Ronchamp. He helped preserve the beauty of the Notre-Dame du Haut chapel

Ronchamp.  He helped preserve the beauty of the Notre-Dame du Haut chapel

The huge renovation project of the Notre-Dame du Haut chapel, which dominates Ronchamp, is underway. The amount of this restoration program amounts to 2.3 million euros. This religious building, one of the most emblematic of the 20th century, has already benefited from renovation work, admittedly more modest, in the 1970s. At the time, the chaplain René Bolle-Reddat (1920-2000) assured him -even catering.

A ten-year maintenance

The abbot spent forty-two years on the hill in the service of the work of Le Corbusier. He had established a ten-year maintenance of “his” chapel.

Claude Barberot, entrepreneur in Champagney, participated in these projects. He had met the chaplain through Abbé Chatel on the occasion of the renovation of the cure of Ronchamp. The Barberot company had already intervened on the hill in 1970 to carry out work in the house which served as reception.


In 1975, the company carried out the renovation of the chapel for the first time, which concerned the exterior except for the large tower and the south facade, the work of which had been carried out by a company from Belfort. Problems had arisen to the south where the cracks were constantly reappearing.

“The exterior was redone after Easter,” says Claude Barberot. “We washed the facade with a high-pressure cleaner at 400 bars, then applied a coat of defoamer and two coats of paint. The concretes were washed and the water repellent applied. The work lasted a month.

The paint is beautiful and soft like velvet without diminishing the vigor of the roughcast

Father Bolle-Reddat, in 1985

“It was the abbot who provided the paint,” he adds. The interior has been redone for Christmas. It was about “washing the walls, applying whitewash that my father had taught me to do because he mastered the technique well”, continues Claude Barberot.

Rebelote in 1985

Same scenario ten years later. The exterior is repainted after Easter and the interior for Christmas.

In the Journal of Our Lady of the High December 1985, the chaplain writes these few lines: “The ten-year maintenance was carried out in May, with some setbacks caused by a few heavy storms. The work was done to perfection overall and in detail with a remarkable professional conscience. The Barberot de Champagney company was able to wash the walls with high water pressure, protect the walls against moss, wash the roof awning and renew its waterproofing. The paint is beautiful and soft like velvet without diminishing the vigor of the roughcast…”

The interior was very dirty. I was a little ashamed when I saw a blackish wave descending in the wash

Father Bolle-Reddat, in 1986

“We had a rolling scaffold that went up to 18 meters in height. The abbot was taking pictures. Three to four men was enough,” says Claude Barberot.

“It smelled clean”

Father Bolle-Reddat, in the Journal of Our Lady of the High of March 1986, looks back on the second part of the work: “In December, when there were few people, we undertook the interior cleaning. It was very dirty: dust, smoke from the candles… I was a little ashamed when I saw a blackish stream descending during the wash… The work was completed on December 24 at noon. The whitewash that we went to get from the Vy-lès-Lure dairy, the quicklime in bags, mixed with this liquid heated up. It smelt of cleanliness, health, at the risk and peril of the painters. »

Walls washed every five years

The exterior was again refurbished in July 1995 and the interior was whitewashed in August. “The whitewash was more difficult. It had to be made. We bought it in pebbles”, specifies Claude Barberot who adds: “Every five years we washed the walls. In 2000, shortly before the death of the chaplain, the chapel was washed from the joint of the large tower to the north facade. »

A prominent personality

To say that this experience marked the company is an understatement. Claude Barberot remained very attached to the chapel. He wanted to redo the paintings of the pilgrim’s shelter for the pilgrimage of September 8, 2022 because he knows Le Corbusier’s primary colors well.

As for the personality of René Bolle-Reddat, it marked him definitively: “The abbot was like my second father! he admits with a smile.

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