebuilt, I promise you," French president Emmanuel Macron said in a speech following the blaze while announcing that a national campaign will get underway on Tuesday to collect the funds necessary for the rebuilding effort. Macron added, “We will rebuild Notre Dame because that is what the French expect and it is what the French deserve.”