What is protected, why and how

Every building has its story - and anyone who does anything to it becomes part of that story. Some values, however, can only be discovered in partnership with a heritage officer. Make sure you discover these values before you start to plan renovations, alterations, maintenance and so on. Good-quality care of a heritage building will be appreciated both by those around you and by generations to come.

RENOVATING A protected building?

You have already checked whether you are affected by one of the forms of heritage protection. We will also take an interest in any changes that you would like to make during regular maintenance, repair or the planning of full renovation. We are here to help you preserve the values of the building so that it does not lose its specific magic.

The National Heritage Institute lists over 40 000 cultural monuments. They are valuable because they tell us about life in the past, about exceptional creative abilities, or are related to significant figures or historical events. A cultural monument may be a chateau, a historic house in the centre of a town, or a small chapel on the edge of a village, a First Republic villa or a unique factory building – it does not depend on form or age. Movable works of art such as paintings and statues are also heritage objects, as are church fittings and everyday objects and utensils that show a high level of craftsmanship. What is important is their value to society and to future generations, and for this reason the state protects them.


You know your building best, but we possess a large number of documents that may be of interest to you. The archives of the National Heritage Institute contain files, old photographs, surveys, building plans and other sources of information – to find out if we have information relating to your building, contact your regional branch of the institute or look at our catalogue of historic buildings. 


Buildings or other property do not need to be individually listed as cultural monuments in order to be covered by heritage protection regulations. If they are situated in a heritage area, a specific form of blanket coverage may apply.

Town and village heritage zones and reservations with original buildings and other elements that complete the historic environment are valuable as an entire unit, and so their heritage protection status relates not only to the buildings, but also to the layout, paving, greenery, public lighting and so on. Heritage officers are thus interested in any changes that take place in an area with blanket coverage.  The joint efforts of building owners and heritage specialists have helped to ensure that towns and villages retain their appeal.


All new elements appearing in a historic environment have to be of a sufficiently high quality as to not disturb its heritage value.

Any plans to build in such areas – whether large investment projects in historic town centres, or just a garage added to a family house – thus have to be consulted in advance with heritage officers.