Paris, March 31.- At the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, France’s iconic military leader whose bicentennial is marked this year, workers are applying the finishing touches ahead of the commemoration on May 5.
Working here “is an honor. It is unique because you can make ancient works even more perennial,” restorer Celine Wong tells us, as she replaces a broken fragment of the frieze tiles surrounding the tomb at the Dôme des Invalides in Paris.
The restoration works began in May last year, with the cleaning and repairing of all marble in the tomb. Wong points out “the technical part of the job is not difficult.”
“You have to respect each step, and not rush things,” insists Wong, who previously worked at Panthéon, the burial place for some of France’s most illustrious citizens.
Wong explains that the type of frieze tiles she works with are not made anymore except by one manufacturer in Val-d’Oise who is considered “a living heritage”.
The Dôme des Invalides also houses the tomb of Napoleon’s son, who died in exile in Vienna, and his two brothers, Joseph and Jerome.
Napoleon’s tomb used to receive 1.2 million visitors per year before the coronavirus pandemic, 70 percent of whom were foreigners, according to Invalides spokeswoman Syriane Chartier.
Now that Paris is under lockdown due to the pandemic, Chartier says “there is no way we can know when we will be able to reopen to the public.”
The tomb is located at one end of Les Invalides, built by King Louis XIV at the end of the 17th century to shelter aged or injured soldiers.
Famous for its 101-meter tall golden dome, the complex still houses a hospital for wounded soldiers.
Text Courtesy of EFE