|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the French Wikipedia. (March 2012)|
A monument historique is a National Heritage Site of France. It also refers to a state procedure in France by which national heritage protection is extended to a building or a specific part of a building, a collection of buildings, or gardens, bridges, and other structures, because of their importance to France's architectural and historical cultural heritage. Both public and privately owned structures may be listed in this way, and also movable objects.
Some buildings may be given the classification for either their exterior or interior, or both, while in other cases a building's décor, its furniture, a single room, or even a staircase may be given the designation because of its historical significance. An example is the MH classification of the décor in the café "Deux Garçons" in Aix-en-Provence whose patrons included Alphonse de Lamartine, Émile Zola and Paul Cézanne. Some buildings are designated because of their connection to a personality, such as the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise which is designated a Monument historique because of its connection to the painter Vincent van Gogh. Since the 1990s, a significant number of scientific places have been given the designation because of their historical importance.
The designation traces its roots to the French Revolution when the government appointed Alexandre Lenoir to specify and safeguard certain structures. The first classifications were given in the 19th century by the writer Prosper Mérimée, inspector-general of historical monuments (see Roquetaillade Castle), by a first list established in 1840. In 1851, Mérimée organized the Missions Héliographiques to document France's medieval architecture.
A "monument historique" may be marked by the official logo of the Union REMPART, a French historical restoration association. It consists of a design representing the labyrinth that used to be in Reims Cathedral, which is itself a World Heritage Site. Use of the logo is optional.
There are two categories of protection :
- The "classement au titre des monuments historiques" is a national level of importance for the objects or buildings ;
- The "inscription au titre des monuments historiques" is a région level of importance for the objects or buildings, formerly called "Inventaire Supplémentaire des Monuments Historiques" (ISMH).
These two types of protection are determined after a thorough historical study, by the préfet for the région level, or by the Minister of Culture for the national level, aided by the advice of a commission named Commission régionale du patrimoine et des sites (fr) .
Examples of buildings classified as a Monument historique include well known Parisian structures such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Palais Garnier opera house, plus abbeys, churches such as Corbiac, and cathedrals such as Notre Dame de Paris or hotels such as the Crillon. Many of the Châteaux of the Loire Valley carry the MH designation as do the renowned gardens at Château de Villandry. The scope of the monuments covered is broad enough to included individual tombs, of major french people for example, Napoleon I and also lesser eminent people such as Agnès Souret, the first Miss France who tomb is in the Basque Country.
See also 
- Tourism in France
- National Heritage Site
- Centre des monuments nationaux
- List of heritage registers
- List of World Heritage Sites in France
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Monument historique|
- Website of the Réseau européen du patrimoine : Politiques nationales du patrimoine.
- (French) Prosper Mérimée 1803-1870 The monuments historiques inspector Prosper Mérimée established the first list of "monuments classés" in 1840 and invented the concept of monuments historiques.
- (French) Rules and regulations on monuments historiques
- (French) Monumental parks and monuments historiques in need of work
Further reading 
- Les Monuments Historiques de la France: bulletin trimestriel. Paris: Caisse Nationale des Monuments Historiques (French)