P.K. Saha forwarded this article from a French publication which profiles the current director of the Paris Mint. Thanks!
At the helm of the Paris Mint since 2007, Christophe Beaux has given the venerable institution a jolt of new energy.
This March he launches a renovation project
that will transform the Mint and its Left Bank neighborhood.
If La Monnaie is fast becoming one of the trendiest spots in the city, it's always been one of the most beautiful.
The masterpiece of architect Jacques-Denis Antoine, the neoclassical building constructed between 1771 and 1777 to
house the workshops of the French national mint has miraculously remained unchanged. Now, elegant as ever, it's
shedding its out-of-date image.
Behind this transformation is the ambitious, discreet and poised, 44-year-old Christophe Beaux, a graduate of the
prestigious Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA) and a former assistant director at the Ministry of Finance. When
Beaux was named head of La Monnaie in 2007, he inherited an enterprise which had kept its monopoly as a mint but
came with a host of problems.
Recently designated as an EPIC, a state-owned industrial and commercial company, the mint is now required to show a
profit—a goal it reached in 2009, with annual sales totaling €126 million. The Paris mint does not produce French
euros—those are minted in Pessac, in the Gironde region around Bordeaux, along with Greek euros and foreign coins
including the Saudi riyal and the taka for Bangladesh. In the workshops of La Monnaie de Paris, which cover nearly
two and a half acres, some 130 workers produce collectors' items—coins, medals and art objects, using precious
metals and age-old techniques. La Monnaie's
boutique has long been a source of unusual, if conservative, gifts.
The biggest change orchestrated by Beaux is yet to come. The Monnaie's major renovation will kick
off in March. Architect Philippe Prost won the design competition for the project, which will take
two years to complete. "The idea we have in mind is to create a veritable Murano for metal, open to
the public," says Beaux, referring to Venice's glassmaking island. "Far from being a handicap, our
factory will become an attraction. We want to make visible this living heritage, our savoir-faire,
our remarkable tradition of artisanat and art. All within a carefully preserved historical environment.
"We're going to reopen six portes cochères (carriageway doors) on the rue Guénégaud and three entrances
on the other side," he explains. "With the central courtyard and the two side courtyards, La Monnaie will
have the look of a village. A vast garden and several boutiques will be open to strollers. And we haven't
forgotten restaurants—to taste Guy Savoy's artichoke soup with black truffles, you'll have to come here
in the future." In fact, three-star chef Savoy will be leaving his long-time flagship restaurant in the
17th arrondissement to install himself in the Monnaie's superb salons with views on the Seine, and he
will also open the Métal Café for more affordable fare.
To read the complete article, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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