December 2020 – The year is not yet totally over, but one thing is certain: it will go down in history as the year when a virus paralysed the entire planet. Celebrating the advent of a new decade on 1 January, who could have imagined what 2020 had in store for the world? In twelve months, the new coronavirus has paralysed economies, devastated entire communities and put nearly four billion people in their homes. From Paris to New York, from Delhi to Lagos and from London to Buenos Aires, the unreal silence of deserted streets.
In Marseilles too, time has stood still.
One could almost see the shadows of Stendhal, Victor Hugo, Théophile Gautier, Gustave Flaubert, Alexandre Dumas, Gérard de Nerval and Arthur Schopenhauer, some of the illustrious travelling writers who lived there. From the Hotel Dieu, the Basilica of Notre Dame de La Garde is always spectacular, enchanting especially at this time of the year. She seems almost too secluded.
Here I am in this place steeped in history, I can’t help but do a good deed in history before returning to our sad reality.
Hôtel Dieu is a generic term from the Middle Ages for the town’s main hospital. These are charitable establishments, generally located near the cathedral and managed by the Bishop. It welcomed all the indigent, the unfortunate, the old and the sick. In Marseille, this was no exception. In 1593, the hospitals of Saint-Jacques de Galice and Saint-Esprit merged under the name of Hôtel Dieu. The remains of a 12th century chapel and its mosaic floor can still be seen today from the ground floor. Listed as a Historic Monument in 1963
It was not until 1993 that the last patients left the Hôtel Dieu, which became a university hospital. It will finally close its doors in 2006. It was bought by the city of Marseille one year later. After 3 years of work, the Hôtel Dieu was transformed into a five-star hotel and will officially open its doors in June 2013 under the name Hôtel Intercontinental.
At night, the façade of the building is illuminated from 9:30pm. I just want to brave the curfew to rediscover the majestic atmosphere emanating from the building.
It’s hard to complain when you’re in this imposing building of more than 23,000m2. But it is also difficult not to think about those who suffer. It’s hard not to scream with anger…
In fact, it was first of all the anger I felt, perhaps even anger, at the avalanche of repetitive, ampoule, pedantic and hollow texts. It’s sad this media frenzy because it discredits the subject. It’s true that we marvel at the self-sacrifice of others and we are grateful to them. It is also true that the management of the epidemic could have been better. And it is also interesting to see how others have done it elsewhere. But then, if you don’t have anything special to say about all this, there’s no point in getting up off our necks to talk about it.
In short, the world is mostly as it was before, with pedants, sheep, scientists, ecologists, creators, politicians, financiers…. The difference is that now they are afraid!”
Let’s try not to forget that behind this icy litany, behind each coldly stated figure, lie realities and broken destinies. And that if beds become free, it is not because their occupants have gone off to frolic happily in the countryside.
I wish a lot of courage to all the hospitals around the world and all their staff (doctors, nurses…) I also wish a lot of courage to all those who work to make life easier for us like cashiers, cashiers, merchandisers and cleaners. Without them we would be nothin.
Thank you to all of you!
InterContinental Marseille Hôtel Dieu
1 Place Daviel, 13002 Marseille
+33 (0) 4 13 42 42 42