In Chambord, under the leadership of Jean d’Haussonville (2010-2023), financial autonomy went hand in hand with autonomy in governance. The new French ambassador to Monaco enjoyed independence, authorized by the special status of the establishment (an EPIC placed under the patronage of the President of the Republic) to restore the castle of François I to its tourist attractiveness and develop resources own of the castle. In a report published on November 10, the Court of Auditors details the collateral damage of this strategy while highlighting the positive aspects, in particular financial autonomy (82%) and the increase in visitors (more than 25% from 2011 to 2019). ).
Without a mission letter from his ministerial supervision, freed from the restrictive status of state operator in 2019, the director had more than free rein to develop the castle’s activities. It was thus able to recruit without counting, when many of its counterparts came up against the employment ceiling imposed by Bercy: while it had 132 positions (in full-time equivalent) in 2010, Chambord had 244 in 2020. Not enough however to support the sustained increase in the castle’s activity, as evidenced by the number of overtime hours (6,094) worked by employees in 2022. This workload as well as vertical management led to the appearance of unrest psycho-social among employees, objectified by a social audit in 2022.
The vertical hierarchy and lack of coordination also weigh on the core of the castle’s activities. The magistrates of the Court of Auditors thus underline that Chambord does not have an establishment project, nor a scientific and cultural project (the castle is not labeled Museum of France). The episodic meetings of the Board of Directors, the Orientation Council (the last meeting of which was held in 2018) or the collections commission, as well as the broad powers vested in the general director are invoked by the report to explain the lack of a strategic vision and the absence of monitoring of ministerial supervision.
With regard to the management of built heritage, the Court of Auditors also observes a lack of overall vision, while the security and sanitary state of the castle – registered on the world heritage list – are degraded. The François I wing has thus been partly closed to the public since 2019. Several factors aggravate this situation: the absence of a curator of the monument appointed by the DRAC – a chief architect of historical monuments monopolized by the renovation of the Grand Palais in Paris – and the absence of project management skills within the EPIC teams. The magistrates of rue Cambon recommend the adoption of a master plan – like Fontainebleau or Versailles – in order to prioritize the work, taking up the requirements of the General Directorate of Heritage issued in 2016, and which remained unanswered.
If the good point retained by the report concerns the development of own resources, the Court of Auditors expresses doubts about the viability of certain projects taking advantage of the vast Chambord estate: the same is true of the wine-growing activity, of vegetable garden, a mobile sawmill, or the sale of carbon credits using forest trees. Regarding this financial autonomy, which justifies the special status of the establishment, Chambord has still not regained its 2019 level of self-financing, largely reduced during the Covid-19 crisis.