After the whirlwind, the reflection. What remains, a week later, of the passage of the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron, in Illiers-Combray? Elements of answer with Jà © rôme Bastianelli, president of the Society of Friends of Marcel Proust.

Emmanuel Macron at Proust, in Illiers-Combray: “Here literature has taken possession of the places to inhabit our lives”

What conclusions do you draw from the presidential visit to Illiers-Combray? It’s a great opportunity for us to talk about our museum. It is an immense pride and an encouragement to do better, and to transform ourselves so that we can welcome the public in better conditions. We want to enrich our cultural programming. The media echo was overwhelming. Everything about Proust is interesting to us. I also thank Stà © phane Bern, who played a crucial role in this visit.

Heritage Loto: 1.4 Mâ ?? ¬ of restoration work at Aunt LÃ © onie’s House, in Illiers-Combray

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Is there a Macron effect for museum attendance? The next day, Thursday, we had a lot of visitors. We had a lot of calls from people who came to inquire about timetables, prices, etc. Did the President give you any secrets? I have the impression that he was really interested in this visit. He was very warm with the museum teams. With Brigitte Macron, we talked a lot about the way in which we can interest young people in discovering the work of Proust. We gave her the book 70 Reading Memories, which we published last year, and she was very interested in it. She told us how she was doing when she was a French teacher. She was using the passage from the description of the Duc de Guermantes, an earthy character.

For Stéphane Bern, the arrival of Emmanuel Macron at Proust will be “a tremendous spotlight for Illiers-Combray”

You also insisted on the fact that the House needs work. It was not about hiding this reality. It was necessary to show all the necessity of the work carried out in partnership with the Departmental Council and the Loto du patrimoine, which brings 400,000 â ?? ¬. The message got across, I believe.

What is urgent? There is everything that is visible, but above all what cannot be seen. The facade must be redone. The oriental living room, which is the most original room in the house, needs repairs. There are holes in the wall, cracks in the ceiling. It’s time to get started. Is the help of the Loto du Patrimoine essential? Absolutely, it allows us to make ends meet. There is a heritage component, to allow the renovation of the historic monument. But there will also be a cultural component, with the creation of new exhibition spaces. The budget is 1.2 million, but the scope of work may be extended. We are in the process of verifying, with the Departmental Council, that we are not forgetting anything.

La Française des Jeux gives a check for € 400,000 for the restoration of Aunt Là © onie’s House – Marcel Proust Museum in Illiers-Combray

The House will close in November for fifteen months. How will you continue your activities? We will not be asleep. The town hall of Illiers-Combray bought the beautiful house of the Citadel so that we can continue. We are going to reconstitute two rooms: that of young Marcel and that of LÃ © onie, in the most faithful way possible. Isn’t it frustrating to close the House when it seems to become of more and more popular? We will work differently. We will take our collections to other museums and organize events in different places. And we are already preparing for the reopening. It will be a big party!

Aunt Là © onie’s House welcomed 140 visitors on Sunday 19 September during European Heritage Days. “A very good number”, according to Jà © rôme Bastianelli.